As you probably know, identity theft ranks as one of the fastest growing crimes. This is a crime that can be absolutely devastating to your personal financial situation. Understanding some of the latest methods can help you lower your chances of becoming an identity theft victim and finding yourself in the middle of a personal financial nightmare. One of the rising scams in identity theft is the use of "phishing."
Phishing is the practice of sending an email that looks "official" to someone. Usually quite a few someones at once. This email might look as though it comes from your bank, but it is more common for it look like a more widely known and respected company. Some of the common companies are EBay, Amazon and PayPal. These emails usually state that you are in danger of having an account closure, or some other alarming problem. (My favorite is when the email claims that your account is vulnerable to identity theft and you have to take action immediately.) Sometimes it is an offer of a "free gift." In any case, there is usually a link to a false Web site that looks authentic. You are then asked to provide personal information to "verify" who you are. The thieves have what they need to wreak financial havoc in your life.
Truly official emails
Chances are that you will receive official email communications from companies that you order items from, and even from your bank. However, legitimate companies never ask for entire chunks of personal information as "verification" or to "log in." Instead, the company asks for your last four digits, or a security code. A legit company should already have your entire account number, so it won´t usually ask for it. Additionally, most respected companies will not ask for personal information via email. When you log in as a regular course of action, the company will then ask for changes to account information (like changing your password, etc.). But rarely will it send out an email asking you to link to the site and input personal information.
Don´t get caught
If you have opted to receive credit card statements electronically, you will be asked to link to the account log in site. However, you will not be asked for specific personal information. If you are taken to a Web page where you have to put in information beyond your usual username and password, that´s a red flag. I like to just go to the Web site on my own, even with official emails, rather than link to the site from my email. If you receive an email containing alarming information, do not click on the link. If there is a real problem with an account, most companies actually call you, or alert you to it when you log in. Don´t rush into getting "free gifts" either. If your free gift requires that you include a credit card number or a Social Security number, that´s a tip off that you might be giving out information to identity thieves.