Phishing and Identity Theft

A new way for thieves to steal individuals' identities has developed that that is through online phishing. By learning what ‘phishing' is and how to prevent it from happening, individuals can avoid losing money, spending time and resources trying to track down fraudulent purchases and much more. Here is some more information on phishing and identity theft.

What is Phishing?

‘Phishing' refers to attempts by scammers and thieves to retrieve personal information from individuals. Those scammers and thieves can use that information to steal identities, make fraudulent purchases and more. Typically, the scammer or thief will try to obtain this information by sending an e-mail to the victim.

What Does a Phishing Email Look Like?

The e-mail may look like an e-mail from a bank, an online payment service, an e-mail provider or another trusted company. The e-mail will usually contain a message which asks the recipient for personal information, such as:

  • Password
  • Bank Account Number
  • Social Security Number
  • Credit Card Number
  • Or something similar
If you think you are a victim of phishing and in need of legal assistance, consult with an attorney in your area to discuss the details of your case.

While some phishing attempts can immediately be recognized by poor grammar, many of them are very convincing. They may include the same graphics as well known companies and be written in the same style as normal business communications.

How to Spot a Phishing Attempt:

There are several warning signs of phishing, and by knowing them, individuals can protect themselves.

  • If you get an e-mail that looks legitimate and claims to be from a financial institution, your bank, your credit card company or another organization which asks for personal information, be wary. Most financial institutions will never e-mail you with questions about your personal details. If you get a message, delete it and call that institution personally to find out if the message was legitimate.
  • If you get an e-mail that looks poor, take a closer look. If you spot bad grammar, poor graphics that look like copies or something similar, delete it and contact that company personally.
  • If there is a link in the e-mail which is supposed to redirect you to the company, pay close attention. Does the link start with www.company'sname.com or is it unrecognizable? Don't click the link at all and either call or visit the company personally to inquire about the message.

If you are suspicious of any e-mail at all, do not reply to it and delete it right away. Individuals can personally contact the company or organization to determine whether they have attempted to contact them or not.

Reporting Phishing Attempts:

Because many individuals have become identity theft victims through phishing e-mails, most companies are developing or have developed anti-phishing processes to protect customers and clients. If you feel you have been a victim of a phishing attempt or identity theft, you should report it right away.

Not only will this help you protect yourself, but it will alert companies to the phishing attempts so they can better their anti-phishing processes and systems. If you get a phishing e-mail that claims to be from a particular company, forward the e-mail to the scam or anti-phishing department of the company.

Individuals can also contact the FBI and report computer-related or online crimes by visiting their website at www.fbi.gov. Phishing is dangerous and can leave you vulnerable to identity theft. By knowing how to prevent and fight it, you can better protect yourself.

If you think you are a victim of phishing and in need of legal assistance, consult with an attorney in your area to discuss the details of your case.