by Chris, Tucson Computer Repair Service / SMB Arizona
“Phishing”, pronounced just like “fishing,” is defined as “the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication”–Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing). There are many variations of this scam, but here’s how it typically works:
You receive an email apparently from Wells Fargo, Chase, BofA, Ebay, Paypal, or any number of corporations with whom you might have done business in the past or are currently doing business in the present. I say “apparently” because the email can really look like it actually did come from one of these legitimate organizations. For example, in the body of the email you might see the Wells Fargo or Ebay logo, the look of the email may closely resemble the look of a certain company’s website or other genuine emails you have received in the past.
In the email you’ll be asked to click on a link in order to update certain information about yourself: usually it is your username and password to an online banking or payment account. When you click on the link, you’re presented with a login screen that might remarkably resemble the “real” thing. But don’t be fooled. It may look like the actual login screen for, say, your Paypal account, but it is not. Once you submit your username and password, the scammers can then use this information against you.
See video below on how to recognize “phishing”.
I’ve been phished (unsuccessfully) more times than I can count. It’s extremely common. Phish emails that purport to come from Ebay and Paypal are the most common ones I get personally. In general banks and online payment companies are the types of companies most commonly masqueraded.
No legitimate company will ever ask you via email to update your credit card information, username or password, or any other type of sensitive personal or financial information. If you do get an email asking you to do so, be safe and assume it is fraudulent. Do not click on any links in the email message or reply to the email itself. Delete it. You can always phone the company in question if you have any concerns.
Phishing is probably the most pernicious form of Internet fraud out there today because it can do, and has done, the most damage to peoples’ lives. People have lost their entire savings due to phishing scams. Be safe, be informed.