How not to get caught by scammers
Phishing is the evil art of sending a fake email to someone in the hope of conning them into doing something they wouldn't otherwise do. For example, luring them to a fake bank website where they enter their account number and password or tricking them out of their eBay identity.
The problem is growing. The combination of fake emails and fake websites is a powerful for online criminals. The Anti-Phishing Working Group found 9,666 fake websites in March alone. Not only that but the criminals are getting better at it.
Spot the fake
Traditional advice, though useful, is less and less effective at spotting the fakes. In the past bogus emails have been easy to spot because of obvious mistakes:
The same things applied to fake websites. Badly-formatted or amateurish sites were easy to spot. Not any longer.
Fakes are getting better
Recent research from Harvard and Berkeley Universities suggest that people often don't even spot these giveaways but, more worryingly, the phishers are getting better at fooling us. The 'best' phishing site fooled 90% of the people surveyed.
One company has published a website where you can test your own ability to spot fakes. I have to admit that I didn't get 100 per cent. See what I mean?
I recommend a combination of caution, knowledge and technology to protect yourself from phishing: