There it was - an email, warning me that my ebay account would be suspended unless I clicked on a link and updated my account information within 48 hours. It seemed simple enough, except I didnít have an ebay account connected to that email. Someone was phishing for my personal information. Instead of clicking the link included in the email, I clicked the delete button.
Legitimate companies have made it part of their business to get as much personal information as they can from their clients. Information is valuable as a marketing tool and as a commodity that can be sold to other companies.
Many retail stores attempt to compile mailing lists by casually asking for a phone number, address or other information during checkout. It didnít take long for those out to steal your identity and your money to realize that now that consumers have become accustomed to giving out personal information without question, all they had to do was ask for it. The easiest way was to simply send an email requesting or ďphishingĒ for information.
You should always be suspicious of any email asking for personal information, passwords, account numbers or a social security number. Many phishing emails will use a generic salutation such as ďDear eBay MemberĒ or ďDear youremailaddress@_____.com.Ē The phishers donít know who you are, but companies that you have a relationship with should know your name and use it in the salutation.
They hope you will be so upset that your bank account might be frozen or your ebay account suspended that youíll panic and instantly provide the requested information. If you receive an email requesting that you click on a link and log into an account to update your information, donít do it. No reputable company will ever ask you to update or verify personal information via email.
DonĎt automatically trust links in emails to take you to a website.The link included in the email may look legitimate, but itís very easy to mask an URL. If you bookmarked the site on a previous visit then use your bookmark or type the website address directly into your browser to navigate to the website
If you have concerns, then phone the company in question. Almost every company has published customer service phone numbers. Call the customer service number listed on the back of your credit card, on your bank statement or lookup the company contact information on their official website. DO NOT call any phone numbers included in the email.
Help fight phishing by forwarding the email to the company in question and to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more tips on protecting yourself from phishing vist the following web sites:
The Anti-Phishing Working Group