Phishing is the act of sending an email that falsely claims to be from a trusted source, in an effort to obtain your password, personal account information, or just money. One that I have gotten a great deal of lately is the “I’m in Europe, my passport has been stolen and I need $xxx to pay my hotel bill” variant. This was sent to me on several occasions by people I knew. Their email accounts had been compromised, and the phisher had sent the email to everyone in their address book.
Obviously, if you see something like this in your inbox, let your friend know his or her email account has been hacked. But don’t send any money.
Lastly, here are some things to do to help protect yourself from being a victim of this type of scam.
1. Change your password on your email account regularly.
2. Make sure your password is secure, with numbers and other special characters.
3. Consider changing your email account if it has been hacked.
4. Make sure you have anti-virus software on your computer and that it is up to date. This is especially important with wireless connections.
5. Don’t give out your email address and password to just anyone.
6. Review your Facebook settings. A great deal of information, including email address can be mined from unprotected accounts.
7. If you are a victim of such an incident, change password immediately and notify the email provider involved.