It almost happened to me! I feel so foolish that I almost fell for a phishing scam that I can’t even write about the experience, but I do want you to know more about phishing so you won't fall prey to this type of vicious identity theft!
Basically, phishing is when criminals use electronic sources (phones, email, or any online sources) to trick individuals into sharing personal information. Phishing is a crime, but these criminals are rarely caught. They try to get your passwords, social security numbers, credit card information, your driver’s license number, and even your mother’s maiden name among other things. Sometimes a phishing incident involves sending emails posing as banks or credit card companies. The problem is that these emails look so close to the legitimate company that many fall for it.
Everyone must be diligent and on the alert so as not to be caught in these phishing scams. We can do this by heeding the following advice:
1. Don’t give anyone your private information, i.e. usernames, passwords, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, account numbers, and more.
2. Be aware of urgency on the part of people involved in a phishing fraud attack.
3. Any email that seems questionable or suspicious, delete immediately. Do not open it.
4. Avoid hyperlinks.
5. Change your computer passwords frequently.
6. Remember that legitimate companies will never ask you to update or confirm information.
7. Use Internet firewalls and be sure to update them regularly.
8. Turn off your computer when you are not using it.
Yes, phishing could happen to you. Be alert and be sure to report any incident you have encountered to the Federal Trade Commission.
And guess what? I haven’t even touched on vishing. You may have to research that one yourself!