Protect Yourself -- Learn to Identify Phishing

Don't fall prey to identity theft! Protect yourself, learn the signs to identify phishing

There are predators out there phishing for your personal information. By learning to identify phishing, you can protect yourself, but you have to know the signs. Here are some tips you can use to defend against these thieves.

Signs to Identify Phishing

Before you learn to identify phishing, you must first have a good understanding about what it is. Phishing is a play on words (fishing) because that is what online thieves are doing -- fishing for your personal information.

By using e-mail and instant messaging, online thieves try to trick you into giving out your personal information.

What kind of information are they after?

Your passwords
Your usernames
Your credit card details

How do they try to get your information?

Online thieves try to get your information by tricking you with authentic looking e-mails. They will send you e-mails that really look like they're from official sites. Some of the most commonly copied sites are:

Windows Live Messenger
Online Banks

When you get one of these e-mails, they look authentic and professional -- complete with the company logo. Don't be fooled.

What do the e-mails say?

Phishing emails will have a fake story that's designed to trick you into clicking a link or button in the email or calling a phone number. The e-mails will state something to the effect of:

"Dear valued customer,

We have received notice that you have recently attempted to withdraw the following amount from your checking (savings, PayPal) account while in another country.

If this information is not correct, someone unknown may have access to your account. As a safety measure, please visit our website via the link below to verify your personal information."

You can identify phishing by e-mail because a legitimate company will never ask for personal information such as:

Your full name
Your password
Driver's license number
Social Security number
Credit card numbers
Debit card numbers
Pin numbers
Bank account numbers

Think about it. If you do business with any company such as PayPal, Yahoo, MSN, or your bank, they already have your personal information. There will never be any reason for one of these companies to request your personal information.

Now that you know how to identify phishing, be on the look out and warn friends and family how to protect themselves too.

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