Have you recieved messages asking you for your assistance? Or messages that appear to be from Amazon, PayPal, DHL or a bank requesting you to use their link to confirm your personal and credit information? These types of messages are called “phishing” emails and are used to get yourcredit information for the purpose of credit card fraud or identity theft. How can you protect yourself from this type of scam?
Have you ever opened your email to discover a message from a “Prince” in Africa who randomly chose you out of all the people in the world to help him smuggle his millions of dollars out of the country and for which help he will give you a substantial payment? Or how about the Amazon.com or Paypal.com email message that advises you that your account has been possibly accessed or information compromised and you immediately need to click the link provided, log in and change your password to protect your personal and financial information? These messages are called “phishing,” (pronounced fishing ) because after all that is what is happening someone is fishing for information.
Phishing is a method used by thieves to obtain personal or financial information via the Internet, relying on people’s fear that their information may be compromised and that we like quick and easy fixes. Some email accounts catch a few of the phishing messages that are sent to you, but you can also install software that will catch all of it, detecting the programming that is standard for phishing messages. Even with good protection, some messages may get through, but the majority of them should be delivered to your “junk” or “spam” mail box.
Recently a friend of mine learned of the necessity for setting her spam alerts, phishing alerts and using her software program that protects against phishing. She received the message below, which indicates that she will be receiving a bank draft for millions of dollars and that the sender has already shipped it and paid for certain fees associated with shipping. For the payment of $200.00 and answering a few short questions, the check will be promptly delivered to her. Of course, with the details requested, and a simple email or phone call to the contact person listed, an identity thief now has all that he or she possibly needs in order to steal your identity, obtain credit, or even simply charge several thousand dollars to your credit card.
How can you protect yourself from these types of scams?
1) Carefully monitor your email messages, be sure to use the spam and phishing controls available through most major email messaging systems, so that messages will be delivered to your spam/junk/phishing mail box which you can review at your leisure.
2) Beware of any email message that is sent to you that requests personal or credit card information, requires you to use a link provided, or advises you that your information has been compromised. In most cases, banks and retailers will not contact you via email to notify you of threats to your information, but will contact you via regular mail.
3) You can often check Snopes.com for information on scams and frauds, as well as urban myths, and viruses especially before responding or forwarding e-mail. Quite often e-mail contain tracking information and by forwarding messages to friends and family you are putting their email address at risk.
4) Use a software program that protects against phishing. Many antivirus and anti spyware protection programs include phishing software detection. Review the features of your choice of software to determine if it also detects phishing. Some programs you may wish to explore include Norton, Kapersky, McAfee, and Panda.
5) Do not respond to these messages, it simply feeds the cycle.
6) Do not click the hyper link provided. Open a separate window, type in the address of the company it appears to be from (such as PayPal), log in and check their site for information. In just about every case you will find that the message you received is a fraud and you can located an email address to send the message to, so that the bank or retailer may address it. Clicking on the link can confirm your email address as one in use, take you to an unsafe website and possibly leave your computer open to viruses or other threats.
7) Most importantly NEVER give out your personal information, even something as small as your address without knowing the person very very well, especially via email. It is best if any information is transmitted on line through a secure site, with encryption.
It is important to report these types of scams to the retailer or financial services provider that it claims to be from. This helps in the detection and protection from phishing e-mail, as well as keeps them informed. By reporting and monitoring phishing threats, software can be created to be better able to detect them and efforts made to actually eliminate them. By following these simple steps, consumers are more informed and much safer from identity theft.
I am Mr.Mark William. I have been waiting for you
to contact me for your Confirmable Bank Draft of
$1,000.000.00 United States Dollars, but I did not
hear from you ever since, So I went and deposited
the Draft with DHL Courier company in Nigeria,
West Africa.I have travelled out of the country
for a 3 months course and I will not come back till end
of August. What you have to do now is to contact
DHL Courier Company as soon as possible to know
when they will deliver your package to you because
of the expiring date. For your information, I have paid
for the delivering Charge, Insurance premium and
Clearance Certificate Fee of the Cheque showing that
it is not a Drug Money or meant to sponsor Terrorist
attack in your Country.The only money you will send
to the DHL Courier Company to deliver your Draft
direct to your postal Address in your country is ($200.00 US)
Dollars being the Security Keeping Fee of the Draft so
far. Again, don’t be deceived by anybody to pay any
other money except $200.00 US Dollars.I would have
paid that but they said no because they don’t know
when you will contact them and in case of demurrage.
You have to contact DHL Courier Company now
for the delivery of your Draft with the following
Contact Person: Mr.Peter Donald
Finally, make sure you reconfirm your Postal address
and direct telephone number to them so as to avoid any
mistake on the Delivery.contact them as soon as you
receive this mail in order to avoid any further delay and
remember to pay them their security keeping fee of
$200.00 US Dollars for their immediate action.
You should also let me know through email as soon
as you receive your Draft.
Mr. Mark William