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     --more basics

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Have you ever received an email that stated either of the following?:


"Your bank account information needs to be updated. Please use the link below to enter your personal information".


"During routine account maintenance, we could not confirm your information. Please use the link below to confirm your personal information."

What is phishing?
When someone sends you an email similar to the ones above, it is called "phishing". These emails are not real. They are an attempt to get you to enter your bank account information, credit card numbers, social security number, account PINS, etc. so that they can be used illegally.

Phishers will send you an email that claims to be from a business that you may have a relationship with, i.e. your bank, PayPal, Ebay, etc.. The email will ask you to 'validate', 'update', and/or confirm your account information. Often the phisher will claim that if you do not follow the instructions in the email, that your account will be suspended or deactivated. The website that the email sends you is set-up to look like the businesses' real website. This is to help solidify your trust so that you give up your info.

Once a phisher has your information, they will steal your identity, open up new accounts, commit crimes in your name, etc..

There are things you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a phishing scam:

 -- Never respond to any emails that ask for your personal information or account info. No real company will ask you for this type of information in an email. If you every have any doubts, contact the business in question via telephone and ask them about the email.

  -- When visiting a website, make sure that the url is correct. Never copy and paste the url into the browser from a suspicious email. Phishers have the ability to make the url seem like it is from the genuine company's website.

  -- Buy anti-virus software and make sure that you keep this software updated regularly. There are certain types of phishing scams that will install 'spyware' on your computer. Spyware tracks your internet activity and can even record what you are typing on your keyboard. Learn more about how anti-virus software works.


 -- Install a firewall on your computer. A firewall will protect from hackers and/or phishers that will attempt to access your computer through security holes. A firewall blocks all holes.

 -- Never use email to send personal or financial info to anyone. Email is not a safe means of sending info.

  -- If you are making a purchase from or entering personal info on a website, make sure the site is secure. A secure site's url will always start with https://. The 's' from the http stands for 'secure'.

 -- Be careful about downloading any attachments in emails, no matter who has sent them to you.

Phishing scams can develop into identity theft. There is not a 100% guarantee that you will not become a victim of identity theft. However, if you follow the information provided above, as well as the tips for avoiding identity theft, you minimize your risk.

You should get copy of your credit report regularly so that you can spot any illegal activity quick. Learn what you can do if you do become a victim of identity theft, you must take action fast.

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