“Phishing” – How to protect yourself.

Ads, ads, ads – the Internet is full of them!

Whether companies are vying for your attention through a flash sale or a targeted Facebook ad, digital advertising has taken the Internet by storm. Digital advertising has become more powerful than advertising because we consider it information rather than marketing.

But with every innovation, comes a dark side.

We’ve all seen the “WIN A FREE iPad” ad, but how many of those ads are actually real? And how many of those ads are a product of “Phishing”.

Phishing scams are typically fraudulent emails or ads appearing to come from legitimate enterprises. Once clicked, the ad is designed to direct you to a fake website to try and get you to enter personal information. If successful, the private information is usually used to charge your accounts for fraudulent payments, commit identity theft or worse, sold on the Black Market.

“Typically, people will use different means to present themselves as a source everyone knows. They use legitimate websites, logos and make every attempt for you to login with your personal information,” says Carlos Alcantar, Chief Technology Officer of Race Communications.

So think of it like this. You get an email or you see an ad from a notable establishment. The ad may state you’ve won a prize and that you must follow the link provided to redeem it. When you click the link or follow the ad, you have to enter your personal information to retrieve it. Don’t. Stop right there.

Once you enter your information, it becomes very hard, if not impossible, to retract.

We saw an example of phishing just last week, when hackers created a Google Doc phishing scam that affected millions of Gmail inboxes.  So what can you do to protect yourself?

“Never click on things that are suspicious,” says Alcantar. “If your gut tells you something isn’t right, listen to it.”

  • If you suspect something is a scam, go directly to the site and check for the promotion on the site. If it is legitimate, enter your information from there.
  • Never use links in an email to connect to a website unless you are absolutely sure they are authentic.
  • Always communicate personal information over the phone or through a secure website. (you can identify a secure site if https:// precedes the website address,
  • Never use email to share personal information such as credit card information or social security numbers. Even if you know the recipient of the email, unauthorized users maybe able to gain access to you or the recipient’s account.
  • If possible, avoid using your email on public computers. Information from an email is temporarily stored on a computer’s local disk and can be retrieved by another user if it is not deleted properly.
  • Do not click any buttons or links in pop-up windows. If your browser has a pop-up blocker, make sure it is enabled at all times. Don’t have a pop-up blocker? Get one!
  • Check your credit report and financial records regularly. This may not seem directly related, but checking your accounts for fraudulent activity will help you identify any changes immediately.

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