Don’t Go Surfing, If You Haven’t Checked the Tank First

Don’t let the phish in your email “tank” become sharks. Find out what you can do about them and about this important service that stops phishing scams.

That’s PhishTank, not fish tank. There are no swishing goldfish or dancing betas here and rather than a tank that needs to be cleaned, means to clean up the tank. The tank they want to clean up is the internet. is a web site that acts as a collaborative clearinghouse for data and information on phishing on the internet.
What is phishing?
The name PhishTank refers to phishing, the type of scams that the site tracks. Phishing is any scam initiated in order to steal your personal information. The purpose of stealing your personal information of course is to steal your identity and commit financial fraud.
The most common form of phishing is through e-mails. Phishing e-mails usually appear to come from an organization that is well known and the e-mails often look and sound official. The e-mails are an attempt to collect your personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, user names and passwords. In recent years, phishing scams have targeted victims by imitating PayPal, banks, the Better Business Bureau and even the IRS.
Phishing e-mails will attempt to get you to click on a link that takes you to an unsafe site in order to “phish” for your personal information.
How does work to protect consumers from phishing attacks?
PhishTank collects and shares statistics and information about phishing scams on the internet. PhishTank also provides an open API for developers and researcher to integrate anti-phishing data into their applications free of charge.
PhishTank registrants are invited to submit suspected phishing, track the status of your submissions and verify whether or not their own or others submissions are verified to be phishing scams.
PhishTank Success
PhishTank just celebrated their second anniversary. In that time over 1 million phishing scams have been reported. Earlier this year PhishTank PC World honored PhishTank with the Top Product of 2008 award.
There are over 29,000 registered users of PhishTank. This means a large amount of shared information and that allows PhishTank to educate consumers on the latest scams and help them protect themselves from identity theft.
Tips for Recognizing Phishing E-Mails
PhishTank offers the following tips for avoiding being “caught” as the victim of a phishing scam.
* A generic greeting.
Phishing emails are usually sent in large batches. To save time, Internet criminals use generic names like “First Generic Bank Customer” so they don’t have to type all recipients’ names out and send emails one-by-one. If you don’t see your name, be suspicious.
*A forged link.
Even if a link has a name you recognize somewhere in it, it doesn’t mean it links to the real organization. Roll your mouse over the link and see if it matches what appears in the email. If there is a discrepancy, don’t click on the link. Also, websites where it is safe to enter personal information begin with “https” — the “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see “https” do not proceed.
* Requests personal information.
The point of sending phishing email is to trick you into providing your personal information. If you receive an email requesting your personal information, it is probably a phishing attempt.
* A sense of urgency.
Internet criminals want you to provide your personal information now. They do this by making you think something has happened that requires you to act fast. The faster they get your information, the faster they can move on to another victim.
What’s involved in registering to join and participate in is very user friendly. All it takes to join in the fight against phishing is to type in a username (one that will be displayed and identity you on the site), an e-mail address, password you create and a verification code. It’s really that simple.
Consumer education is one of the largest nets in fighting identity theft. has the latest hooks on how to avoid taking the bait for identity theft.