Protect Yourself from Phishing Scams
By Gerald Thomas

What is phishing (fish’ ing)? Phishing is a type of fraud designed to steal your identity, it is the act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate business in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. In phishing scams, scam artists try to get you to disclose valuable personal information by convincing you to provide it under false pretenses. For example; an e-mail directs the user to a visit a web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, which the legitimate organization already has.
Phishing e-mails claim to be from a trusted financial institution or online service however, it is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information. For example, 2003 saw the proliferation of a phishing scam in which users received e-mails supposedly from eBay claiming that the user’s account was about to be suspended unless he clicked on the provided link and updated the credit card information that the genuine eBay already had.
Because it is relatively simple to make a web site look like a legitimate organization’s website, the scam counted on people being tricked into thinking they were actually being contacted by eBay and were subsequently going to eBay’s site to update their account information. By spamming large groups of people, the “phisher” counted on the e-mail being read by a percentage of people who actually had listed credit card numbers with eBay legitimately.
The faster your contact the proper authorities, the more likely you are to minimize the damage a scammer can do to your identity, your credit, and your bank account. If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud or a scam, immediately follow these steps:

1. Contact the genuine company or organization.
a. If you believe you’ve given sensitive information to an unknown source masquerading as that real company or organization. If you contact the real company immediately, they might be able to lessen the damage to you and others.
2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. In the United States, you can contact these three credit bureaus:
a. Equifax 800/525.6285
Experian 888/397.3792
TransUnion 800/680.7289
3. File a report with your local police department.
a. Get a copy of the police report to notify your bank, credit card company, and other creditors that you are a victim of a crime, not a credit abuser.

The bottom line is you owe it to yourself to protect against identity theft and scam artists to insure that you will not become a victim.

Volume 1 Issue 6