How to Protect Your Accounts from Online Phishing Scams

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The term phishing describes identity theft scams involving scam websites and emails or other messages. The goal of online phishing scams is to gain access to your account and sensitive information. An attacker can create their own website that mimics a reputable one or send you a message that seems to come from a trusted source. Online phishing scams messages can come from a fake account or an account that has been hacked.

What is Phishing?

Online phishing scams involve sending an e-mail falsely claiming to be from an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that they will use for identity theft.

The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit cards, social security numbers, and bank account numbers. It is relatively simple to make a Web site look like a legitimate site by mimicking the page’s HTML code or framing parts.

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What Online Phishing Scams Do?

Many people fall victim to email scams designed to steal log-in information for accounts such as PayPal, eBay, online banking accounts, and more. Scammers send emails to every address they can obtain, so you may receive these even if you don’t have an account with the targeted enterprise, site, or company.

The online phishing scams’ emails keep getting better and better in their appearance. You may receive an email that pretends to be sent from eBay. The email will have all the appropriate logos and will often be formatted in the same way. The links within the email can even appear to be directed to legitimate pages within eBay.

For example, e-mails supposedly from eBay claiming that the user’s account is about to be suspended unless they clicked on the provided link and updated the credit card information.

How to Avoid Online Phishing Scams?

How to Protect Your Accounts from Online Phishing Scams
Cyber Security – Protect Your Accounts from Online Phishing Scams

Recently I received an email claiming to be from PayPal. It appears to be a receipt for an eBay purchase that I know nothing about. The subject line is “Receipt for Your Payment.”

The email body included a description of the eBay item that had allegedly been purchased using my PayPal account.

Below that was a notice that said:
Note: if you haven’t authorized this charge, click the link below to dispute the transaction and get a full refund

I wonder how many people receiving a similar email would quickly click on the link provided to contest the charges to become victims of online phishing scams.

OK, I know to be cautious with this sort of thing, so I did not click on anything in the email. Instead, I went to PayPal on my own and logged in. Guess what? There is no record there of the purchase!

Then I started looking at the formatting of the email. When I viewed the message’s properties, I found that it was actually from a sender and not PayPal. Just because it says that it is from eBay and at the top of the email doesn’t always mean who it is from. Anyone can easily alter the “From” name in an email to rectify online phishing scams.

This email was formatted more like a received payment PayPal email than it was an actual receipt. I looked at all of my other emails titled “Receipt for your payment” and not one of the others was formatted like this one.

Why You Have to be Careful With Online Phishing Scams?

How to Protect Your Accounts from Online Phishing Scams
Be Careful – Protect Your Accounts from Online Phishing Scams

Other types of scams that involve PayPal usually involve a message about unauthorized access attempts in online phishing scams. The sender will tell you that someone has tried to get into your account. As a result, your account is in danger of being “frozen.” However, if you click the link in the email (You are told), you will be able to enter your password to avoid your account’s loss. Naturally, those unfortunate enough to give their log-in information will have given it to strangers.

Remember that this is not limited to PayPal. Users of Storm Pay, e-gold, eBay, and more will see similar emails.

Protect Your Accounts from Online Phishing Scams

Watch out for online phishing scams like this designed to trick you into submitting information (like passwords) to allow the sender to access your account. Whenever you receive any suspicious messages, go to your account via a new browser and typing in the URL. Never click a link in an email that is supposed to take you to your PayPal account. If you make that the rule, your account information (and funds!) will be much safer.

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If You Receive a Suspicious Email:

Do not reply, even if you recognize the sender as a well-known business or financial institution. If you have an account with this institution, contact them directly and ask them to verify the email’s information to avoid online phishing scams.

Do not click any links provided in these emails (or cut and paste them into a browser). This may download viruses to your computer, or at best, confirm your email address to phishers.

Do not open any attachments. If you receive an attachment you are not expecting, confirm that they did indeed send the message and meant to send an attachment.

Do not enter your personal information or passwords on an untrusted Web site or form referenced in the email. 

How to Report Phishing?

If you got a phishing email or text message, report it. The information you give can help fight the online phishing scams. If you believe that you have provided sensitive financial information about yourself or any accounts through a phishing scam, you should:

  • Contact your financial institution or account immediately
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus and request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report.

Step 1. If you got a phishing email, forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at [email protected]. If you got a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).

Step 2. Report the phishing attack to the FTC at

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