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Talkin' Tech:  Phishing                                    
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What is Phishing
How to Spot a Scam
I received an Email
Helpful Links

"Your account will be suspended," "Update your Account," "Unauthorized Account Access" and "Warning Message" are some of the alarming subject headers that may greet you when you open your email.  Emails with these subjects are generally not legitimate, but are phishing scams.  In 2007, phishing scams cost the American public nearly 3.2 billion dollars; however, you can avoid being hooked by a phishing scam with the best known defense, education.

Click on any word in red to see more information on that topic!

What is a phishing scam?
A phishing scam is an email sent to a user falsely claiming to be a legitimate establishment in order to scam the user to surrender their private information.  The email directs the user to a website to enter personal information, such as passwords, social security or bank numbers, and/or credit card information. Please keep in mind a real organization, such as your bank, will not need to solicit this information.  Once you have entered information and clicked Continue or Submit, the information is obtained by the scammer.  The scammer may then use your personal information and commit acts of identity theft.
Take a quiz and see if you can recognize a "fake email" when you receive one.
Phishing and Spam IQ Quiz

How to Spot a Phishing Scam
To the uneducated eye, a phishing scam is often difficult to spot.  A phishing email attempts to convince recipients that the email is real by
including trade names, logos, copyrights and registered symbols.

ebayphising window

Here are some things to look for and consider:

  1. Do you have an account with the company or organization? If not delete it
  2. Is the email addressed to you specifically or to valued customer? If the email does not specifically address your accountit's probably is a phishing scam.
  3. Does the email threaten action unless you respond or take action? If yes, then it is probably a phishing scam. Delete the email
  4. Are there any spelling errors? If yes, delete the email

If you do click on the link in the email, there are further clues that this is a phishing scam

  1. Look at the address bar.  Is this the company's website address?  Also, look to see if https:// is the address line. If not, this is probably a phishing scam
  2. Is there a in the lower right corner of the webpage? If not, this is a phishing scam.
  3. Is the webpage asking you for personal information that the company should already have?  If yes, delete the email.
  4. Go to the website instead of clicking on the link in the email.  If the company has any important information, it will be posted on the website.

I received a phishing scam email. Now what! 

If you were able to identify an email as a phishing scam, don't click on the link or respond to the email.  Please forward the email to Federal Trade Commission's email address and to the company, bank or organization being impersonated.  After forwarding the email, please permanently delete the item by pressing the shift and delete keys.  Do not forward the email to other computer users.

Taken from United States Department of Justice

"If you think you've become a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation. Here's a list -- based in part on a checklist prepared by the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse -- of some actions that you should take right away:

  1. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the situation, whether Online,
  2. By telephone toll-free at 1-877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338) or TDD at 202-326-2502, or
  3. By mail to Consumer Response Center, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.
Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act , the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for receiving and processing complaints from people who believe they may be victims of identity theft, providing informational materials to those people, and referring those complaints to appropriate entities, including the major credit reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies. For further information, please check the FTC's identity theft Web pages . You can also call your local office of the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service to report crimes relating to identity theft and fraud."

Further Information on Spam :

Fighting ID Theft

Federal Trade Commission

Hoax-Slayer

Consumer  Fraud

Consumer Information

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