We guarantee you that someone is fishing for you. And you! And you! And Eightball! And TC! Yep! It’s true, someone, somewhere has got a line in the water right now, and at the end of that line is a big hook with a piece of juicy bait on it. They’re just waiting for one of us to take the bait. But wait, before you bite, read this!
Phishing scams work by tricking you into clicking a link in an email (the bait) to visit a site on the Web (the hook). The user is usually enticed with not-so-nice pictures or movies, free stuff, urgent messages pretending to be from your “bank” or “credit card company” telling you that your account has had “suspicious activity” and that you need to change your password, etc. right away.
Rule #1. The Only Rule You’ll Ever Need To Know!
The best way to avoid ending up in some scumbag’s creel is to remember one simple rule: NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER click any links in emails that appear to come from your bank or other financial institution. NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER click a link in an email that appears to come from any institution that has your personal information on file (social security number, credit card number, address, phone, birth date, etc.). If you think the email really came from your bank or financial institution, don’t click any links in that email. Instead open a NEW browser window and type the Web address of your bank or financial institution directly in the browser’s address bar. If you follow these rules you don’t need to read any further. You’ll never end up flopping around in some criminal’s boat, with your identity stolen, your bank account cleaned out, and your entire life turned upside down.
You’re The Curious Type, Eh?
So now you ask, just out of curiosity, of course, how you can tell if the link in the email really leads to where it appears. It’s easy. But first let us show you how easy it is to disguise a link. This link apparently leads to Microsoft http://www.microsoft.com/ . Well, click that link, it won’t hurt you, we promise. Where did it lead you to? Was it Microsoft? Do NOT be fooled by this trick. Anyone can do it. We could show you how to do it in 30 seconds even if you have no knowledge of links or Web pages at all. Criminals don’t need to be very smart if their victims are not very smart either.
But let’s just say, that you’re the curious type. And you are aware that the mail that appears to have come from your bank is probably a phishing scam. But, hey, you’re the curious one so you want to know where the criminal that tried to phish you wants you to go when you click that link. So, how do you know where that link leads to without clicking it? Here’s how. Right-click that link and choose “Copy Shortcut”. Now, open Notepad (Press the Windows Key + R – this opens the Run Dialog – and type in Notepad.exe) or just create a new email message and right click on the blank page and choose “paste”. This shows you where the link really leads to. This is a simple example but it can save you a lot of grief. Plus you’ll be learning the secrets of phishing. And the more you know; the more educated you are, the less chance you have of being tricked by a very sophisticated spammer. Of course, if you follow our #1 rule, you’ll never have to worry about, but, you know, we know human nature is be curious. Needless to say, curiosity kills many cats.
Tip: Another way to verify links in email with out clicking is to click “View” on the toolbar and make sure “Status bar” is checked. Then you can simply hover over the link and it will show the true link destination at the very bottom left of the email window. Try it on this link: http://www.microsoft.com/.
More Stupid Things Phishers Do
Another dead giveaway: You get a letter from Citibank that is addressed to “Dear Valued Citibank Customer”, asks you to verify your “account information” and tells you to click a link to login to your account, NEVER click the link in that email. DID WE TELL YOU – NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER click a link in an email from any financial institution, bank, credit card company, or other institution that has your personal information? We did? OK, just making sure! 🙂
If you have reason to check your account, open your browser and type http://www.citibank.com and login to your account. Email coming from Citibank, PayPal, credit card companies, other financial companies or institutions that possess your personal information, never send emails addressed to “Dear Valued Customer”, Dear “whatever the bank name is” Customer; indeed, they always send personal email addressed to the name on your account. You’ll never see a valid email which asks for sensitive information come to you addressed as: “Dear Valued Citibank Customer” or “Dear Wells Fargo Customer” it will always be addressed personally, such as: Dear Glenn Jones. A bank or financial institution will NEVER send and email which asks for personal information or for you to click a link and enter or update your personal information.
Refer To Rule #1
But, if you follow our #1 rule – Never, Ever, Never, Ever click a link in an email from a bank, financial institution or any company that possesses your personal information – then you’ll never have anything to worry about will you. If you are not sure if you need to change or update your account information with any credit card company, financial institution, bank or any other company with which you have an account and therefore possesses your personal and sensitive information, It will take you less than a minute to open a new browser window and type in the Web address of that particular company. One minute can save you a lifetime of grief. One click in phishing email can wipe out an entire lifetime of savings and other bad things.
We can guarantee you that someone is out there phishing for you right now. You’re smarter than the criminals. So, don’t be a phish. You don’t want to go to this kind of phish phry do you?