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The Internet is definitely the phenomenon of the century but with it comes many dangers and most of those dangers involve trying to separate you and your money. Sometimes this is through gimmicks and the sale of snake oil, and sometimes it is through fraudulent scams.

One particular scam known as phishing has to do with trying to trick you into giving up personal information like your Social Security number, bank account numbers or passwords. This often involves giving you what appears to be a legitimate e-mail with well known website addresses that those addresses actually lead to the criminal’s website.

Here are some things to be on the lookout for:

  • Links that ask you to verify your account information
  • Links that ask you to confirm your login information
  • Links that ask you for any type of credit card number, username or password
  • Links that include messages or threats that your account or registration will become an active or deactivated if you do not access it and confirm your account
  • Links that ask you to confirm some sort of shipment for receipt of an item

One of the more tricky ones especially for business people, are scam e-mails that say you have a shipment coming to you from UPS or FedEx, and ask you to login to verify. Once logged in they ask you a lot of times to give a credit card number to pay for some sort of extra charge to get the package delivered.[TIPJAR]

My rule of thumb is, and what I caution people about constantly, is to never ever click on a link from an e-mail that ask you to go to an account. If it is a legitimate e-mail from a known source like a bank, credit card company or vendor, simply go to that organization’s website directly and use their login link if you believe it to be a legitimate message. Most banks and credit card companies will ask you to go to their website and login rather than including a link in the e-mail.

Some of the more common scams that you will see are:

  • An e-mail that says you’ve received money from a wire service
  • A telephone call or e-mail that says you have won a prize or cash
  • An e-mail that says a check or money order is being sent to you
  • An e-mail that says you have won something or need to receive something and you just need to pay a handling or shipping fee

The number one rule is, and always will be, if it’s too good to be true, then it’s not true. Always be suspicious of every e-mail and every link that does not come from a source that you are very familiar with and trust.

When in doubt, don’t click or open anything that comes in e-mail that you are not 100% sure of.