Phishing scams are an attempt to trick you into divulging sensitive personal information that allows somebody to steal your identity or empty your bank account.
Don't be fooled by phishing. Be very skeptical if you receive an email that looks like it is from your bank, broker or other trusted company but asks you to verify or re-enter sensitive personal or financial information through email, a website it directs you to or a phone number it provides. It's quite likely a scam.
Look for these telltale signs to spot a phishing email.
- You don't know the sender.
- The email is illiterate.
- You're asked to provide information such as an account number, phone number or Social Security number.
- The email address is odd or doesn't include the business name. Legitimate businesses have their own domain names (such as AOL.com or Amazon.com).
- You are asked to click a link to respond or take an action. If you check the properties of the link by right-clicking it and choosing properties, you will find that the address is bismark.net, not Amazon.
- You are told that you must click the link and provide information to get access to your account.
- You are told not to reply to the email as it is an automated email and won't be answered. You are instead urged to log into your account (using the link they provide).
If you receive a phishing email, take these precautions:
- Instead of clicking the links in the email, use your favorite search engine to find the website for the company that sent the email or locate that information on your statement.
- Contact the institution using a phone number from a statement or type in a company website address in your browser to go to its site and ask about the communication.
- Report the scam to your email service provider.