One of the most common scams on the internet now is phishing. Phishing is the act of trying to obtain private information (such a password, credit card number, date of birth, social security number) while pretending to be a reputable entity.
This is often seen now in spam emails that come in, supposedly from your bank. The email looks official, and explains that something has changed on your bank account that needs your authorization. Perhaps it says you have changed your password, and now you just have to confirm it.
For a certain percentage of people the first reaction is, “Hey, I didn’t change anything…what’s going on here?” So they click the link that supposedly goes to the bank’s login page. Click the image below to see it full size.
If you have an online banking account at Bank of America, you will agree that this looks virtually identical to the genuine BOA website. The only thing is, when you click on that link in the middle of the page to sign on to your account, you will actually be entering your user name and password on the web page of the scammer. As soon as you do that, he has access to your bank account(s). It can happen very quickly; what’s worse, you may not even realize you have been duped for a while. This gives the thief time to clean out your account before you even know what is going on.
This same scam is done by using fraudulent websites that look like Paypal, or your eBay account, or any other popular finance-related site.
How do you avoid this? Remember this one thing: your bank, or any other reputable institution, will not send you an email asking you for your personally identifiable information. If you think you have actually received an email from your bank, don’t click on any links in the email. Just open up Firefox or IE and manually type in the bank’s web address. From there, you can safely log in to your account and see if there are any notifications that require action on your part.
The bad guys are working 24/7 to figure out new ways to deceive you and separate you from your money. Always be aware and verify everything.