“Spoofing” or “phishing” scams attempt to make internet users believe that they are receiving e-mails and texts from a specific, trusted source.  Spoofing is often used to convince individuals to divulge their personal or financial information. This then enables the perpetrators to commit credit card fraud, bank fraud, and other forms of identity theft. In “email spoofing” the header of an e-mail appears to originate from someone or somewhere other than the actual source. Spam distributors often use email spoofing to get their recipients to open the message and possibly even respond to their solicitations. 

“IP spoofing” is a technique used to gain unauthorized access to computers.  In this instance the unscrupulous scammer sends a message to a computer with an IP address indicating that the message is coming from a trusted source. 

How to Protect Yourself

1. If you need to update your information online, use the same procedure you’ve used before, or open a new browser window and type in the website address of the legitimate company’s page. 

2. If a website’s address is unfamiliar, it’s probably not authentic. Only use the address that you’ve used before, or better yet, start at the normal homepage. 

3. Most companies require you to log in to a secure site. Look for the lock in your browser and “https” in front of the website address.

4. If you encounter an unsolicited e-mail that requests, either directly or through a web site, for personal financial or identity information, such as Social Security number, passwords, or other identifiers, exercise extreme caution.

5. Take note of the header address on the web site. Most legitimate sites will have a relatively short internet address that usually depicts the business name followed by “.com,” or possibly “.org.” Spoof sites are more likely to have an excessively long string of characters in the header, with the legitimate business name somewhere in the string, or possibly not at all.

6. If you have any doubts about an e-mail or website, contact the legitimate company directly. Make a copy of the questionable web site’s URL address, send it to the legitimate business and ask if the request is authentic. 

7. Always report fraudulent or suspicious e-mails to your ISP (internet service provider), and also to the company they may be pretending to be.

8. Lastly, if you have been a victim of an online scam, you should file a complaint with the your local authority. 

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