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Abney Associates Internet Technology: Phishing, Email and Internet Scams Answered

Phishing, email and Internet scams are common on the Internet and can include:
Emails containing virus infected attachments. The two common methods for distribution of viruses and malicious code are via email attachments and downloading malicious code from the Internet. By far the most common method of distribution is by email attachments so exercise caution when opening attachments. The general rule is: If you are not expecting the attachment and don't trust the source - don't open it!

For information on recognising a phishing email, visit the Microsoft Safety and Security Centre website: How To Recognise a Phishing Email.

Further information on spam and scams are available below:
Nigeria 419 scams
How to recognise spoofed websites

What is Phishing?
Phishing is a type of deception aimed at identify theft. In a phishing scam, a malicious person tries to get personal and financial information such as bank account details, credit card numbers, passwords, or other personal information from you by convincing you to give it to them under false pretences.
Phishing schemes usually come via spam email that contains a link to a fake website such as a banksite or e-bay site.
A phishing scam begins with a malicious user who sends out millions of fraudulent e-mail messages that appear to come from popular Web sites or from sites that you trust, like your bank or credit card company.
The e-mail messages, and the Web sites they often send you to, look official enough that they deceive many people into believing that they're legitimate. Believing that these emails are legitimate, unsuspecting people too often respond to the email's requests for their credit card numbers, passwords, account information, or other personal information.

A scam artist might put a link in a fake e-mail that appears to go to the legitimate Web site, but actually takes you to a scam site or even a pop-up window that looks exactly like the official site. These copies are often called spoofed Web sites. Once you're at one of these spoofed sites or pop-up windows you might unwittingly enter even more personal information that will be transmitted directly to the person who created the spoofed site. That person can then use this information to purchase goods, apply for a new credit card, or steal your identity.

Protect yourself against phishing
Just as they do in the physical world, scam artists will continue to develop new and more sinister ways to trick you online. But following these five steps can help you protect your personal information.

Never respond to requests for personal information via e-mail or in a pop-up window. If in doubt, call the institution that claims to be the sender of the e-mail or pop-up window. Australian Banks never send emails containing weblinks to login sites for bank accounts.
Avoid clicking on weblinks included in suspicious emails as you may download a virus or malicious code by visiting the site. Instead visit web sites by typing the URL into your address bar or by having the URL already bookmarked.
Check to make sure the Web site is using encryption by looking for the yellow padlock on the website (although this is increasingly being faked as well).
Routinely review your credit card and bank statements.
Report suspected abuses of your personal information to the proper authorities.

Source: http://www.scu.edu.au/it/index.php/20