The SALT Blog has mashed up YouTube videos with money vocab to help you make sense of (and remember) financial terminology. Today, we’re taking on an important topic that will help you keep your personal info safe: identity theft phishing.
Last week, a SALT member received a call from someone claiming to be affiliated with us. This person offered grant money—but only if the member first provided his credit card information.
This savvy member handled the situation perfectly. He didn’t provide the personal info, recorded the caller’s phone number, and called SALT member support to see if the offer was legit. It wasn’t, and his help allowed our security team to act accordingly.
This person experienced a tactic known as “phishing.” (Not to be confused “Phish”-ing, which isn’t as bad for your well-being. Well, depending on whom you ask.)
Identity thieves “phish” by posing as a legitimate business to collect personal information. Phishing can happen via phone, email, or the Web, and it’s impacted big-name companies like eBay, PayPal, and Bank of America.
STAYING OUT OF HARM’S WAY
By stealing your personal information, identity thieves can do things like:
- Use your accounts freely.
- Change the address on your credit card accounts.
- Open new credit card accounts in your name.
These acts can have long-lasting consequences—but you can prevent them just by remembering this “free hugs” video.
Here’s how: Whenever you receive an unsolicited request for personal information, think about a reasonable (i.e., cynical) reaction to a guy offering unsolicited hugs: “Ummm, this is a little strange… why do you need this from me?”
Sure, this guy’s intentions are probably better than an identity thief’s (unless he’s stealing wallets while hugging people), but you’ll put yourself into a compromising position to find out.
And like how we can’t get this guy off the street—the police tried!—you can’t always proactively prevent identity theft. If you think before you act, though, you can keep your information safe.
Have an analogy that will help our readers remember how to avoid “phishers” (“phishermen?”)? Share it in the comments.