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What Is Phishing?

In the 21st century, identity theft is running rampant. Odds are very good that at some point in your life you may become a victim of identity theft. In this regard, it has been reported that this year alone one in ten people will become the victims of identity theft each year. Indeed, most experts agree that this number will rise -- and perhaps rise dramatically -- in the immediate future.

One of the techniques that oftentimes is used when it comes to identity theft is something called phishing. While you may have heard of the term phishing, particularly if you spend any time online, you may not really know what phishing is all about.

Through this article, you will be provided with a general overview of phishing. While this article may not answer all of your questions in regard to phishing, it will provide you with some basic information on phishing that will be helpful to you in protecting yourself from identity theft.

Phishing - Defined

There are a number of ways in which phishing has been defined in this day and age. A common definition of phishing runs something like:

Phishing is the act or practice actually of tricking someone into providing confidential information or to trick someone into doing something that they would not have otherwise done. By way of example, an email may be sent to an Internet user falsely claiming to be an established and reliable business enterprise of one sort or another. Through this email, an attempt is made to scam or con the Internet user into providing personal or financial information -- which is given to a person who is intent on committing identity theft.




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Another common definition of phishing that is applicable and illustrative is:

Phishing comes from an analogy that Internet crooks are using electronic communications like email as bait to fish for passwords and financial information from a proverbial sea of Internet users. Because many computer hackers have taken to exchanging the letter “f” for a “ph”, the term phishing was coined in time. The term did evolve over time from merely attempting to gain passwords (which was the goal of the hacker) to obtaining other information like personal and financial data and information (which is the goal of the identity thief).

Finally, another concise and illustrative definition of phishing is:

Phishing is deemed to be a form of Internet fraud with the aim to steal valuable information including credit cards, ID numbers, bank information, Social Security numbers and other data and information. In some instances, emails are sent with the intent of baiting people to provide personal or financial information or both. In some instances, completely fake websites are set up which appears to be a legitimate organization but really is nothing more than a front for identity theft.

In summary, by understanding the basic definitions that have been applied to phishing in this day and age, you will have a better chance of combating phishing and of combating and preventing identity theft.


 

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