Protect Your Credit Card Accounts and Avoid Phishing Scams

How to avoid phishing

With more online accounts getting hacked, it’s a good idea to use caution when receiving emails from businesses you trust. Lately I’ve been getting quite a bit of phishing emails:

  • saying that I owe money
  • my credit card was charged for plane tickets that was purchased
  • the latest phishing email notified me that my PayPal account will be suspended unless I click on the email link to confirm my information.

Phishing Definition

Phishing is “when internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information” (as defined by the Federal Trade Commission).

I decided to do this post on phishing because I could see my dad or older family members clicking on these fraudulent emails. Thereby compromising their accounts and giving these fraudsters access to their user name, passwords, or credit card information.

Phishing Email Example

PayPal Phishing Email

This PayPal email looked legitimate except that I noticed four things:

  1. The email was mailed to userLogin0349@Applelogcompain.com
  2. “costomer” was misspelled
  3. Used “ω” for the letter “w”
  4. The reply email was an email address that had *.ru which is a domain from Russia

To be safe I ended up going to PayPal.com and changed my password. I also reported the phishing email to spam@uce.gov and reportphishing@antiphishing.org as well as PayPal so they are aware of the phishing email. If you aren’t sure if the email you have is a phishing email, it is always best to go straight to the company website or call them and talk to a representative. What ever you do, don’t click on anything that is on this possible phishing email and don’t use any of the information on the email such as the telephone number or website url it provides.

Dealing with phishing scams

  • Remember that companies don’t ask for credit card and bank account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, etc.
  • Delete emails and text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information. So other family members that have access to your email don’t click on these phishing emails.
  • Don’t reply or click on the links from these fraudulent emails. These emails may have viruses or malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • If you are concerned about your account, I would call the number on the back of your credit card or go straight to the legitimate credit card url like americanexpress.com to check on your account.
  • I also forward the phishing emails to spam@uce.gov and reportphishing@antiphishing.org to help fight phishing. Also include the full email header.

Ways to Protect Your Credit Card Information

  • When I pay bills online, I don’t save the credit card information. Again, a lot of big or small companies easily get hacked so I try not to save my credit card payment information.
  • I don’t use autopay for bills except for mortgages. It forces me to look at each credit card or bill payment to make sure all the charges are valid.
  • Check your credit card statements once a month for fraudulent purchases and dispute false charges if necessary.
  • Don’t shop online or pay your bills when surfing on an unknown public wifi (like Starbucks or at the airport) or on LTE (on your phone). I only pay bills and shop online when I’m at home and am on my home wifi.
  • Change your password every year.
  • Check your credit score every month (if possible). Credit cards offer you to check your credit score for free. This will help you determine if your identity was stolen.

Be proactive and good luck keeping your accounts safe in this age of online theft.

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