What is phishing?

Phishing is a method of fraud where criminals send seemingly legitimate emails requesting for sensitive personal and financial information from people. The email messages appear as if they have been sent by major banks or websites of major retailers.

What is the main purpose of phishing?

Phishing is done for the main purpose of stealing identities. These phishing emails normally redirect victims to fake websites. These sites closely resemble the legitimate websites of banks or major retailers so that people will be fooled into giving sensitive data like passwords and financial details.

Phishing emails will always ask you to click on a link that takes you to a site resembling a legitimate one wherein a page appears that requests for data. Legitimate companies or organizations would most probably never request such type of information by email.

If you make the mistake of submitting the information requested by these phishing emails, the scammer will get access to your accounts and you will become a victim of identity theft. They may transfer your money or shop using your account.

Phishing is associated with spam because thousands of emails are sent out at once. This is because the scammers are hoping a percentage of people who get these emails will eventually be fooled into providing their data. Most of the phishing emails often look like they have come from sites that you have never even used.

What are phishing signs?

Impostors can be very tricky to spot because they go to great lengths to make themselves appear like the genuine article. However, there are some signs that you can spot.

  • Requests for personal information those are unsolicited. Most organizations will never ask anyone to send their personal data over an email. If you receive a request for sensitive information in your email, call the company first to verify.
  • Warnings that are alarmist. Phishing emails will often attempt to get recipients to reply without thinking. Their emails convey a sense of extreme urgency. Things like "your account will be closed within 24 hours if you do not update your information."
  • Spot the mistakes. Phishing emails tend to have many mistakes that you can spot easily. They will contain typos or grammatical errors.
  • The addressee is never named. You will tend to get emails from phishers that start with "Dear Sir" or "Dear Customer."
  • Be wary of "verify your account." Legitimate organizations will never ask you for passwords, login names or other sensitive information through email. No matter how authentic the email may appear, be wary. Call the company first to verify. Never use the numbers on the email itself.
  • Never "click on the link below." Never click on any links sent by emails that you are suspicious of. The links may appear legitimate but the link will direct you to an impostor site.

The rule of thumb is to trust your instincts. If you feel an email is not genuine, it most probably is. If ever you get such emails requesting for any information that appears to come from your bank or favorite retailer, call them first and ask why they require such information by email.