Phishing is no good. Learn how to protect yourself right here!Okay, we all used to hope that e-baddies like spyware and spam and the like would one day go away, as our intrepid computer hardware and software designers caught on to the nasty little tricks these fellows use to abuse your PC. But as it now seems, that’ll never be the case. You need to know how to identify these online and cyber-threats because odds are, they’re already targeting you. For now, lets talk about Phishing.

Phishing might seem like a harmless threat, in part because it’s been re-spelled to seem hip and somewhat ominous. But it’s not cool, nor is it particularly fashionable: Phishing scams are just another attempt by the bad guys to steal valuable information. What makes information so sponge-worthy nowadays? It can be used for ill-begotten ends from opening credit cards in your name to stealing your assets such as checking account balances, even stuff like your MMORPG login information.

Why Phishing Works

While it may seem like the most rudimentary forms of common sense could easily defeat these kind of scams, the perpetrators of these misdeeds are actually quite smart. Emails that claim to be from your bank actually look like they’re from your bank…and since all manner of companies you have a legitimate relationship love sending you emails, you might not spot the doppelganger until it’s too late.

A scam email that looks remarkably good...but is incredibly bad in real life

How to Spot a Phishing Scam

So how are you supposed to tell the difference? Well, first of all NO site or company you want to give your business, money, or attention to will ask you for your personal information via email. They just won’t. Most legit companies (from banks to bike salesmen) will tell you from the get-go that they NEVER ask for your personal information, and not to give it out to anyone masquerading as them.

If you somehow forget this information, remember this: quality control is seldom in the criminal’s vocabulary. So look for misspelled words or bad grammar. Many of these e-crime rings are located outside the country, and therefore are orchestrated by folks who have English as a second language.

Bad Grammar is an obvious givaway for a phishing scam

Your bank can spell “Deposit” and use it correctly in a sentence. Can the email they supposedly sent to you? Also, these jokers need a URL to redirect you to. Where does the link they’ve offered actually go? Look at it. If there are letters rearranged (or simply a series of quixotic jumbles), then they’re probably a stinker.

Screwy URLs are a bad sign, people.

What to Do if You Think You’ve Been Phished

It’s important to know you’re not alone out there. Think about it: The financial or economic institution impersonated by the guys who sent you that email will want to know that someone is out there attempting to fool their customers into thinking that they’re them! They’ll chase these guys for you, in many cases. So if you get a completely fake link, tell your bank (or whoever). If you’ve fallen for one of these scams already, tell every institution, bank, online account, etc. that might be affected. They’ll watch your account more closely. If “you” login to your MMORPG account in Mozambique two hours after you (the real you this time) played a game in Newark, they’ll notice.