A:

The term phishing (as in fishing for confidential information) refers to a scam that fraudulently obtains and uses an individual's personal or financial information through the use of the internet or another mobile communication device. Here's the typical way that it works:

  • An individual receives an email which appears to originate from a financial institution, government agency, or a credible institution or company with which you may do business.

  • The message describes an urgent reason that you must "verify" or "re-submit" personal or confidential information by responding in electronic format via a link.

  • The link will take you to a website that appears to look like the reputable organization, but it is actually a website that belongs to the scammer or criminal.

  • Once you are taken to the fraudulent website, you could be asked to provide certain information such as: driver's license number, account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, date of birth and other confidential information.

  • When the individual provides the information, the criminals will then utilize this information to steal your identity by gaining access to personal accounts.

Some of the common "phishing scams" are found in emails that appear to be from someone that you might know, a social networking website, fake websites that accept donations for charities, your instant messaging program and on a cell phone or other mobile device.

Your first level of defense against these scam artists and various other malicious software out there, is to secure your computer by keeping your operating system up-to-date, installing anti-virus software and anti-spyware software. The second level is to be smart and avoid giving any personal information across the internet. If you happen to receive an email that you suspect is a phishing scam, you should contact the real organization immediately and also contact the InternetCrimeComplaintCenter (www.ic3.gov), which is a partnership between the FBI, the NationalWhiteCollarCrimeCenter and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Information stolen by hackers can be used to steal your indentity, read Indentity Theft: How To Avoid It to learn ways to safeguard your sensitive information.

The question was answered by Steven Merkel.

RELATED FAQS
  1. What are the top Social Security scams targeted at the elderly?

    Prevent Social Security scams by learning to recognize the most common types of scams that target senior citizens receiving ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are the most common scams regarding Social Security benefits?

    Learn about some of the most common Social Security scams that occur by phone, email and direct mail, and how to recognize ... Read Answer >>
  3. Is getting a free credit report safe?

    Discover whether getting a free credit report is safe, and find out how to get a legitimate free credit report. Understand ... Read Answer >>
  4. What are the warning signs of online hotel / travel booking scams?

    Learn more about travel booking scams and how to avoid them. Explore warning signs of possible booking scams, and find out ... Read Answer >>
  5. How does a pump and dump scam work?

    A pump and dump scam is the illegal act of an investor or group of investors promoting a stock they hold and selling once ... Read Answer >>
  6. A CFA Member or Candidate may be justified in disclosing confidential information ...

    The correct answer is: D) While acknowledging the importance of preserving confidentiality (and sensitivity of financial ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Tech

    Cybersecurity: Protect Yourself This Tax Season

    Take a little extra time to review online communications and avoid becoming a cybercrime victim.
  2. Insights

    10 Tips To Avoid Common Financial Scams

    Remember that "don't talk to strangers" rule from childhood? Well, don't wire them money either. Or fall for these other tricks.
  3. Personal Finance

    6 New Credit Scams To Watch Out For

    It seems that everyone has their hand in your pocket these days. Learn how to protect yourself against these financial scams.
  4. Tech

    How to Keep Accounts Safe From Cyber Criminals

    With the advancement of financial technology online comes the risk of criminals who try to hack your accounts. Here's how to protect yourself.
  5. Tech

    CEO Email Scams Cost $2 billion

    CEO email scams cost a pretty packet, according to the FBI.
  6. Tech

    Top Mobile Banking Dangers And How To Avoid Them

    Banks have improved the functionality of mobile banking so that consumers can transfer funds, pay bills or check balances whenever and wherever they may be.
  7. Insights

    How to Protect Your Assets From Cyber Thieves

    Taking these precautions can keep you a step ahead of identity thieves and fraudsters.
  8. Managing Wealth

    7 Signs Of A Charitable Disaster Scam

    Make sure you know where your donations are going, and where they can be most effective.
  9. Investing

    Common Scams Targeted At Teens

    Teens should be aware of these scams, which include scholarship frauds and fraudulent investments.
  10. Insights

    5 Natural Disaster Scams To Watch For

    Before you write check, make sure you know about the organization you're giving it to and where the money's going.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Phishing

    A method of identity theft carried out through the creation of ...
  2. Nigerian Scam

    A scam where the sender requests help in facilitating the transfer ...
  3. Cross-Firing Scam

    A type of scam in which a business transfers money between its ...
  4. Data Breach

    A data breach is an unauthorized access and retrieval of sensitive ...
  5. Identity Theft

    The crime of obtaining the personal or financial information ...
  6. Zero Liability Policy

    A condition in a credit card agreement stating that the card ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Restricted Stock Unit

    Compensation offered by an employer to an employee in the form of company stock. The employee does not receive the stock ...
  2. Operating Ratio

    A ratio that shows the efficiency of a company's management by comparing operating expense to net sales. Calculated as:
  3. Expense Ratio

    A measure of what it costs an investment company to operate a mutual fund. An expense ratio is determined through an annual ...
  4. Pro Forma

    A Latin term meaning "for the sake of form". In the investing world, it describes a method of calculating financial results ...
  5. Trumpcare

    The American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare and Ryancare, is the Republican proposal to replace Obamacare.
  6. Free Carrier - FCA

    A trade term requiring the seller to deliver goods to a named airport, terminal, or other place where the carrier operates. ...
Trading Center