Be careful of Internet scams while shopping online this holiday season.
As the holidays approach and more people are using the Internet to shop and to pay bills, it’s important to become familiar with a growing problem called “phishing.”
Phishing is a term used to describe the action of assuming the identity of a legitimate organization or Web site using forged e-mail or Web pages to convince consumers to share their user names, passwords and personal financial information for the purpose of using it to commit fraud.
Phishing quickly has grown into one of the most frequent and effective scams on the Internet. It works by directing users toward fake Web sites that trick them into giving up personal information. This procedure has included account verification, invalid credit/debit card details, attempted account hacking, prize draws and account suspension. Some victims have had their credit rating and financial livelihood destroyed when their identity has been used to raise capital, while others have seen their credit or debit cards used by imposters to buy goods online.
Experts recommend consumers protect themselves from phishing scams by entering Web site addresses into their browser (rather than clicking on provided links) and only calling numbers listed in the phone book, on bank-provided credit cards or statements.
You can avoid becoming a phishing scam victim by following these simple rules and watching for these signs:
One big problem is that phishing e-mail looks official and real. It appears to be from trusted banks, retailers or other companies. The e-mail often says the company needs to verify your information, such as account numbers or passwords, for supposed security purposes.
Phishing e-mail tries to fool you with an address spoof. In more than 90 percent of cases, the e-mail address looks like one from a real company. Here are some questions to help you recognize phishing e-mails and sites:
What to do if you’ve been scammed
if anyone applies for new accounts with your Social Security number, you can be notified at home. You should also always regularly monitor your credit reports, if you do not already.
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