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. 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 >>
  2. 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 >>
  3. 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. 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. Tech

    Cybersecurity: Stay Safe Online With These Tips

    No one can guarantee that any of us are 100% safe from cyber and identity related crimes, but we can make ourselves less of a target. Here's how.
  4. 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.
  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. Financial Advisor

    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. Investing

    Common Scams Targeted At Teens

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

    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.
  10. Financial Advisor

    The Dangers Of Using Personal Finance Apps

    You should think twice before downloading any app that requires your bank account login or other personal information.
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. Social Engineering

    Social engineering is the act of exploiting human weaknesses ...
  4. Smishing

    The use of SMS (short messaging services) technology to phish ...
  5. Nigerian Scam

    A scam where the sender requests help in facilitating the transfer ...
  6. Bottom-Dollar Scam

    Fraudulent claims by swindlers or con artists who prey on job ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Stop-Limit Order

    An order placed with a broker that combines the features of stop order with those of a limit order. A stop-limit order will ...
  2. Down Round

    A round of financing where investors purchase stock from a company at a lower valuation than the valuation placed upon the ...
  3. Keynesian Economics

    An economic theory of total spending in the economy and its effects on output and inflation. Keynesian economics was developed ...
  4. Portfolio Investment

    A holding of an asset in a portfolio. A portfolio investment is made with the expectation of earning a return on it. This ...
  5. Treynor Ratio

    A ratio developed by Jack Treynor that measures returns earned in excess of that which could have been earned on a riskless ...
  6. Buyback

    The repurchase of outstanding shares (repurchase) by a company in order to reduce the number of shares on the market. Companies ...
Trading Center