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. 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 >>
  6. 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 >>
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Watch Out For These Top Internet Scams

    The Internet had make it easier than ever for scammers to trick people into giving away their money and personal information. These are the scams to avoid.
  2. Investing

    What Is Phishing?

    Find out more about this scam and how to avoid it.
  3. Financial Advisor

    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.
  4. Investing

    CEO Email Scams Cost $2 billion

    CEO email scams cost a pretty packet, according to the FBI.
  5. Personal Finance

    Credit Scams To Watch Out For

    More than 30 million people were victims of fraud in 2007. Will you be next?
  6. Markets

    Recognize And Avoid "Work At Home" Scams

    From pyramid schemes to envelope stuffing, there are a lot of scams masquerading as legitimate part-time work.
  7. Retirement

    Avoid These 5 Scams Targeting Senior Citizens

    Unfortunately, many scam artists try to prey on people whom they perceive as particularly vulnerable, especially seniors.
  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. Personal Finance

    Identity Theft: How To Avoid It

    Don't be a victim of this disturbing crime. Get insight into how perpetrators commit this form of fraud.
  10. Retirement

    Telephone Scams That Target Seniors

    The caller claims to be your grandson, who needs bail money...or an IRS agent demanding tax payments...or another fraudulent schemer. Learn their tactics.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Phishing

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

    A slang term meaning that a consumer who was previously defrauded ...
  3. Spoofing

    A type of deception where an intruder attempts to gain unauthorized ...
  4. Smishing

    The use of SMS (short messaging services) technology to phish ...
  5. Bottom-Dollar Scam

    Fraudulent claims by swindlers or con artists who prey on job ...
  6. Nigerian Scam

    A scam where the sender requests help in facilitating the transfer ...
Hot Definitions
  1. European Union - EU

    A group of European countries that participates in the world economy as one economic unit and operates under one official ...
  2. Sell-Off

    The rapid selling of securities, such as stocks, bonds and commodities. The increase in supply leads to a decline in the ...
  3. Brazil, Russia, India And China - BRIC

    An acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. It has been speculated that by 2050 these four ...
  4. Brexit

    The Brexit, an abbreviation of "British exit" that mirrors the term Grexit, refers to the possibility of Britain's withdrawal ...
  5. Underweight

    1. A situation where a portfolio does not hold a sufficient amount of a particular security when compared to the security's ...
  6. Russell 3000 Index

    A market capitalization weighted equity index maintained by the Russell Investment Group that seeks to be a benchmark of ...
Trading Center