Phishing Scams seem to be everywhere—those pesky emails warning you that you’re about to exceed your data plan limit…that your account is at risk of being deleted…that there’s a problem with Yahoo. PayPal. Amazon. Your bank. But fear not! All you have to do is enter some personal information—and your PIN, of course—and the issue will be resolved. Yeah, right.
Phishing scams have been around for a long time, and they’re not going away any time soon. Phishing is an email fraud method in which the bad guy claims to be a legitimate enterprise. His goal is to scam you into providing personal and financial information that is then used for identity theft.
The scams work far too often, which is why they’re on the rise. But David Pogue—my favorite tech nerd—offers a few useful ways to spot phishing on your own.
- Take a close look at the logo on the email in question. Are the colors…the design…correct? For example, many of the phony Yahoo emails in circulation feature the company’s old logo.
- Look for spelling and grammatical errors. English is not the first language for a lot of scammers, many of whom are teenagers.
- Point your mouse to the “Click here for more information” link, but don’t click. This lets you see the actual webpage you’re being directed to, and odds are it looks nothing like the real deal.
- Never click a link in an email that seems suspicious to you. Instead, log on to the website directly by typing the address in your browser, then see if there are any alerts that match the info contained in your email.
By employing a bit of common sense and the willingness to trust your instincts and approach all unknown emails you receive with a healthy dose of skepticism, you can help keep identity theft at bay all by yourself.
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