Don't get hooked by a Phisherman
Almost every major bank in the country now offers online banking services where you can check your account balances and transfer funds to almost anywhere with just a couple of clicks. At the same rate as this explosion of online banking convenience, there has been a commensurate rise in the number of online scam artists who will stop at nothing to create phantom websites which are designed to fool you into coughing up your User ID and Passwords which they can use to empty out your bank account.
In order to proceed with their nefarious plans to steal our money, these scammers need the information that we utilize to access our online bank accounts. Even if they had our names, Social Security numbers, and other information that is relatively easy to obtain through public credit reports and other means, they still couldn't fool our online bank web site interface into having it grant access to all our funds as if they were us. That's why the process to obtain our User ID and Password is so critical. Once they have it, they can just log onto the bank site and most likely the bank won't know that it's not us!
Some banks have implemented a new system whereby they log the IP of the computer that you usually utilize to log onto your account. When the site notices that you're at a different IP, it asks you one of the secret questions that you have already entered answers to, such as "what was the name of your best friend in elementary school?" If you can't answer that question then the bank knows its not you and denies you entry. This is a great security feature but can also be quite burdensome if you're a very mobile person and you have to go through the question and answer section every time you move around with your laptop. Still, it's a small inconvenience when you consider that the alternative could be having your bank account vacuumed clean.
There are still many online banks that don't have this question and answer feature, and those are far easier for the scam artist to enter, by using a Phishing Email. They will usually send you an email that for all intents and purposes looks like an official email from your bank, complete with the appropriate logos, asking you to log into your account by using the link in the email because "there has been unauthorized activity" or some such nonsense. If you are silly enough to actually click on that link, you'll find yourself in an exact clone of your bank's login page, except when you enter your User ID and Password, you don't access your account, but you have given the scammers all the information so that they can do it for you!
How can you avoid this? Never ever ever click on a link on a bank email. The real bank will never ask you to do that. Whenever you have to enter your online banking site, simply enter the known URL in your browser and continue from there. If you have any more doubts, carefully check the incoming email address which will be subtly different than the one your real bank uses. So if your real bank sends from firstuniversalbank.com, the scam email might be from firstuniversalbanks.com.
It pays to be very careful when dealing with online banking or the Phishermen will get you!
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