• What is phishing?

    Phishing is usually an attempt to deceive you into thinking a legitimate organization is requesting information from you. These requests for information may look innocent at first glance or may seem to come from a legitimate source, but do not. These scams request you reply to an email, respond to a request by phone, or follow a link to a web site.

    Links to websites (sent to you through e-mail) often take you to web pages that look very similar to the legitimate service the e-mail is faking. Banks, E-bay, and online e-cash services like Paypal are common targets.”

    What does a Phishing e-mail look like?

    Phishing e-mails often attempt to use emotional triggers to get you to react quickly without thinking through whether you should respond, such as dire language about time limits, loss of service, penalties, or language targeting a desire for money. They often have grammar, spelling, and syntax errors, and phrasing that a native speaker would not use.

    An example would be an e-mail with a generic greeting warning of a change in an account requiring you to verify your account information. These e-mails typically include directions to reply with private information, or provide a link to a web site to verify your account by providing personal information such as name, address, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or other sensitive personal information.

    Indicators of a phishing e-mail:

    • Name and e-mail address don’t match
    • Attempt to prove legitimacy using words such as ‘Official’
    • Uses a real organization or company name but incorrect e-mail address
    • Poor grammar
    • Unsolicited requests for personal information are a clear danger signal
    • Misspellings

    How can I avoid phishing scams?

    • Never send passwords, bank account numbers, or other private information in an e-mail.
    • Avoid clicking links in e-mails, especially any that are requesting private information.
    • Be wary of any unexpected e-mail attachments or links, even from people you know.
    • Look for ‘https://’ and a lock icon in the address bar before entering any private information.
    • Have an updated anti-virus program that can scan e-mail.

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Last Modified on February 24, 2016