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Most often phishing e-mails are not directed at you by name, but rather to you as “customer” or “consumer.” They also might appear to come from companies with which you do not do business, such as a bank where you have no accounts. However, with the epidemic of hacking of large companies and governmental agencies, many identity thieves are able to use the hacked information to send you a personal, phony e-mail that contains your name and is definitely from a company or agency with which you do business, making you more likely to respond to the urging to click on the dangerous link contained in the e-mail. This type of targeted phishing is called “spearphishing” and it is extremely dangerous.

Never click on links in e-mails unless you are absolutely sure they are legitimate. If you get a link-containing e-mail from a company with which you do business, you should always be skeptical and make sure that you call the company before considering clicking on the link to confirm whether the e-mail is legitimate. The mere fact that the e-mail uses your name and even your account number does not necessarily mean that the e-mail is legitimate.

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