Gonphur Coughie, or just Gone Phishing?

     
   

No matter how cleverly we spell it, gone is gone, and if you’re not aware and alert, the latest Internet scam will have you gone, too… or at least some of your hard-earned cash!

     
   

“Phishing”, pronounced just like the word “fishing”, is the catchy name applied to the latest (and most dangerous) criminal practice on the Internet.

     
    Using email with carefully crafted electronic “stationery”, containing official logos, trademarks, and other indications that the message is genuine in origin, criminals are tempting Internet users into clicking on web links, which take them to a website purported to belong to their bank, credit company, or other financial institution.  Once they land on the fake website, users are asked to enter their personally identifiable information, such as Social Security Number, date of birth, banking account numbers, or credit card numbers, all to support some concocted “update of your accounts”, or some other, equally false premise.
     
    In this way, the fraudsters are able to obtain the critical bits of information needed to steal the identity or access the credit accounts of the hapless victim.
     
   

Watch your email carefully, and NEVER respond to any email request for passwords or any other unique, personally identifiable information.

     
   

Banks, credit card companies, and other secured transaction entities DO NOT request account information over the web, other than to refer you to a secured website for transactions.

     
    You can, by the way, tell if you’re on a secured website.  Your browser will display a little padlock on the bottom status bar of the browser window, and the address of the website, showing in the address bar at the top of the browser window, will reveal the protocol identifier: https://.  Most websites just show http:// and the website name, followed by the dot-com or dot-org domain identifier.  When you see the https:// designation, it means the website is secured, and the conversation taking place between your computer and that website is encrypted.  Encrypted means scrambled or coded, so that the conversation cannot be “eavesdropped” upon by nefarious listeners on the web.
     
   

Be careful out there, dear members, and if something doesn’t look quite right, then choose to err on the side of caution… give no personal information until you’re sure. 

     
   

Never click on links provided in an email, unless you’re positive of the origin of the email, and of the identity of the website to which the link will take you.

     
    And never, never make a purchase or provide credit information on a website that does not give positive indication that it’s secured!
     
    In this Holiday Season, when everyone’s purchasing those last-minute items and shopping on the Internet for holiday gifts, the “Phishing” pirates are lurking, ready to pounce on your wallet… be smart, and let ‘em know you’ve got bigger Phish to Phry!
   

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