Identify a Phishing Email

Phishing refers to the fraudulent electronic communication process of attempting to acquire personal information such as bank and credit card information, usernames and passwords, along with other details that can be used in identity theft and more.
And phishing emails, or emails that are attempting to gather sensitive information, can be difficult to identify. Many of them look exactly like legitimate messages from your bank or creditors. However, they often contain dangerous links that will take you to fraudulent spoof sites. Like other scam emails, these sites look like the real thing and are aimed at getting you to give up important personal information.
In this article, we'll help you identify a phishing email so you can avoid it altogether.
Identifying phishing emails
Many phishing emails contain a threat of some kind—look for these warning signs and claims:
  • Your account will be suspended or frozen if you don't update your account information immediately
  • New security measures are being implemented and you must complete an online form to activate them
  • A charge that has been debited from your account
  • You are to receive a sum of money if you complete a survey, or contact someone from another country (such as Nigeria) for more information on how to get millions of dollars
Most likely, the fraudulent email will identify you by a generic term such as "Valued Customer" rather than by your name, but not always. Keep in mind that most Web sites have established a policy of never soliciting sensitive information such as passwords, account numbers, or personal identification numbers (PINs) from customers by email. The simple fact that the email is requesting this information at all is a sign that it's fraudulent. Also, if the address in the "From" field looks suspicious or doesn't match the "From" address in the e-mail headers, that's also a sign of fraud. You may also find that these emails come from a free account such as Yahoo* or Gmail*.
A very simple way to identify e-mail fraud is to mouse over the embedded links without clicking. If the links don't point to the site they claim to, then you know you have received a phishing email. Many scam artists try to fool you by including the name of the spoofed site somewhere within their URL. It's extremely important that you never click on any of the links in such a message. Instead, open a browser window and manually type in the name of the site the email claims to come from. Log directly into your account and check your balance. If your account has been frozen or a suspicious charge has been made, it will show up in your legitimate online account. Alternatively, you can call the financial institution on the telephone. However, make sure that you get the correct number from the phone book or from their Web site. Never call a telephone number included in a phishing email.
Avoid receiving phishing emails altogether
To prevent scam emails from reaching you in the first place, keep your primary email address private. Only give it to people you know very well, such as friends, co-workers, and family. Set up another, free, email address to use when you are shopping online or signing up for services. If you discover that you're receiving fraudulent emails on that account, delete it and open another one. This will protect you not only from phishing attempts, but also from spam and unwanted newsletters and promotions.
Whenever possible, forward phishing emails to the sites they are pretending to come from. You can also report phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting and your Internet service provider (ISP).
For added protection, use the phishing detector that comes with your Web browser. If you ever mistakenly click the link to a spoof site and enter your personal information, immediately change your passwords and contact the financial institutions that hold the account numbers you provided.
It doesn't take much practice to become adept at recognizing phishing emails. When in doubt, always reach for the delete button.
Source : Content by Jennifer Claerr.



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