As technology continues to advance, phishing scams are more prevalent than ever before. With everyone looking to simplify as much as possible, these scams are often disguised as a great way to make life easier or provide you with a quick and painless way to make a buck. Unfortunately, they often end up just the opposite, nothing but pain and hassle. If you end up a victim to one of these scams, the best-case scenario is the loss of a little money and time; in the worst scenario you can fall prey to complete identity theft which could haunt you and your loved ones for years.
The most common phishing scam out there is done through email. There are many varieties but they all contain a common theme. At some point in the email you will be asked to click on a link in order to verify information for a website that you currently use. These emails are disguised to look like they come from your bank or a website that you might use such as PayPal.
A variation of the standard email scam takes it one step further. In these emails there is often an attachment that you are requested to click on or download to your computer. This will install spyware or a virus without your knowledge. These malicious programs can monitor everything you do on your computer and record your keystrokes thus giving the scammer access to all of your logons and passwords.
During the holidays one of the most popular scams is a fake website. You might be directed to it through a banner ad or sent an email advertisement offering the hottest items at ridiculous prices that seem too good to be true. Unfortunately they usually are. The entire process from shopping to checking out is just to get access to your credit card information and can look entirely valid every step along the way.
One of the oldest scams around is the phishing phone call. In one scenario someone will call you claiming he or she is from your bank or other financial institution claiming to need updated information. Another scenario consists of the fake telemarketer looking to entice you with a limited-time offer or telling you that you have won a free gift or vacation.
One of the best ways to keep yourself safe is to trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially if you don’t know the source. Do your research and verify sources. Never give out your personal information to someone if you did not initiate the contact. If someone claims to be from a financial institution or charitable organization and is looking for money or information, decline to give them anything then call the company yourself and verify it is not a scam.
The unfortunate truth is that scammers are smart. They make a living deceiving people, tricking them out of their money or personal information. One of the best things you can is protect yourself before it happens. A company like LifeLock can do what you can’t. By monitoring your credit report and spending habits it will be able to quickly tell if someone has stolen your identity and is making fraudulent purchases. It can then immediately help you recover anything that may have been lost or stolen.
When it all comes down to it, the best thing you can do is to use common sense. When in doubt, don’t fall for it, especially if it seems too good to be true. Do your research to make sure that whatever you are doing is real and valid. By taking the extra step to check out a company, you can ensure that your identity stays safe and nothing interrupts your life or happiness.