Quick Tip:
Danger Lurking in Email

This morning, I received this email:

"Thank you for your loan request, which we received yesterday. We'd like to inform you we are accepting your application. We are ready to give you a $272,000 loan (Approved refinance) for a low monthly payment. Approval process will take only 1 minute. Please visit the confirmation link below and fill out our short 30-second form."

Click on the link, and you could be sent to a porn site, a Viagra at $2-a-pill site … or just about anywhere.

This is far more than annoying. It's dangerous. This type of email is called "phishing."

It's dangerous, because if you click the link you could be sent to a website that loads tiny programs on your computer that do nasty things … like logging your keystrokes when you're typing in logins, passwords, or account numbers.

Some phishing emails can look exactly like a request from your bank, credit card company, utility company, etc., describing a problem and asking for your help.

You innocently click the link and are sent to a legitimate-looking website that asks for personal information – like your Social Security number, password, or even something as innocent as your middle name.

In a month, you're getting real notices from creditors. You're $20,000 in debt! Your identity has been stolen.

Here are three effective solutions:

  1. NEVER click email links from senders you're not sure of.
  2. Banks, credit card companies, etc. NEVER ask for passwords or other information in emails. If you get an email (or phone call) from one of these institutions, call your local branch for verification, not the phone number in the email.
  3. Buy software that protects against "malware" of all sorts. (Macs are NOT immune to phishing scams.)
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Published: May 28, 2007

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