What is Phishing and What You Need to Know

by : Stan Jenkins

If you're reading this article you've probably heard the term phishing and you may be wondering exactly what that is. That's exactly what this article is going to explain. I'm going to tell you what phishing is, what to look out for, and why it's important to be on the lookout for it and make sure it doesn't happen to you.

I'm going to give you an example of what phishing is by creating a scenario that people run into everyday. You're at home, you turn on the computer and decided to check some e-mails. You're going through your messages one by one and you come across a message from your bank that says "there has been fraudulent activity with your account. Please login to update your account information." You click on a link in the e-mail to go to your bank's website, you fill out all the required information name, address, phone number, bank account number, Social Security number, password etc. then you hit submit and think to yourself I wonder what kind of fraudulent activity they were talking about I hope it's all taken care of now.

If the above scenario happened to you your problems would not be taken care of in fact they would just be starting because the above scenario is an example of one type of phishing scam. The official looking e-mail that you received is from a con artist and the link that you clicked in the e-mail took you to a cloned page of your bank's website. The website may look just like your bank's website but was put there by a con artist to capture all of that sensitive personal information that you just entered.

With all of that information, your bank account number, passwords, Social Security number etc. this criminal can do all sorts of things that will make your life miserable. They can drain your bank account, they can take out loans or open lines of credit in your name and run up huge bills that will never be paid. If they get information like a Social Security number or driver's license number a criminal can assume your identity, go on a crime spree, and any paper trail created in the commission of these crimes will lead to you because they are doing everything in your name.

To prevent this type of thing from ever happening to you, the first big clue you should pick up on is a bank or any other organization asking you to click a link in an e-mail that takes you to a page to update personal information. If a bank or other organization needs you to update information they would have you go to their website by typing the URL directly into your Internet browser bar and then logging onto their site with your username and password. They would never have you click a link that takes you to a page that asks you to fill out this type of sensitive information.

This type of phishing scam is all too common and happens to unsuspecting people every day. These criminals will either use your information as described above or they may even sell it to other criminals to use for any number of various crimes. Phishing is just one way that these crooks can gather your information and steal your identity. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America and the best way to fight this crime is to prevent it from ever happening to you in the first place. Learning to spot a phishing scam will help but it's a good idea to learn more ways to prevent identity theft from happening to you.