Have you ever received an email from a familiar website asking you to click the link to login and update your personal information? Maybe they need you to update your password, social security number credit card numbers, and bank account number. You may even see this on social networking sites, asking you to update your email and password. You think this email is coming from a trusted site that you are a member of. They even provide a link for you to login with, to make it easier for you. That is nice of them, right? Wrong. You later find out that this site is a fake and intentions of stealing your personal information. They are “phishing” (which is actually pronounced as “fishing”) you.
What is “phishing”, you ask? Phishing is an act of falsely sending out an email claiming to have an established business (online or offline) that is legitimate. This so-called business then scams or tricks the recipient into giving them their personal information. They use this information to then steal the recipient’s identity.
Spotting an email that is looking to phish someone is not always easy. When you first glance at it, it may look like the email address of a legitimate company. The email address may even have the company’s name mentioned and end in “.com”. When you click on the link in the email itself, it takes you to a website that looks like the company’s website. But this site is fake and only a replica of the legitimate site.
Many of the people behind this phishing are professional criminals who have spent time to create emails and websites that look real. They will make the emails sound real and even copy the logos or graphics from the legitimate company’s website. Of course, they will also have a link that is clickable, making it convenient to visit the website and “update” (or give them) your personal update. So when you receive an email from a business telling you to update your information, review this email. While the email in the “From” field may look to be real, there is a huge possibility that this is a fake email just waiting to steal your personal information.
So how can you tell if an email and website is legitimate before clicking on the link and becoming phished? First take your mouse and hover over (or point at) the link with the mouse curser. Keep the mouse curser on the link (without clicking it) and look at the bottom left-hand side of your computer screen. You can now see the actual website address, making it easier for you to see if it is a legitimate website or not.
There is one other way to avoid becoming phished by a scam site. Never click on the links within a text of the email. In fact, you should immediately delete this email and empty out the trash box. If you are worried that you will end up deleting a legitimate email rather than a fake one, then either hover the mouse over the link to check the address (as stated earlier) or type in the website URL address in the browser yourself instead of clicking on it. Do not type in the address in the email, but type in the address in which you know you have the account. For example, if you get an email from the social networking site of “Facebook.com” telling you to update your personal information and password, then do not click on the link in the email. Instead, type in the full address into the browser, which would be “http://www.facebook.com” and then update your information there. This way, you will know that you have gone to the correct site without any worries.
When checking your email or social networking inboxes, be aware and careful of emails asking you to update information. This could be someone who is looking to use phishing to steal your information and identity. After all, it is better to be safe now than sorry later.