Protect Yourself Against Phishing - Know the Dangers and Consequences
written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 8/16/2016
Any active Internet user should not only know, but understand the dangers and risks that phishing scams pose. It's a growing problem as more businesses move online, but some people still don't understand the threat.
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What is Phishing?
What is phishing? In general, it is the act of a computer user receiving an email or a link within an email that suspiciously looks like something an official or reputable organization would send. The emails and links are just frauds.
These emails are usually in the form of telling the receiver that something is happening with the company or has happened that requires the user to send confidential information, such as their account number, user name, password or social security number. In the case that a website link is enclosed within the email, the hope is that the user will click on it and think that they're just signing into their real online account. Once either one of these events happens, the hacker has the information that they need in order to compromise a user's account or personal information.
But what happens when a hacker gets this information? Think of phishing as someone stealing a person's wallet or purse, and then using their credit cards to ring up purchases, only through the Internet. Being online unfortunately means that there are more ways to utilize the information though. For instance, a hacker can sign in to a banking institute as the person whose information they have stolen and transfer money out of the account.
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What Being a Victim Means
The ultimate danger of this is the possibility of identity theft, which is the act of pretending to be someone else in order to make financial purchases illegally. According to the Federal Trade Commission, nearly nine million Americans are victims of identity theft each year, allowing thieves to open new credit card accounts, new utility accounts and even perform numerous types of other fraudulent activities that are traced back to you and not them.
Victims of phishing scams have a hard time trying to bounce back after they have been scammed. Some victims face financial ruin, as their credit cards have been maxed out or they have cards taken out under their name. Worse, their credit rating takes a hit because of it. It may take a long time for people to reverse or pay for charges that occurred while they were a victim. Victims may also face embarrassment from being scammed in the first place. It is also possible that their personal and their professional lives take a plunge, as a victim goes through the stress of proving that they have indeed been a victim of a scam.
If you feel you have been a victim of a phishing scam, it is important to notify all the important financial institutions, such as your bank and the three credit reporting firms. For more information, check the link provided below to the FTC website.