The internet is the biggest community on the planet. The online community can easily cross international boundaries. This means that people all around the world can participate in the same global meeting place.
While this is a good thing, there are also some major disadvantages with the size of the internet. The internet is huge and this means that it's impossible to effectively police everything. There are plenty of unsavory people on the internet who are out to profit from your ignorance.
Consider this post a PSA to pay a little more attention when surfing the internet, and to think before you Click on that Link.
There are lots of examples of cybercrime - perhaps one of the most prevalent is Phishing. But what is phishing and how can it affect your computer?
Phishing is simply where scammers try to trick you into giving them your personal details. These normally involve bank account or credit card numbers. The scams typically work by you receiving an email asking you to click a link to confirm some details.
You will however be directed to a fake bank website which has nothing to do with your bank. Building a website is very simple. This means that it's relatively easy for these scammers to build an exact replica of your banks website. Unlike your bank's website, however, it passes the information straight back to the scammer.
If you actually fall for one of these phishing scams then it could result in your identity being stolen. Identity theft is an ever increasing crime which you need to be wary of. Identity theft could end up costing you thousands of dollars which is why it's essential you learn how to protect yourself.
Look at this example of a Bank of America phishing scam, this message would normally be accompanied by a link for you to click, leading to a fake site:
Dear Bank of America customer, Security and confidentiality are at the heart of the Bank of America. Your details (and your money) is protected by a number of technologies, including Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. We would like to notify you that Bank of America carries out customer details confirmation procedure that is compulsory for all our customers. This procedure is attributed to a routine banking software update.
How To Avoid Phishing Scams
The internet can be very deceptive since it is possible to make websites appear valid when they are developed specifically for phishing scams. Take a look at the URL in the address bar after clicking on links that you are required to login to. If you aren't familiar with the web address, do not log in. The BofA.com website example is one of the more common, simply because of the shear number of clients BofA has.
You need to learn how to be able to detect fake bank websites so that you can protect yourself from these phishing scams. This will help you to protect your identity and ensure that you retain control of your bank account.
If you receive any emails from your bank then you should ignore them. If your bank really needs to verify any of your details then they will typically write to you or ask you to book an appointment.
The scammers also don't know which bank accounts you hold. This means that they will be sending the same message to lots of people. If you receive any messages from banks that you don't hold an account with then you can be sure that this is certainly a scam.
If you're not sure whether an email is real then you can check it by phoning the bank. If it is genuine then they will be able to help you and tell you what to do. You should never click on any of the links in emails; these may be secretly redirecting you somewhere else.