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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Gone Phishin' Too /   Editorial List  

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Gone Phishin' Too

Phishing

(fishīing) (n.)

 

The act of sending an e-mail to a user, falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.

Recently, someone close to me (who shall remain nameless) called to let me know that she (oops, guess that was a clue) was scammed by an organization purporting to be AOL. The saving grace is that she (oops, again) realized what was happening when they asked for her credit card information.

Phishing e-mails direct the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, Social Security and bank account numbers that the legitimate organization already has. These Web sites, however, are bogus and set up only to steal the userís information.  Be aware that these dastardly attacks can happen online, through the mail or (more than ever) even by telephone.

I have been getting a lot of mail lately from well-known organizations (e.g., AOL, PayPal, eBay, or a credit card issuer) telling me that I must send them my personal information immediately or dire consequences will ensue.  The only problem with that is I am not a client of many of these organizations.  This is what is known as phishing, a scam designed to part you from your hard-earned money and coveted credit.

And Iím not alone in receiving these messages. According to the RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center, phishing attacks in July increased 14 percent from June, marking yet another high of 59,406 attacks in a single month.  Phishing is also one of the very last things we should have to worry about as caregivers. Of course, as in every scam, the best defense is to become an educated consumer.  The following information is presented by the Federal Trade Commission and will help you from taking the bait from these scurrilous phishing fiends:

  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies donít ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the companyís correct Web address. In any case, donít cut and paste the link in the message.

 

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