You’ve probably seen recent news reports of the thefts of possibly millions of e-mail addresses from a large advertising company. This security breach could affect customers of such well-known companies as Best Buy, American Express, Citibank, Capital One, Visa, and others.

Here’s the problem: a crook could send an e-mail to a customer of a bank, let’s say. The e-mail might suggest a problem with the account and link the account holder to a counterfeit website. Here the trusting victim is asked to login and voila: the criminal now has access to the account!

When the perpetrator has knowledge of a relationship between an e-mail address holder and a particular company, the chances of a successful deception is greater than random attempts at phishing. These targeted attempts are known as “spear phishing.”

Avoid being a victim of fraud:

  1. Guard your privacy – Be very careful what you say and to whom you say it. Pretty decent advice—but particularly when it comes to on-line communications.
  2. Pay attention – Remember: if something does not seem right, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts; better safe than sorry.
  3. Be suspicious – If a request from a well-known company does not seem professional, it is likely a fake. Even if it looks professional, it could be a fake. Double-check.

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