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Staying Safe from Phishing

Your brave anti-spam software works hard to defend your inbox from all those messages about enlarging. um. various things.

Even more important, your spam buster also helps protect you from less-embarrassing --but more dangerous-- phishing scam emails. But not entirely safe. Just in case a big bad phishing scam does get through to your inbox, its important to know how to spot it.

1. Do they handle your money? Then they wont ask for your info.

The companies that deal with your money can be counted on for a lot of things.

Making mistakes on your monthly statement. Talking robotically on the telephone (even if theyre human). Sending you advertisements you dont want. But one thing they cant be counted on to do --because they never do it-- is ask for your account information in an email. No company that deals in your finances will ask for your info via email.

Ever. Not the bank, not the IRS, and not Paypal.


Check that the senders email address matches the companys URL.

Whenever you receive an email from a secure financial organization, such as your bank or the ever-friendly IRS, be sure to check the email over carefully. Is the name of the organization misspelled in the email address, or not included at all? Is the appearance and language of the email official? (Just a hint: a title of Its time 4 U to renew UR account! is a dead giveaway.)


Check whos getting the email. If theres more than one address, get suspicious quick.

If a message youve received has aroused your suspicion, a quick way to check if its legit is to take a look at who its gone out to.

If theres more than one email address there, theyre probably not who they say they are-- after all, major companies have a privacy policy to follow. Many lazy phishers simply blitz the Net, sending messages to hot_bad_muscles1, hot_bad_muscles2, all the way up to you at hot_bad_muscles2000.

4. Do the emails claims catch your attention? Check it online.

One way phishing spam works is by trying to scare you into acting quickly.

Theyre going to delete your account. Or theyre going to kill you. Or theyre going to run over your dog.

If the content of an email catches your attention and you feel you must take action, look into it first. The easiest way to do this is to Google a sentence or two from the email. If you find other people online talking about it, its garbage.

The big bad phisher will try to get under your skin-- but just delete those suckers right out of your inbox.

5. Stop phishing in its tracks by reporting phishing scams to the company theyre pretending to be.

No major (or, heck, minor) company wants to be impersonated by someone looking to steal their clients info and even their identities. While most of them dont actually care what happens to you (when is the last time your bank manager gave you a hug?), they do care how identity theft makes their company look.

So be sure to advise an organization that their customers are being targeted by a phishing spam. They can send out warnings, button down security, and generally work to keep their clients info safe.

There are a lot of nasty characters creeping around on the Net. And some careless people do fall into their traps. Dont be one of them.

Instead, up the anti-spam security on your email server, keep your eyes peeled for bogus emails, and delete, delete, delete.


About the Author (text)Jes Darmanin works at GFI Software: a company that creates professional anti spam software for servers. More information about GFI MailEssentials - The leading server antispam solution on

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