How to Protect Yourself from Phishing

Phishing, which is a deceitful practice used by scammers to try to obtain your personal financial information, is an increasingly common problem. As a Paypal customer, I have received at least five phishing emails in the past year.  These emails claim to be from Paypal and typically will state that there is a problem with my account. They go on to say that I should click on the link inside the email to be directed to their website where I can confirm my account my entering my account number and password. While these emails and the website they direct me to may look authentic, they are not. In reality, they are from a scammer who is hoping I will be foolish enough to provide my information to them so they can access my bank or credit card account and abscond (that means get away).

Financial institutions and credit card companies are taking the phishing problem very seriously, as they well should.  JP Morgan Chase was recently hit hard with yet another phishing scam, with literally thousands of customers receiving emails stating their account would be closed or they would lose their online access if they did not “verify” there information by clicking on the link inside the email and providing pertinent account information. Some even went so far as to say that this procedure was being done in order to prevent identity theft!

To keep yourself safe, it is important for you to know that banks would never send an email that requires you to provide your sensitive information online. If you do receive an email from the bank stating that there is a problem with your account, contact the bank directly rather than clicking on a link inside the email. You can even visit your online account, just be sure to open up a fresh web page and enter the address of the financial institution directly. This way, you can access your account and find out if there are any problems with it.

Phishing has become such a problem that nearly all financial institutions have an email account set up specifically for reporting this sort of abuse. After the financial institution investigates the site, it will work toward having it shut down completely so these “copy cats” cannot take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Often, the email address is abuse @, but you should check with your institution directly to find out where you should send the suspicious email.