Identity Theft Protection & Phishing
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Introduction

Identity theft protection is more important now than ever. With the recent rise of identity theft through all of the data breaches that have been in the news lately, it is also important to understand how cyber criminals can trick you into giving up your personal identifying information from within your email inbox.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a form of cybercrime that involves creating a fictitious email from a well-known business or website that encourages its readers to reply with and verify personal identifying information such as passwords, account numbers, usernames or the like. In addition to asking for verification of your information, these pesky emails can also install malicious software on your computer that can create devastating consequences. These consequences can range from not being able to open any or all of your files, to not being able to access the Internet or if you can, being directed to inappropriate websites, to deleting files from your computer, or the worst of the worst reformatting your entire hard drive.

How to Recognize a Phishing Email

Here are some key elements to look at. For example, as you read through the email do you notice a lot of really bad grammar? Is the email from any of your financial institutions? If so, they would never ask for your account number(s) or your passwords in an email!! Come on folks, where is your common sense? Speaking of which…do you really think that you have a long lost Russian uncle who has just passed away and left you a $2 million dollar inheritance? Do you really think he would notify you via email? No, if he were real you would be getting a phone call or a certified letter from an attorney.

Another clue to an email scam is to take a very close look at all of the hyperlinks in the email. Simply point your mouse pointer to any of the links in the actual email and just rest the pointer on the link…don’t click it! There will be a small box that appears with the web address in it. If the box and the actual hyperlink address do not match, there is a really good indicator that the email is a phishing scam.

What to Do with Phishing Email

If you receive a lot of these types of email, you can train your email client to not place them in you inbox and just delete them by creating filters based on the addresses that they are sent from. In addition, most email clients have buttons that you can use to report these emails as “junk” or “spam.” If you are receiving them from your financial institutions, you can contact those institutions directly and report the phishing attempts.


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