“Phishing” is when someone attempts to trick you into providing your personal information by pretending to be someone they’re not. A common phishing scam involves sending spam or pop-up messages, pretending to be a trusted business (eBay, PayPal etc.), to get you to share credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, or other personal information.
- Watch out for unusual emails. The most common form of phishing is an email asking you to “confirm” your personal information for some made-up reason. They may use fictitious reasons such as a warning that your account is about to be closed, a payment is due, or ask you to confirm an order you placed. Another ploy that has been used is to claim they are from the fraud departments of a recognizable company or bank and ask you to verify information because they suspect you may be a victim of identity theft. Be skeptical of these requests and realize that a company you actually do business with will already have your information on file and will not ask you to confirm it in an email.
- Don’t click on links in emails asking for your personal information. They may lead you to fake versions of legitimate Web sites, where criminals hope you’ll share your personal information.
- Never enter your information in pop-up screens. They may be planted on legitimate Web sites by identity thieves.
- Keep malicious messages and programs that could be used by criminals out of your computer with a spam filter, up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a strong firewall.