Tips to Avoid Phishing Scams

Situation: You're surfing along the Internet and you come upon a website that appears interesting. Perhaps you ended up on the site because an offer for a product, or a potential employment offer lured you there. Or, you may have received an email with a link to a website that you're not sure of. First off, if you receive a link to a site within an email it isn't always safe to click through. By doing so you may have just confirmed for a scam artist that a live body does exist at the email address they solicited.

After reading through their information you discover there are things about their site that just doesn't appear legitimate, and you perhaps suspect them as a phishing site, a front for a money laundering scam or other illegal activity. So, what do you do?

Should you just ignore it? Should you report it? I always vote for reporting it. You should consider who the appropriate party is to report it to such as the websites hosting service, the FBI, Secret Service, or other authorities. If for example it is a money laundering scam it should be reported to the FBI and the Secret Service.

It's never good to contact the fraudsters behind the scenes of the website or email you came across. You will want to leave that up to the authorities, and in fact if you contact the site or email the person directly on your own your actions could possibly hinder an investigation that may already be under-way.

Lastly, here is a site called PhishTank to consider reporting a site if it is involved in a phishing scheme. On their site you can research sites that have already been reported, report a suspected site, and follow-up on what happens to sites you report. It's a great tool!

Just to serve as a reminder to those who have not yet become familiar with phishing schemes, here's some information in regards to what the crooks seek to accomplish by setting up a phishing scam: They will be seeking to gain things such as passwords, banking, or other private personal information so they may gain access to your money, or information to steal your identity. Many phishing scams come through emails and will provide a link to a spoof website, such as a fake ebay or PayPal site attempting to get you to disclose your identity and password.

Be careful as you surf the Internet or as you consider offers within emails. Someone may be phishing to pull you under, and we hope you will be armed with the right information to cancel the crooks phishing trip!

© October 2006 Author: Tammara Nelson
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