Ordinary old spam is invasive enough, but nothing says “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” quite like someone trying to steal your identity. Phishing is a favorite of identity thieves, who try to obtain personal information under false pretenses. It takes place when you receive an email or popup screen that claims to be from a legitimate source but is in reality “fishing” for identifying information. If you have an email account, you’ve certainly received a phishing message.
For example, it may be a message from your bank asking you to contact them to verify account details. The message will usually include a link to an imitation web site where you will be asked to enter personal information that allows the thieves to access your accounts and money. Here, phishy, phishy. Sometimes these phishing messages are easy to spot (especially when they’re from banks you’ve never heard of), but other times they can look very much like the real thing.
If they can’t get your attention by scaring you, they might appeal to your greed. A phishing email sent to Dallas residents informed them they were eligible for a tax rebate. The email directed them to a fake web site where they were asked to provide Social Security numbers and other personal details. The good news is that phishing is pretty easy to avoid by simply ignoring the bait. Be the one that got away.