I got an email the other day from the company that hosts this blog site for me. I’ve been with this company for nearly 10 years and am very familiar with the look and feel of their emails, website, etc.
What did the email say? It was notifying me that a couple of my URL’s were expiring and that my payment information needed to be updated. It was ever so helpful in that it had all the links directly in the email and being the good customer that I am, I clicked on the link that let me open my account and it went directly to the credit information…Yay…I like easy peasy! YIKES! What is this? My credit card info is not outdated and my URL’s are setup to auto-renew. So I called them (as I pretty much have them on speed dial) and was informed that this was a “Phishing” email and that they have had a lot of clients report this as well. Holy Moly…are you kidding me? It all looked so legit and believe me I was just about to input another credit card because I was feeling too lazy to get up and get my credit card that I keep locked up (If you are not using them, it’s best to keep them safe).
What is phishing?
It’s an Internet piracy. It’s pronounced “fishing,” and that’s exactly what these thieves are doing: “fishing” for your personal financial information. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards. In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver’s licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.
Here’s how phishing works:
In a typical case, you’ll receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the e-mail may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.
The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.” The e-mail will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution’s Web site.
In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony Web site that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual Web site. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information. (This is what showed up for me). In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.
If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.
How to protect yourself :
Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. E-mails and Internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the financial institution yourself.
You can find phone numbers and Web sites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look the company up on the Internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
- Depending on your learning style (Read the blog on Learning Modalities) you will want to create a reminder to yourself near your computer to remind you to take caution. For me being a “Visual” person, I post a note on my screen.
- Make it an effort to get to your credit cards and personal information so that you think twice before going through the process.
- With any financial information, you initiate the process or contact the company directly.
In this world of smart phones, laptops and wi-fi’s, we need to take caution with our financial information. The FES Protection Plan monitors and alerts you quickly along with having identity theft protection just in case it does happen to you.
As always, if you have errors on your credit reports or items that do not belong to you and you are not having success getting them removed, please take action and contact me for help.
For questions or additional resources, please contact me at Info@CreditGal.CO