Many of these phishing emails look very legitimate, but they aren't

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Phishing and Identity Theft - What is Phishing?
3 years ago
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There are many crimes that internet users need to stay aware of, but the problem of phishing and identity theft are among the most dangerous, and the most important for consumers to be aware of.

The problems of phishing and internet theft are actually interrelated, since phishing schemes are often used to commit identity fraud. Phishing involves the sending of unsolicited email that is designed to look like it comes from a legitimate source, such as an online auction company, a bank, a brokerage firm or other such institution.

Many of these emails look very legitimate indeed, and it can be difficult even for managers of the company being targeted to tell whether or not the email is legitimate. In addition, these emails may warn of dire consequences, such as the cancellation of an important account, or the loss of certain privileges, if the recipient fails to take the required action.

These phishing emails, of course, are designed to trick the recipients into providing personal information, which can in turn be used by identity thieves to capture personal information, such as Social Security numbers, account numbers and passwords.

Most of these phishing emails will contain a link which appears to link back to the website of the auction company, bank, brokerage firm or other business that is the target of the identity theft scheme. When the user clicks on the link embedded within the email message, he or she is prompted to enter personal information, such as their password, account number, mother?ôs maiden name, Social Security number, etc.

What these victims of identity theft do not realize, of course, is that the website is actually run by a hacker or other criminal, and that each keystroke entered is being logged and sent to the scammer. The personal information that is captured is in turn used by identity thieves to open unauthorized accounts, take out loans and otherwise wreak financial havoc on the victim.

One of the most insidious things about identity theft is that often the victim does not even know he or she has been victimized until long after the damage has been done. Unlike traditional credit card fraud, which is often caught as soon as the next credit card statement is received, often the damage done by identity thieves is not caught until months later, after a number of unauthorized accounts have already been opened and the victim?ôs credit rating has already suffered a great deal of damage.

That is why one of the best ways consumers can protect themselves from identity theft is to review their own credit report on a regular basis. This regular review of the credit report can help victims mitigate the damage done by any identity theft, in addition to helping spot any attempts and nip them in the bud.

The problem of identity theft is likely to be with us for quite some time, so it is up to every consumer to take the steps necessary to protect themselves from this problem. A combination of knowledge, hard work and common sense are needed to keep yourself and your valuable information safe.
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