The dangers of phishing e-mails for your online banking experience
Phishing is using electronic communications to try and obtain confidential information, such as a potential victim's social security number, user ID, password, or credit card number. The phisher does so by sending emails maskerading as a legitimate financial or other business, such as a bank, the IRS,. The rise of online banking also gave rise to online fraud.
The Citibank scam was a prominent example of on online bank scam. Many of the customers of that bank unwittingly and unsuspectingly gave their information to an unknown and untrusted person. The fact that this page was false was betrayed by a number of spelling and grammatical errors; the presence of hash- busters (characters used to bypass spam filters); and by the fact that it was coming from a server in Russia: though these last three are apparent only to a person looking at the page source.
The victim of phishing may suffer enormous financial loss. He may also be denied access to his email or his bank account; and his credit history may be adversely affected; it can take a great deal of time and hard work before his money is recovered and things go well for him and his family again. If a stranger gets hold of your SSN, then the IRS can come after you for any taxes that are due on that person's wages. Even worse, the victim can be arrested for crimes that the perpetrator committed in his name.
Given all these dangers, it is of utmost importance to learn how to identify - and thus guard against - phishing attempts. Here are some of the ways.
If you get a suspicious- looking email that claims to be from a financial institution asking you to verify your personal information, do NOT reply to the message. Instead, contact that institution to verify that the message was in fact from them. Also, check the To: bar to see whom the message is addressed to: If it says "undisclosed recipients," an alarm bell should ring. Your email address should be the only one listed as a recipient. Likewise, are you being greeted by name, or by a generic form of address, such as "Dear User"?
If the message contains a link to a website such as Paypal, do not click on it. Open a new tab or window and type in the URL by hand. If you get a call supposedly from a financial institution, say you will call back and use the number listed on an invoice from that institution.
Phishers ask questions that legitimate businesses NEVER ask. They may try to generate a false sense of urgency by telling you your account has been compromised. Again, contact the company from whom the sender claims he is sending the email.
Install software designed to eliminated viruses, malware, and spyware, and run them regularly. Also check for any updates available.
You should take proper precautions in your offline behavior as well. Be sure to shred documents containing access information, as phishers are known to rummage through people's garbage for such information.
As in all endeavors, it is crucial to remain informed and up- to- date and to know your enemy. It can save you much precious energy in the long run.