At some point when using the internet and email, a user will hear about something called “phishing”. While it may not sound bad – and may in fact sound like something meant for fun if the user enjoys outdoor sports – in truth, phishing can be a serious problem that could result in a major financial loss.
Phishing happens when an email is sent out appearing to be from a legitimate contact. It may say it is from a bank, credit card company or some other site that would require sensitive information to access. The email will instruct the user to click a link directly to perform a function, such as preventing the closing of an account. Some will even go so far as to say that there has been a security breech already on an account, and the user needs to go there immediately to fix the problem.
Once the user clicks on the link in the email, they will be taken to a site that looks very much like the legitimate site. There may even be a redirect to the legitimate site, with a popup that comes over requesting the usernames and passwords. The user believes that it is the real site, and logs in – which has then just exposed all of their sensitive information.
In order to protect themselves, users need to be diligent in checking links in emails. When a link is hovered over without being clicked on, it will normally show the true address in the bottom corner of the email client. Some addresses can be very similar, with even just one letter different to confuse people. That is why it is never a good idea to click on a link directly in an email.
If the user is concerned about a problem, they can connect to the internet and type the legitimate web address into the browser. They can log in as they normally would and check if there is a problem. That is seldom the case.
Being careful with emails can prevent identity theft and save the user from potential financial loss.