Home Tech & Innovation Go phish: keep your identity safe from thiefs

Go phish: keep your identity safe from thiefs


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Phishing, for those who’ve not had the pleasure, refers to fraudulent electronic attempts to acquire personal information such as bank and credit card data, usernames and passwords, and any other details that can be used in identity theft.

Phishing emails can be tricky to spot. Often they look exactly like legit messages from banks or creditors. Here’s the really sneaky part: they contain dangerous links that take you to fraudulent spoof sites.

As luck would have it, Intel can help you to identify phishing emails, nixing them before they do any damage…

Safety first

Many phishing emails contain a threat of some kind – stay vigilant for the following scare-mongering tactics:

  • Your account will be suspended or frozen if you don’t update your private information immediately
  • New security measures are being implemented and you must complete an online form to activate them
  • A charge has been debited from your account
  • You will receive a whopping sum of money if you complete a survey, or contact someone from another country (Nigeria anyone?) for more information on how to access the cash

Dear Valued Customer

Keep in mind that most websites have established a policy of never soliciting sensitive information such as passwords, account numbers, or personal identification numbers from customers by email. The simple act of requesting this information is a strong indication it’s fraudulent.

Often the fraudulent email will refer to you in generic terms such as ‘Valued Customer’, rather than by your own name. Another hint you’re the victim of dodgy dealings is if the ‘From’ field looks odd or is inconsistent with the ‘From’ address in the email headers. Upon closer inspection you’ll see that many of these emails come from free accounts such as Yahoo or Gmail.

A super-simple way to sniff out email fraud is to hover your mouse over embedded links without actually clicking. If the links point to a site that isn’t the one the email claims, you’ve got yourself a dud.

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Many extra sneaky scam artists try to pull the wool by including the name of the spoofed site somewhere within their URL. Never, ever click on any of the links in such a message. Instead, open a browser window and manually type in the name of the site the email claims to come from.

Log directly into your account and check your balance. If your account has been frozen or a suspicious charge has been made, it will show up in your legitimate online account.

Alternatively, you can call the financial institution on the telephone. However, make sure that you get the correct number from the phone book or from their Web site. Never call a telephone number included in a phishing email.

Avoid receiving phishing emails altogether

To prevent scam emails from reaching you in the first place, keep your primary email address private. Only give it to people you know very well, such as friends, co-workers, and family.

Set up another, free, email address to use when you are shopping online or signing up for services. If you discover that you’re receiving fraudulent emails on that account, delete it and open another one. This will protect you not only from phishing attempts, but also from spam and unwanted newsletters and promotions.

Whenever possible, forward phishing emails to the sites they are pretending to come from, alerting the company that there are folks out there misusing its brand. If you ever mistakenly click the link to a spoof site and enter your personal information, immediately change your passwords and contact the financial institutions that hold the account numbers you provided.

For added protection, use the phishing detector that comes with your web browser. It doesn’t take much practice to become adept at recognising phishing emails. When in doubt, always reach for the delete button.

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