Phishing (pronounced fish’ing) is the act of fraudulently acquiring another person’s personal information such a bank account’s username and password or his credit card or social security information, by falsely claiming to be a legitimate entity. For example, you might suddenly see an email in your inbox which appears to be from a reputed bank asking you to ‘update your personal information” within, say 24 or 48 hours, failing which your account would get suspended. It would convey a sense of urgency which would make many people go ahead and put in their details right away.
These emails might appear to be from someone you know or from one of your banks or it might tell you that you that you have just won a lottery for an unbelievable amount ! These scams generally rely on placing such a phishing link in an email which seems to be from a legitimate entity.
How to recognize phishing scams?
Firstly, remember that your bank or for that matter, any legitimate bank will never ask you to “update” your personal information by sending you a link. If you see any such email which seems to be from one of your banks, you better call your bank immediately and check with them before you put in any of your details on any such link.
If you get any urgent sounding emails like:
- Dear Valued Customer…..Phishing emails usually do not contain your name because they are sent out in bulk
- Please update your Account information: You might receive emails like these which appear to come from your bank.
- If you do not update your information in 48 hours, your account will be deleted.…again, this could appear to come from your bank.
If you see any such kind of email do NOT put in your personal information. You can detect a masked link if you just hover your mouse pointer over that link and the actual URL will be visible to you.
How to prevent a Phishing attack?
1. Update your computer software.
2. Use Internet Explorer 7 or later because they come with a ‘Phishing filter‘.
3. Do NOT click on any links on messages which appear to be phishing emails.
4. Never enter your personal or banking information on popup windows.
5. Check the site’s security certificate before you enter personal or financial information in a website
In case you feel you might have entered your information on any such links, call up your bank or credit card company and let them know right away.