What is phishing?
Phishing is a fraudulent attempt, usually made through email, to steal your
personal information. The best way to protect yourself from phishing is to
learn how to recognize a phish.
Phishing emails usually appear to come from a well-known organization and ask
for your personal information — such as credit card number, social security
number, account number or password. Often times phishing attempts appear to
come from sites, services and companies with which you do not even have an
In order for Internet criminals to successfully "phish" your personal
information, they must get you to go from an email to a website. Phishing
emails will almost always tell you to click a link that takes you to a site
where your personal information is requested. Legitimate organizations would
never request this information of you via email.
What to look for in a phishing email
- Generic greeting. Phishing emails are usually sent in large batches. To
save time, Internet criminals use generic names like "First Generic Bank
Customer" so they don't have to type all recipients' names out and send emails
one-by-one. If you don't see your name, be suspicious.
- Forged link. Even if a link has a name you recognize somewhere in it, it
doesn't mean it links to the real organization. Roll your mouse over the link
and see if it matches what appears in the email. If there is a discrepency,
don't click on the link. Also, websites where it is safe to enter personal
information begin with "https" — the "s" stands for secure. If you don't see
"https" do not proceed.
- Requests personal information. The point of sending phishing email is to
trick you into providing your personal information. If you receive an email
requesting your personal information, it is probably a phishing attempt.
- Sense of urgency. Internet criminals want you to provide your personal
information now. They do this by making you think something has happened that
requires you to act fast. The faster they get your information, the faster they
can move on to another victim.