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#Phishing is a Serious Threat… Be Prepared!

In all probability, you would have received an email at one time or another asking you to visit a familiar website – a website which you know looks like the website of the business – to update your personal details.

So obligingly you visit the website which is conveniently provided as a link right there is the email asking you to update your details. You are asked to verify or update your passwords, credit card numbers, social security number, or even your bank account number. If you’re not familiar with the ways of the Internet you will, as requested, update the necessary details as you have been directed to, without smelling a rat, after all good customer service is a premium and you like the businesses, banks and governments that you deal with to be proactive in maintaining your details.

Well, if you had followed such email instructions and updated your personal, security or financial information on a website that seems similar to a website with whom you regularly do business, then, my friend, you have been “phished”!

Your personal and financial information is now the property of phishers and hackers who will misuse it as soon as possible, causing you grave financial distress, loss of face and a bad credit rating! And that’s just for starters… the personal misery will last for about 2 years!

Phishing (which is pronounced as “fishing”) refers to email scams that are aimed squarely and directly at stealing your identity also known as ”identity theft”.

These Phishing scams all work in basically the same manner. You are sent an email from what appears to be your bank, credit card company, the IRS, even courier services, charities and the list goes on and on. These “phishing” emails which are literally sent out in the tens of millions, asking you to visit a website which has been specially crafted to mimic the genuine website it is purported to represent where you will be presented with all the fields necessary to complete and update information such as passwords, usernames, social security numbers, credit card numbers. And like we said before, once you do that, there’ll be hell to pay. It has even been reported that some lazy phishing websites will even use the images directly from the real website, which confuses the issue because the links to these browser objects like the pictures and even style sheets etc. are genuinely from the real site.

The “From” field of the phisher’s e-mail will nearly always carry a real email address of the financial institution or brand it is trying to represent in hopes that you deal with this brand regularly. Nearly everybody has received an email and wondered why it was sent to them because they didn’t have any relationship with “The First National Bank of Nowhere”? So you dodged a bullet on that instance, because that was Phishing. Even the website these phishing emails ask you to visit will look very close to the website with whom you do business and even the website address mentioned in the email will be the same as the financial institution’s, but it will actually link to the phisher’s website. The link displayed in not always the link that is clicked. They are two separate things.

Phishers are high-tech, professional criminals! Most of them have nothing to do and all day to do it! They spend considerable time and effort in replicating a financial institution’s website and build an email template that appears genuine. The logos, colors and taglines used on a phiser’s email and website are deceptively similar to the main website. With stakes so high and payoffs so large and easy, it’s not unheard of that the Phishers will also spam test their emails to make sure they will fit through as many spam filters as possible to maximize the payback. Then these phishers spend time and money in stealing databases and then emailing the customers in the database, and asking them to update their financial information. Again, it’s not unheard of to have real employees stealing your information and selling it to these crooks, after all that’s easy money and more arms length than running the phishing scam, so if it all goes wrong and the police catch up with the crooks, which happens very rarely, there is a high degree of deniability for the actual employee.

If you suspect you have received a phishing email, then here’s a neat trick to figure out if the link given in the email is fraudulent or the real thing – Just point your mouse at the link and look at the bottom-left hand side of your screen. The real website address where you are being directed will show up there. This is a quick and easy way to check if you are being directed to a legitimate website. But before you think you have the bad guys worked out.. they are getting a little more crafty too. Using a series of similar looking letters or by leaving letters out, it is possible to create a URL that looks exactly like what your brain is expecting to see on a cursory glance, so perhaps https://www.paypaI.com and http://G00GLE.COM which is actually g zero zero gle.com but in this font you can’t tell the difference is not exactly as you were expecting, but they are close enough?

Here’s a rule you must follow – never click on links within emails unless you’re dead sure the email is from a genuine party! Which YOU NEVER CAN BE! So DON’T CLICK ON LINKS IN EMAILS! If you suspect the mail is from a phisher, delete it immediately and empty the trash folder. If you feel you are missing some emails or notices from an important financial website, then do take the trouble to type its entire URL address in your browser – You will at least be confident that you are visiting the legitimate website.

Now if this all appears a little too stressful and you would rather that you didn’t have to even think about this kind of email, then a simple solution is wumber anti-spam! The wumber anti-spam system doesn’t filter spam it prevents it in the first place. Emails in your inbox can only be sent to you by the people that you know and have given your email address to. To further protect you the wumber anti-phishing Add-On for Microsoft Internet Explorer will prevent you for giving real security details to a fake website, so your protected all round! wumber is free to join and it’s free for everyone to use, so Join today!