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Friday, November 14, 2008

Recognize a Phishing Scam

Got an e-mail from a stranger asking for help or offering money? A strange notice from your bank? A pop-up window with a "too good to be true" offer? How do you know if you're being taken for a ride?

Step1
"Phishing" refers to internet, telephone and mail scams which are trying to steal your money or personal information: account numbers, passwords, etc. A good rule of thumb is NEVER ANSWER QUESTIONS, PROVIDE OR CONFIRM INFORMATION unless YOU initiated the contact: you dialed the phone, or you typed in the web address or e-mail address.
Step2
One type of e-mail scam involves a stranger who asks for your help to retrieve an inheritance or other large sum, and offers you a percentage. It usually comes from outside the country, and includes some kind of sob story to kindle your compassion. Here's an example: From: Helen Edward Tel:__225 07 59 8653 Introduction. PLEASE REPLY ME WITH THIS PRIVATE EMAIL _______helen45@yahoo.ca Dearest, I know that this mail may come to you as surprise ,I am Mrs Helen Edward the wife to Dr Joe Edward the former director general of Sierra-leone Gold and diamond corporation who was assasinated by the rebels loyal to Foday Sankoh the (R U F)leader. I managed to escape my country with my son Mack. It is my pleasure to contact you for a business venture which I and my Son (Mack)intend to establish in your country. Though I have not met with you before but I believe, one has to risk confiding in succeed sometimes in life. There is this huge amount of Fifteen million U.S dollars($15,000,000.00) which my late Husband kept for us with a Fiduciary Fund Holder in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire before he was assasinated by the Rebels in a one Metallic Trunk Box. Now I and my Son have decided to invest these money in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security and political reasons. We want you to help us claim and retrieve this box from the Fiduciary Fund Holders and transfer it into your personal account in your country for investment purposes on these areas: 1). Telecommunication 2). The Transport Industry 3). Five Star Hotel 4). Real Estate Now i want to ask you something; 1)Can i trust you? 2)Can you take me as your sister? If you can be of an assistance to us we will be pleased to offer to you 10% Of the total fund. I await your soonest response. Respectfully yours, Mrs Helen Edward PLEASE REPLY ME WITH THIS PRIVATE EMAIL ________helen45@yahoo.ca
Step3
These guys aren't screwing around. Once they establish contact with you via phone or e-mail, they'll string you along for awhile (sometimes weeks) before declaring a crisis and asking you to wire a "small" amount (usually several thousand), promising a large reward once they collect their sum. DO NOT RESPOND TO THESE E-MAILS! Report them to http://www.us-cert.gov/nav/report_phishing.html
Step4
Got a strange e-mail or letter from your bank, credit card or other financial institution, claiming problems with your account, or asking you to confirm information? NEVER CLICK ON LINKS OR CALL PHONE NUMBERS PROVIDED IN THESE E-MAILS OR LETTERS. The links will take you to the phisher's website or pop-up window instead of the real site (usually looks identical to the real site, with all the same graphics so it looks legit), where they will collect your account number or other sensitive information. The phone number will be answered by a very realistic sounding scam artist, not the bank. If you want to check with your bank to be sure, call them with the phone number printed on your checks or listed in the phone book. Your financial institution will NEVER ask you for account numbers, passwords or secure information in an e-mail. A legitimate company will never provide a link going to your account on their website (especially a page with a form to fill out). To go to your bank's website, type the web address into your browser (or search it on Google). Look for the page which discusses internet and e-mail fraud. They usually have a description of the latest scam, and an e-mail or phone number for reporting them.
Step5
E-mails from phishing scams will usually contain one of the following red flags: * Threats to close your account if you do not respond * A scare tactic, such as claiming that your account information has been stolen * A greeting like "Dear Valued Customer" instead of your real name * Asks you to verify your account or information * Asks you to "click on the link below" to enter your information or access your account
Step6
Got a call from your financial institution, claiming a problem, offering to sign you up for a new service, or asking you to confirm information? DO NOT PROVIDE OR CONFIRM ANY INFORMATION to the caller. Hang up, and then call the financial institution yourself, using the phone number printed on your checks, or listed in the phone book.

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