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More Good Advice to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Phishing

Don’t fall for the bait. It takes a few minutes longer, but if you are in any way inclined to respond to an e-mail that could be phishing to send you to a phony website do not click on the hyperlink in the e-mail that purports to send you directly to the company’s website. Rather, type in what you know to be the proper website address for the company with which you are dealing.

As more people become aware of the dangers of phishing, identity thieves are adapting their tactics to use Internet search engines, such as Google or Bing, to lure people into clicking on links that people think will send them to a legitimate website, but that instead will download dangerous malware to their computers that can steal all the information on their computers and make them victims of identity theft. Identity thieves have been able to infiltrate search engines by adapting their phony websites that contain these dangerous links to be positioned on search engines to receive more traffic. People are less aware of this danger and are less skeptical of search-engine results than they are of e-mails with phony phishing links.

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in 2014 captured the attention of people around the world, so it should come as no surprise that scammers and identity thieves promptly used this event as an opportunity to steal people’s identity through malware-infected phony news reports, photos, and videos. In 2011 similar scams tied to the Japanese tsunami were common. Throughout the Internet and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, following the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, links to phony stories, photos, and videos appeared with tantalizing headlines such as “Shocking video, Malaysian Airlines missing flight MH 370 found in Sea,” “Malaysian Airlines missing flight MH 370 found in Sea—50 people alive saved,” and “CNN UPDATE Breaking—Malaysian Airplane MH 370 Already Found. Shocking Video.” Some phony links even promised videos of the plane in the Bermuda Triangle. Unfortunately, if you clicked on these links, all you succeeded in doing was unwittingly downloading keystroke-logging malware that could steal your personal information from your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.

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