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 some high-profile examples of wash trading schemes?

    In 2012, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) was accused of a complex wash trading scheme to profit from a Canadian tax provision, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How should a whistleblower report unlawful or unethical behavior?

    Whistleblowing takes many forms. A whistleblower could expose government corruption, expose unethical business behavior or ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do insurance companies use a whistleblower?

    Fraudulent claims are among the most prevalent and serious business risks that insurance companies face. Many consumers have ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are examples of inherent risk?

    Inherent risk is the risk imposed by complex transactions that require significant estimation in assessing the impact on ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What were the primary financial crimes involved in the ZZZZ Best case?

    ZZZZ Best was a company started by Barry Jay Minkow that claimed to be a carpet cleaning business. In fact, it was a Ponzi ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between wash trading and insider trading?

    Wash trading is an illegal trading activity that artificially pumps up trading volume in a stock without the stock ever changing ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Why Enron Collapsed

    Enron’s collapse is a classic example of greed gone wrong.
  2. Professionals

    4 Must Watch Films and Documentaries for Accountants

    Learn how these must-watch movies for accountants teach about the importance of ethics in a world driven by greed and financial power.
  3. Investing Basics

    4 Iconic Financial Companies That No Longer Exist

    Learn how poor management, frauds, scandals or mergers wiped out some of the most recognizable brands in the finance industry in the United States.
  4. Active Trading

    What Is A Pyramid Scheme?

    The FTC announced it had opened an official investigation of Herbalife, which has been accused of running a pyramid scheme. But what exactly does that mean?
  5. Investing Basics

    How Financial Statements Are Manipulated

    Financial statement manipulation is an ongoing problem, and investors who buy stocks or bonds should be aware of its signs and implications.
  6. Economics

    3 Notorious American White Collar Criminals

    Learn about the crimes and punishments of some of the most infamous convicted white-collar crooks.
  7. Savings

    Is It Safe to Send Money Through Gmail? (GOOG)

    Learn why Google's safeguards minimize the risks of sending money via Gmail, but also realize how hackers' sophistication always renders the Internet less than 100% safe.
  8. Investing Basics

    Top 3 Most Scandalous Insider Trading Debacles

    While insider trading is often difficult to spot, there have been plenty of egregious examples in history that were fairly simple to detect.
  9. Economics

    Detecting Financial Statement Fraud

    Fraudulent financial statements account for about 10% of the white-collar crime incidents reported each year.
  10. Taxes

    5 Ways to Avoid Identity Fraud

    Identity theft was the number one consumer complaint in 2014. Here are some ways you can protect yourself.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Racketeering

    A fraudulent service built to serve a problem that wouldn't otherwise ...
  2. Money Laundering

    Money laundering is the process of creating the appearance that ...
  3. Black Money

    Money earned through any illegal activity controlled by country ...
  4. Credit Card Dump

    The unauthorized copying of all the information contained in ...
  5. PIN Cashing

    A type of fraud in which a stolen credit card or debit card is ...
  6. Carding Forum

    A website dedicated to the sharing of stolen credit card numbers. ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  2. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  3. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  4. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  5. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  6. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
Trading Center