Phishing is the fraudulent activity whereby someone tries to steal your valuable personal information by emailing you masquerading as a trustworthy entity. The personal information collated is then used by criminals for identity theft.
Phishing is a variation on the word fishing, implying that bait is issued to many in the hope that some will be tempted to bite.
Phishing scams are increasing in both number and sophistication.
Phishing emails often appear to come from a credible company you regularly do business with, your bank or building society for example or from your social networking site, such as YouTube or Facebook.
The emails often include official looking information and logos that have been taken directly from the legitimate web site.
Phishing emails, which are usually generic and not personalised, invariably either
- ask you to do something, such as verify your account
- say that if you don’t do something there will be an issue with your account, for example it will be closed
- say that you have won a great prize
and there is usually a great sense of urgency, implying that your response is urgently required.
Whatever the message though, the email is seeking to trick you in to providing your personal information, such as password, credit card or bank account details. Within the email there might be instruction to use a link provided to visit a web site (fraudulent) or to fill in a form within the email.
Credible organisations, like your bank, will never ask for this kind of information in an email.
Recent examples of phishing scams include emails with the following subject titles
- Abbey Online Banking Alert: We have blocked access to your accounts. Email purporting to be from Abbey
- Update your internet banking for effective usage. Email purporting to be from the Co-operative Bank
- Your Access has been Suspended. Email purporting to be from Egg Bank
If you receive an email requesting personal information then you should immediately consider that it is a phishing email. Don’t reply to such emails. Contact the merchant to seek clarification and raise their awareness.
You can also report suspicious phishing scam activity to Consumer Direct, by calling them on 08454 040506.