Whenever you are surfing the internet and you come across a site that asks you for your credit card details, do you check to see if the site is genuine? Do you make sure that the site actually belongs to the company you are dealing with? Or is it just some college kid who has bought a similar domain name. Termed as Phishing, today there are numerous methods that cyber criminals employ to obtain credit card details and other sensitive information online. Cyber criminals usually use emails and instant messaging to 'Phish' for information. Lets take an example, say a customer has a bank account with xyz bank, usually all the literature the bank sends out clearly mentions which site to log on to and which site to access for net banking and other online transactions, so lets say the bank's authorized site is xyz.com, now what cyber criminals do is buy a domain name similar to xyz.
com, something like xyzbank.com, as far as a user is concerned need not worry when entering his details on the website of xyzbank.com, as it is his bank's website right? Wrong! Before you carry out any banking transaction or net banking activity online, don't just guess or assume the website of your bank, make sure you visit the website that is mentioned in the literature the bank provided, in fact even if you have been dealing with a website so far, double check to see that the site is the authentic site of your bank.
Another popular way of obtaining credit card information and other sensitive information like net banking passwords is to send a customer an email that looks just like an email from the bank. By using software called anonymous mailers a cyber criminal can send an email from any computer and imitate the same email that your bank uses. This in essence is called Phishing, a term I had used earlier in the article.
Things to remember when you receive any email that asks for your credit card information or net banking details are: a) A majority of the banks do not ask for any sensitive information online, in fact they usually mention clearly in all their literature that they will never send out a mail asking you for your net banking, or credit card details. b) If you feel that an email is genuine and has been sent by your bank, make sure you call the bank and verify that they have sent you the email, you will be surprised by how genuine some Phishing emails look. The internet has made is simpler for people to make purchases online, and to carry out financial transactions like bill payments and other funds transfers. However by being aware of the various ways in which you can get scammed, you are protecting yourself from any future complications that might arise.
Remember when in doubt make sure you check the authenticity of the site you are dealing with, or better still just call your bank if you are not sure that the email you are looking at was sent by them.
Andres Berger manages http://www.safecomputer.orga website dedicated to help people stay secure on the Internet. Find how to be protected going to: Foxfire free resource