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How to Protect Yourself from Phishing Websites

November 18, 2011 | Quick Tips | No Comments

Let’s face it, the majority of us conduct business on the Internet almost everyday.  From shopping, entertainment, banking, research, etc., we all use the Internet.  Unfortunately, there are always criminals in cyberspace trying to steel your identity that will ultimately affect your finances and credit score. To determine if your identity has been compromised it’s always a good idea to get a free credit score to review your credit information. 

One way cyber criminals can steal your identity online is by using a technique called “phishing” to steal your personal information such as username / passwords, credit card information, social security number, date of birth, etc.

Phishing websites are fake websites that look like real websites.  Most people visit phishing sites by clicking links in their email.  As an example, they may get an email that seems to be from their bank telling them they need to log into to fix a problem.  They click on the link in the email and it brings them to a fake website.  They unsuspectingly enter their username and password and instantly this information is sent to a criminal who can use it cause serious harm.

So how do you avoid ever visiting phishing website?  Fortunately, it’s not too hard to prevent visiting phishing websites, but you must always be alert whenever on the Internet.  For one, never visit websites such as your bank by clicking on links within an email.  You should always visit by your saved bookmark, major search engines or typing the address directly into your browser address bar.  Additionally, if you ever want to click on a link in an email, you can first view the real link address in your browser address bar.  For example, an email may contain a link stating www.bankofamerica.com; however, the link goes to wwwbankofamerica.steal.com.  Fortunately, the major browsers and anti-virus program can alert you whenever visiting a phishing website but they don’t always catch every phishing site.

Never give your personal information to anyone whenever visiting forums, using email, using public Wi-Fi or even instant messaging with friends or family.  This information is not secure and criminals can easily intercept your information.

Whenever your visit a website and have to enter personal information make sure the website is using encryption to transfer your information.  To determine if the website is secure with encryption, check for the closed lock icon in the browser address bar.  If no closed clock icon is available, the website isn’t secure and when you transfer information, your information can be intercepted by criminals.  See example below with green closed lock in Google Chrome browser address bar.

Finally, always use strong passwords using a combination of letter, numbers, symbols and different letter case.  Periodically, you may want to change your passwords especially for websites that are extremely important to you, such as your bank. 

Remember you can always get a freescore online to make certain your identity hasn’t been compromised.

 

 

 

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