What is Phishing?
"Phishing" is an attempt to get you to part with your personal banking, eBay, Paypal or other details by criminals wanting to steal your identity for nefarious purposes. Typical attempts are emails purporting to be from your bank, eBay or Paypal, asking you to sign in to confirm your personal details. You click on the link in the email that you have received (that in many cases looks like it could genuinely have been sent by the organisation in question) and are lead to a bogus website that appears to be that of the legitimate company. You submit your personal details to "log on", and then the criminals have your personal information that they can either use themselves or sell on. Phishing emails such as these requesting information are typically called "spoof emails".
How can I stay safe from Phishing?
Here are a few tips:
For further information, visit www.antiphishing.org
Identity Theft in General
You don't have to have a computer to become a victim of identity theft. A criminal will use any means of getting confidential information from you - the computer and internet are just one of their tools. Make sure that any paperwork that you discard that contains confidential information - eg bank statements, credit card and utility bills etc are shredded. ID thieves will search through dustbins to locate your personal details. You also need to be aware about giving out your details over the 'phone. If an organisation rings you up, purporting to be, for example, your credit card company, how do you ensure that they are who they claim to be before giving out your personal details? If you have any doubts, ring the organisation yourself using a known telephone number, eg the one on the back of your credit card, to avoid giving out your personal details to a scammer.
If you have a website or ever post personal details online, be wary about giving out the names of your pets, your date of birth, your national insurance number and definitely not your mother's maiden name. Many of these details are used in security checks and as passwords. If you have posted any of these details in an online CV, you should remove them.