Today most people use credit cards routinely even though credit card scams are increasing. Phishing is one of the credit card scams that is rapidly increasing, so it is critical to understand how it works and prevent becoming a victim.
A phishing scam is the process of attempting to get sensitive information such as credit card details, usernames, passwords and social security numbers by pretending to be a trustworthy organisation.
Phishing e-mail messages can take a number of forms. They might appear to come from your online bank or financial institution, auction sites such as eBay, online payment processors such as PayPal, a company you regularly do business with, or from your social networking site such as YouTube, Facebook or MySpace.
Phishing scams are usually carried out by email or instant messaging, and direct you to a fake website where you enter personal details. The fake website will look similar or identical to the legitimate website.
In order to trick you into revealing your personal details, the message might include phrases like "confirm billing information" or "verify your account" or "update your credit card information" or "If you don't respond within 48 hours your account will be closed".
These are examples of messages you may receive: "We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity." "During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn't verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information." The messages convey a sense of urgency so that you will respond immediately without thinking.
The message might even claim that your quick response is required because your account has been compromised. The messages direct you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization's site, however it's a fake site whose sole purpose is to trick you into giving your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.
Social networking sites are now a prime target of phishing, since the personal details in such sites can be used in identity theft. Experiments show a success rate of over 70% for phishing attacks on social networks.
A phishing scam that is very targeted is called spear phishing. Some recent phishing attacks have been directed specifically at senior executives within businesses, and the term whaling has been coined for these kinds of attacks.
This type of credit card scam may result in denial of access to email, loss of credit, lost access to accounts, or severe financial loss.
If phishers can gain access to username and passwords, they can lock you out of your accounts, and drain accounts of any money and also run up debt. If phishers can obtain your name, date of birth and an address [some of which can be obtained from public records] they can open bank accounts, business accounts and credit cards with which to commit fraud.
In 2007 phishing attacks in the United States involved 3.6 million adults who lost US $ 3.2 billion in the 12 months ending in August 2007.
How to Avoid a Phishing Scam.
Be suspicious of any emails with urgent requests for personal or financial information, especially if they have exciting or upsetting information designed to get you to respond urgently.
Don't reply to email or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information, and don't lick on links in the message. Don't cut and paste a link from the message into your Web browser because phishers can make links look like they go one place, but that actually send you to a different site.
Always ensure that you are using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your web browser.
Phishers are now able to forge both the https:// that you normally see when you are on a secure Web server and also a legitimate looking address. Make sure you enter the address of any banking, shopping, or financial transaction website yourself and don't use displayed links.
Phishers can also forge the yellow lock you would normally see near the bottom of your screen on a secure site. The lock used to be an indicator of a 'safe' site. When the lock is double-clicked, it displays the security certificate for the site. If you get any warnings that the address of the site you have displayed does not match the certificate, don't proceed.
Some phishers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a "refund."
Because they use Voice over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the phishers really are. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card.
Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly.
Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them so you can check for unauthorized charges.
The main thing phishing e-mail messages have in common is that they ask for personal data, or direct you to Web sites or phone numbers to call where they ask you to provide personal data.
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