Phishing

 

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computer-virusPhishing is a general term for e-mails, text messages and websites fabricated and sent by criminals and designed to look like they come from well-known and trusted businesses, financial institutions and government agencies in an attempt to collect personal, financial and sensitive information. It’s also known as brand spoofing.

Look for these characteristics:

  • The content of a phishing e-mail or text message is intended to trigger a quick reaction from you. It can use upsetting or exciting information, demand an urgent response or employe a false pretense or statement. Phishing messages are normally not personalized.
  • Typically, phishing messages will ask you to “update”, “validate”, or “confirm” your account information or face dire consequences. They might even ask you to make a phone call.
  • Often, the message or website includes official-looking logos and other identifying information taken directly from legitimate websites. Government, financial institutions and online payment services are common targets of brand spoofing.

Some frequently used phrases:

  • E-mail Money Transfer Alert: Please verify this payment information below…
  • It has come to our attention that your online banking profile needs to be updated as part of our continuous efforts to protect your account and reduce instances of fraud…
  • Dear Online Account Holder, Access To Your Account Is Currently Unavailable…
  • Important Service Announcement from…, You have 1 unread Security Message!
  • We regret to inform you that we had to lock your bank account access. Call (telephone number) to restore your bank account.

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There are things you can do to help prevent phishing:

  • Be suspicious of any e-mail or text message containing urgent requests for personal or financial information (financial institutions and credit card companies normally will not use e-mail to confirm an existing client’s information).
  • Contact the organization by using a telephone number from a credible source such as a phone book or a bill.
  • Never e-mail personal or financial information.
  • Avoid embedded links in an e-mail claiming to bring you to a secure site.
  • Get in the habit of looking at a website’s address line and verify if it displays something different from the address mentioned in the email.
  • Regularly update your computer protection with anti-virus software, spyware filters, e-mail filters and firewall programs.
  • A number of legitimate companies and financial institutions that have been targeted by phishing schemes have published contact information for reporting possible phishing e-mails as well as online notices about how their customers can recognize and protect themselves from phishing.
  • Regularly check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.

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