How to Avoid Phishing Scams

Home & Family, Technology
on November 23, 2011

In today’s world of Internet commerce, criminals are working hard to ensnare consumers and rob them of their personal identity information. Email has become a common way for individuals and businesses to communicate with each other. This form of communication can be very convenient, but it can also be a conduit for criminal activity.

In general terms, a phishing scam is often in the form of an email that looks like it is from a legitimate or recognizable business. Some scams even mimic logos and email addresses of major companies. The email often asks readers to verify certain personal or financial information by replying or clicking links in the email. There are steps you can take that will help you avoid these scams.

A measure of common sense. Emails that look suspicious should always be approached with a level of caution. Remember that most companies assure their customers that they will never ask for certain personal information over the phone or via email. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of an email, call the company in question and find out if they actually sent it.

Actions to avoid. Never click links or respond to emails that look questionable. There may be a temptation to respond and ask for clarification or tell the scammer to stop sending emails. However, the best approach is typically to delete the email or mark it as junk in the email preferences. Many email services are becoming more sophisticated at detecting phishing scams, though some still get through.

Software and government involvement. For more protection, use antivirus and antispyware software. The difficulty with phishing scams is that they can also introduce various software packages onto the computer. Some of these programs are very subtle and can do a great deal of damage behind the scenes. If you suspect you are being scammed, you can report the experience. You can contact the Federal Trade Commission to report suspicious activity and get information on the latest scams on the Internet.