We are about to talk about the kind of "phishing" that no one enjoys. There's no relaxation. There's only mountains of stress and the hopes that irreparable damage hasn't been done; once you realize you've been had. We're going to touch base on just a few of the major ones out there and hopefully, when we're done, you'll be able to avoid and report them; once you've learned to identify certain things.

COMING IN AT #1!!!!!!!!...........it's the all famous "Nigerian scam". This scam can take on all sorts of different kinds of iterations. The long and the short of it is, you receive a message from someone; either to buy a car or to inform you of an enormous fortune you could be part of "but I am needing your help, please." I'll give you the example of the car (or any item you may be selling)...you receive an email or phone call about your car and they say that they are interested in purchasing it. You are selling the car for $4,000 and they would like for you to deposit their check, arrange for the transport and pay for it. They will actually send you a check for $5,500 to cover all expenses and whatever is left you will WesterUnion to them immediately. They make it seem as if they are being overly cordial and, in some cases, doing you a favor. You deposit the check, arrange the transport, wire the money and...............BANG!!!.........the check bounces. You are now out the money you sent them by wire, the money spent on transport and, in some cases, the car as well. Now.....I know you're asking yourself, "who would fall for such a dumb scenario?" Well...would you believe me if I told you that 100s, if not, 1,000s fall for this every year; even though it is so well known that it even has its own name? Avoid these at all cost. They may look different but, it will always look the same. A really appealing offer, they want to overpay, you send back the rest..........SCAM!!!!!

Let me give you a few more examples and then I'll go into the most elaborate one I have ever personally seen. Yes..........personally.

Here's just a few of my favorites:

1.) You get an email from FedEx telling you that a package failed delivery and is needing your action.....just click this link.

2.) You get a call from someone at Microsoft tech support informing you that there has been an alert in their system that your system has been compromised. I won't get into full detail about this. I will just tell you......Microsoft doesn't do this. Simply tell them, "if I need you...I'll call you." You can YouTube "fake microsoft tech support" to see more on what happens and how this works.

3.) You get a popup on your computer screen telling you that you have "slow performance" or some sort of "virus detected" on your computer. Another one is the "your computer has been locked...please contact us here to unlock it for $X.XX.

4.) Anyone selling you stocks, investment opportunities or currency conversion or gold/silver....RUN!!!

5.) The IRS is calling to tell you that federal charges are being brought against you and warrant will be issued for you arrest by the end of the day. They would like to settle this debt (that you don't have) without involving the authorities so...you can pay part of it now over the phone and we'll settle your tax debt.

And then........there's the one that gets people the most. Some of these others stink to high heck like a scam; yes even over the phone. But....this one takes the cake. I've seen this personally and IT....IS...GOOD!!!

You get an email that looks like it is legitimately from your financial institution (for these examples Paypal and Bank of America). In the email it leads you to believe that something is wrong with your account; either a possible breach in security or your account has been limited. What the email wants you to do is click on the link, with a sense of urgency, in order to fix the situation. The email is a spot on match to both of them. So you click on the link...and it's a spot on match down to the footer credentials and the login; generally taking you to a page that looks like the login or password change of the site...........did I mention that they are SPOT ON??? You get the message that backs up the security warning that you got in the email. To verify your identity and change your password immediately, you need to login with your current credentials. BAM........................DONE!!! They already got you!!! Before your new password is entered, your old one has been used to access your account and change your password; which very shortly after is drained by transfers to out of the country accounts or the like (just as hard to track or do anything about). I, ALMOST, feel like applauding the effort that they went to make these things look so legit. The only problem is, there are little tell-tale signs that something is amiss. For instance...Bank of America's website will be bankofamerica.com not (something like) secureweb.bankofamerica.co.com. The incorrect URL will always be the dead give away.

Hopefully you get what some of these things are like and how to avoid them. Like;

1.) if you get a warning about ANY account passwords, NEVER click the link in the email!!! Go directly to the site YOURSELF...login check you status or alerts/notifications and then, if nothing is there, contact their support staff to inform them of the email. You will not be hassling them and there is nothing to be embarrassed about...they would rather know than NOT know.

2.) If it sounds too good to be true....it probably is. Never accept more than what you are asking for an item...EVER!!! I know it's tempting...you will pay for it dearly while they move onto the next sucker.

3.) Think to yourself, not about what they're saying but, who they're saying they are. The IRS will never call you like that. Microsoft will never call you like that. The Prince of Nigeria will never call you like that. Simple....it just doesn't happen.

4.) If you're expecting a package, you'll probably have a tracking number and know it's status already. Really, whether you are or aren't, I can guarantee you that they don't contact you like that email states and they certainly don't ask you to click a downloadable link.

5.) A great way to check a link is to right click it and and copy link (do not open it) and paste it into a word document or something. Obviously this wouldn't be for everything and you can usually inspect the link on the spot to see where it leads. If it looks PHISHY...it probably is.

6.) Around the holidays...and right after....be very dilegent when opening links in emails stating they are from an online retailer. Most people want access to those accounts to make purchases with your stored card on file and send them to themselves.


I'm sure you're just a little bit better prepared now and possibly know what to look for. Hopefully you haven't been victim of one of these types of scams.

Good luck and BE SAFE!!!

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