Have you received an urgent email from a financial institution, IRS, Homeland Security, Ebay, or Paypal? Or, from anyone claiming you “must act right away or your accounts may be compromised?”
Most email scams involve “phishing” in which the e-mail notes an urgent need to either click on a link or visit a website in order to protect accounts, re-establish locked accounts, or to avoid future fraud to accounts. The link or website may look exactly like the legitimate website, but in fact is a “dummy” site that is set up to collect the private information you provide in order to commit identity theft or to initiate unauthorized transactions. You should never call the number or visit the website provided in the email…rather, contact the sender at a known number or website directly.
Malicious code embedded in the e-mail
In some cases, the link within the email contains malicious code that is installed on your computer without your knowledge. This is especially true if you don’t keep your anti-virus and operating system updated. This malicious code can include keystroke loggers that log the websites you visit and private user IDs and passwords you enter, or it could include code that allows your computer to be taken over as part of a massive attack against a larger victim.
Phishing prevention – don’t get hooked
- Do not open e-mails from unknown senders and never click on links or attachments within suspicious e-mails.If you feel you need to contact the supposed sender, contact them at a known phone number or website.
- If you established a watermark image with a secure site (such as online banking), ensure this image is evident before you provide your password or any other private information.
- Ensure your computer is kept secured and updated. Click here to find out how to protect your computer from compromise.