Don’t Get Caught In A Phishing Net

Fred Joseph - Fraud IssuesFishing as an occupation has existed thousands of years. Fish was a primary source of food for the ancient Egyptians. In the Bible, it is noted that of the 12 Apostles called by Christ, four were fisherman. Even today, fishing is an important part of many countries’ economies. Although it is considered to be one of the most dangerous occupations (if not the most dangerous), there are still over 30 million fishermen worldwide.

There is another kind of fishing that is equally dangerous. However, this type is spelled “phishing” and is hazardous to one’s financial health. In the simplest terms, phishing is a ploy used by scammers whereby they send legitimate-looking emails in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. It is online identity theft. According to Microsoft, phishing email messages, websites, and phone calls are designed to steal money. Cybercriminals do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information from your computer. Cybercriminals also try to convince individuals to hand over personal information under false pretenses. They might email you, call you on the phone, or convince you to download something off a website.

According to an Investor Alert issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), phishing scams typically involve emails that falsely claim to be from brokerage firms, banks, credit card companies, internet auction sites, electronic payment services or some other service that you use. In other instances, the emails purport to be from government agencies. To appear genuine, the emails may use the names of real people, legitimate-looking addresses, authentic-looking logos, and links to pages of a bona fide website.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from online identity theft:

  • Beware of any email requesting personal information.
  • Leave suspicious websites.
  • Keep your personal and financial information secure online. Use anti-virus software and spyware detection software and be sure to update this software regularly.
  • Know who you are doing business with.
  • Check your credit report each year.
  • Review your account statements. This is your last line of defense.
  • Act quickly if you believe that you have been scammed.

More detailed information can be found in the FINRA Investor Alert at http://www.finra.org/Investors/ProtectYourself/InvestorAlerts/FraudsAndScams/P315931 .

(Fred Joseph can be contacted at fred.joseph@state.co.us or at 303-894-2320).

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