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Privacy & Data

Phishing: If You Suspect Deceit, Just Hit Delete!

Consumer Reports has released a new video, as part of their WebWatch project, with a song and good advice about phishing and Internet scams. I’m not sure that ‘if you suspect deceit, just hit delete!’ will ever catch on as a widespread slogan, but it’s certainly fun. What is phishing? Phishing is when scammers send out lots of email pretending to be from someone else- like your bank- hoping that you will give them your information. They’re ‘fishing’ for your personal information. Phishing is still a looming threat to consumers. One person in a hundred lost money to phishing scams last year, resulting in more than 2 billion dollars in damage. While that’s not going to bail out anyone in the financial sector, it’s still a lot of money that’s being lost. The incidence of phishing is still rising as other threats online fall, according to Consumer Reports’ 2008 State of the Net. Often, a consumer can’t tell whether an email is legitimate or part of a scam. That’s one reason why education in this area can be a huge boon to consumers, protecting their privacy and shielding them from identity theft. I’ll be forwarding this video on to people with questions about phishing, and why their new found friends in impoverished countries want to wire them large sums of money. Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to create a convincing phishing email; it’s often hard to tell which emails are really from your bank and which are scams. Here are a couple simple tips that will pay off immediately: type in URLs for links instead of clicking them and never giving anyone your password. More tips can be found at the FTC OnGuard Online website and at the Anti-Phishing Working Group.