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Don't phall for a phish!

Dec 19

Written by: Friday, December 19, 2014 4:45:58 PM 

IDon't Phall for a Phish!

Phishing email messages, websites and phone calls are designed to steal money. Cybercriminals can do this by installing malicious software or stealing personal information off your computer. They also use social engineering to convince you to install malicious software or share your personal information under false pretenses.

Always be wary and look for the following tell-tale signs that an email may be a phishing scam:

  • Not personalized. Usually the emails open with generic greetings because the scammers don’t know the names of the people they are emailing. Emails that start off with “Dear Customer” or simply “Hello!” are often phishing scams.

  • Spelling and bad grammar. Professional organizations usually have a communications staff that will not allow an error-filled email to go out to its users. If you notice mistakes, it might be a scam.

  • Odd links. Don’t click on a link in a suspicious email. Rest your mouse (but don't click) on the link to see if the address matches the link that was typed in the message. In the example below, the real web address is revealed in the box. Notice how the string of cryptic numbers looks nothing like the company's web address:

  • Threats. Have you ever received a threat that your PayPal account would be closed if you didn't respond to an email? Scammers often use threats like these in hopes that your concern spurs quick action before you’ve had time to think it through.

  • Spoofing popular websites or companies. Scam artists use graphics that appear to be connected to legitimate websites but actually take you to phony scam sites or legitimate-looking pop-up windows. Cybercriminals also use web addresses that resemble the names of well-known companies but are slightly altered. For example, links to “” might be altered to “”

In addition, follow these tips to protect yourself from becoming a phishing scam victim:

  • Don't reply to email or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information.

  • Don't click on links in emails. If an email contains a link, type it in manually.

  • Be careful with opening attachments or downloading files referenced by an email.

  • Don't email personal or financial data.

  • Review credit card and bank statements regularly, looking for signs of fraud. Often, the first charge put through by a scammer is very small (usually a dollar or less) to verify a card's validity.

  • Remember that legitimate businesses never request personal or financial information via email. If you receive an email purporting to be from your bank, check it out by calling the number on your statement or credit card, not the one in the email.