Phishing – Don’t get caught

Last year the major financial institutions lost billions refunding customers who had suffered financial loss after being tricked into giving out their bank account details to online thieves by using a method known ‘phishing’.I thought that it might be an idea for me to concentrate this week on what to look out for when trying to identify a fraudulent e-mail although most of them are so obvious that you shouldn’t need too much help identifying them.

I also wanted to publish this guide as without meaning to sound harsh I honestly don’t think that these customers should be reimbursed by their banks when they are tricked because at the end of the day it will be costing customers such as myself - It isn’t the fault of the financial institutions that you were silly enough to give a fraudster all your bank account details so surely they shouldn’t take it upon themselves to pass the costs on to their other more alert customers.I personally think that there should be more education on the matter to stop people from making these mistakes in the first place and that before you sign up for an Internet Banking service that you agree to their terms and conditions that insist that you will show due diligence.

The majority of ‘phishing’ e-mails will appear to be sent from a particular company and will usually say that they require you to confirm some account information and will provide you with a hyperlink to click on.When you click on this link you are taken to a spoof site that will have been made to look like the website of the company that the e-mail claimed to have been sent from.You then merrily fill out all of your security details as requested by the e-mail which the website will then pass along to the fraudster who will then raid your account.I find it quite concerning that this money could then be used to invest in further illegal activities.

There are several rules that you can use to protect yourself against phishing:

-Treat all e-mail’s with a reasonable degree of suspicion; the senders address can be forged and the e-mail header can be manipulated to disguise its true origin.

-Rather than using the link provided in the e-mail to get to the page they’re requesting type the URL directly into your browser.Rather than clicking on a link in an e-mail claiming to be from Barclays for example you should just open your browser and type into the address bar.

-Never send personal or financial information to any one via email

-Regularly log into your online accounts to check for any fraudulent activity and scrutinise your statements to ensure all transactions are legitimate.

-Do continually update your Operating System, ensure that you have installed up-to date anti-virus software, Spyware software and a firewall and make sure you regularly use this software to run a check on your system.

If someone came up to you in the street dressed as a banker and asked you to confirm all your bank account details you obviously wouldn’t do it - It’s amazing how far a little common sense in this world can get you but unfortunately with many users this common sense goes straight out the window as soon as they sit in front of a computer!The Internet is technically one of the most secure areas to conduct financial transactions but the human factor often lets it down – Follow the points above and you can be sure that you’ll be kept safe.

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.