At some time or another, everyone’s received one: an innocent email claiming to be from a trusted website or company. Or you may stumble onto a website that at first glance seems legitimate. But there may be something about it that doesn’t quite ring true, such as peculiar wording (perhaps even misspelled words or bad grammar), or more glaringly, a request for private information such as credit card numbers. What you have found may very well be a scam known as “phishing,” an attempt to take hold of your personal information by tricking you into giving it to an unknown party or parties masquerading as a legal company. If you have received an email or found a website and are suspicious, what can you do?
The best course of action is to report your concerns to an organization that will investigate further. There are several such places on the Internet.
- One is the U.S. government-operated website http://www.us-cert.gov/nav/report_phishing.html. It provides information on where to send a copy of the email or the URL to the website so that they may be examined by experts. It also includes links with details on phishing scams and how to recognize them and protect yourself.
- Another website to report cyberspace scams is the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) located at: http://antiphishing.org/report-phishing/. Unlike the government-owned website, antiphishing.org features a text box in which to copy and paste the contents of the suspicious email you have received, including the header as well as the body of the message. Along the sidebar of the website, there are additional links of information to learn about phishing scams.
Phishing is a crime that has been plaguing users on the Internet for years. By reporting any suspicious contact to the proper organizations, you may have a part in helping to cut down on such unlawful activities in the future.
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