This type of phishing doesn’t involve a good salmon steak or fresh flounder fillets. It is actually a scheme that involves fraudulent e-mails that try to get you to give out your personal information. These days, many of those e-mails are about forclosures and other concerns about mortgages and refinancing. The crooks who trade in identity theft send you e-mails that use the names and logos of real companies to make you think they are coming from a place you know or already do business with. They are pretty good at making the e-mails look similar to the ones you are used to receiving from, say, your bank. But if you look carefully, you can detect the fraudulent e-mails. Those of us in the 55+ age group are often surprised by the many ways crooks try to take advantage of us. We were brought up on honesty and fair dealing and it is disappointing that our trust can be used to harm us.
But it really isn’t difficult to learn how to detect and avoid types of scams like phishing. An easy first step in detecting a phony e-mail is to take a look at the address line of the e-mail. Keep a record of the real e-mail addresses of places like your bank to compare. The other thing you can do is to take a minute and think about the content of any e-mail you receive from a business, especially when the e-mail requests a response from you or requests information from you. For example, why would your bank ask you to give them any of your personal information – they already have it! If you are even a little uncertain, just call the company and ask them about the e-mail you received. They won’t mind answering your questions, because they are also working hard to stop phishing. Another thing to remember is don’t respond or click on links in e-mails you are suspicious of. Again, try calling the company they claim to be.
Finally, you might be tempted to think that all of our amazing technology might no be so wonderful if it makes these scams much easier for the crooks. But, the technology is also on your side. There are tools that can help protect you and your computer. And I found an organization that is working hard to stop fraud and to protect you. Check out the Anti-Phishing Working Group. They have many more suggestions for protecting you and your information. I hope you notice that I am not giving you the link here since you can type the name into your browser’s search to find them. That way you are sure you are not being linked to a phony site!