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You’ve heard the term internet identity theft. So how does phishing relate to identity theft, and what can you do to block scams and protect your identity?

Phishing is a method of deception, which is designed to steal your identity. In phishing scams, the con artist tries to get you to disclose your personal data.
Their goal is to obtain your credit card number, account information, or login and password so that they can steal your identity.

Identity theft, phishing and scams

These scams usually come in the form of emails that look very legitimate. The scammer pretends to be a legitimate business in an attempt to convince you to divulge your personal information. The information they collect from you is then used to steal your identity. This is why it is so important to be able to block scams.

The email they send you, will either ask you to enter your information on a form that appears in the email, or it will use a link to direct you to a web site where you are then asked to update your personal information. The web site you visit is not legitimate and it’s only purpose is to steal your information.

Customers of large companies such as banks and credit cards are regularly targeted. In the past year there have been thousands of attempts to obtain customer information from E-bay and Paypal users. Many people have fallen for these scams believing the email was legitimate.

Most of these scams will indicate an urgency to update your personal information. They will tell you there was unusual activity on your account, or your personal information is no longer valid or that your information has become outdated. They proceed to scare you into acting quickly, by telling you, if you don’t act immediately your account will be suspended.

These emails arrive looking very legitimate. Presented in an HTML format, they look very much like an email you would receive from the company. They can quite easily fool the average user. The scammers send out millions of emails, counting on a small percentage of users to believe them, thus providing the scammer with the personal information they are looking for. Phishing derived its name from fishing. The process is much the same, bate your hook in an attempt to get your catch.

Phishing can also occur in the form of a pop-up windows. Whether the scammers use email or a pop-up, they will often provide you with a link to a website that appears to be official. Unsuspecting surfers visit the link where they are then asked to provide credit card numbers, account information, login information, or other personal data. It’s no wonder many fall into this trap. These are sophisticated operations that can easily fool the average user
Phishing is a sophisticated business. Emails will contain the logos of the company they are pretending to be, and the site you are directed too will look very official, often an exact copy of the original site. This is easily accomplished by stealing the legitimate sites code.

You do not need to directly provide the scammer with credit card information. Many scammers will use more subtle tactics by asking you to confirm your login and password for sites that store credit card or banking information. Once they have your login and password, it’s clear sailing. They’ll have your information faster than you can cancel the account.

Identity theft is big business, and these scammers will stop at nothing to obtain your personal information. The FTC estimates that during 2003 almost ten million Americans were victims of some form of identity theft. These numbers are expected to double as scammers continue to get more creative making their scams very difficult to spot.

Sadly, every day thousands of people fall victim to these scams, providing their personal information including credit card numbers to these scammers. That’s why it’s so important to block scams before it’s too late. ID Antiphishing accomplishes this task very easily, with little intervention by the user.

How to protect yourself against phishing and scams

There are some things you can do to help keep your data safe. Always choose passwords that are a minimum of 7 characters. Mix letters, characters, and numbers with capital and small letters. Never choose a real word. There are software packages that can scan an entire dictionary of words in minutes. Keep yourself current on which scams are going around. Never use a link in an email. If you think you need to update your information, then follow your normal procedure of accessing the site. Most legitimate companies will not ask for your personal information by email or pop up.

Sadly, even if you are diligent and careful you can be a victim of phishing. Some phishing is so sophisticated, that you have given them your information before you ever realize it was a scam. The best way to block scams and stop phishing is to use ID Antiphishing software. Using ID Antiphishing is like placing a padlock on your personal information. It will keep your computer safe and secure!

Published: 18 Dec 2007  by Cristina Mailat, in: Security Tags: , , RSS feed for comments on this post.

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