Tags: Thieves | Are | Phishing | for | You

Thieves Are Phishing for You

Monday, 18 April 2005 12:00 AM

Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords or other sensitive information.

Phishers send an e-mail or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you deal with. For example, the e-mail may purport to be from your Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency.

The message usually says that you need to "update" or "validate" your account information. It might threaten some dire consequence if you don't respond. The message directs you to a Web site that looks just like a legitimate organization's site.

What is the purpose of the bogus site?

Simply to trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

The FTC suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the e-mail using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address. In any case, don't cut and paste the link in the message.

Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.

Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.

A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Finally, your operating system (like Windows or Linux) may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), in addition, recommends that Internet users follow three simple rules when they see e-mails or Web sites that may be part of a phishing scheme: Stop, Look and Call.

Internet users need to resist that impulse to click immediately. No matter how upsetting or exciting the statements in the e-mail may be, there is always enough time to check out the information more closely.

Be sure to report suspicious activity to the FTC. If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to spam@uce.gov. If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft Web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft.

The DOJ also suggests that the public promptly report any possible phishing schemes to law enforcement so that proper action may be taken. For more information on phishing, log on to www.ftc.gov and www.usdoj.gov.

(Note: If you manufacture or distribute any Security, Safety, Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Defense or Crime Prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.)

Copyright 2005 by Bruce Mandelblit

"Staying Safe" with Bruce Mandelblit is a regular column for the readers of NewsMax.com and NewsMax.com Magazine.

Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His e-mail address is: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.

Bruce is a nationally known security journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve Law Enforcement Officer.

Bruce writes Staying Safe, a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety and crime prevention.

Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel – the state's highest honor – for his public service.

This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.

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Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords or other sensitive information. Phishers send an e-mail or pop-up message that claims to be...
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Monday, 18 April 2005 12:00 AM
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