The phisher emails i'm seeing these days are turning into real works of art. People need to arm themselves with vigilance and a few useful tools, a couple of which I'm outlining below.
All windows users out there would be well-advised to download and make good use of EarthLink's "ScamBlocker", part of the free toolbar. While i don't consider it to be a replacement for good judgment and constant vigilance, it certainly helps exposing sites that attempt to gain personal information from unsuspecting internet users by mimicking sites from banking institutions, online market places, and internet service providers.
PC Mag Review
C|NET review and download
or, direct from earthlink
An informative article
OOoo there's now also a Mac version available!
Words of caution:
- from what little I've gathered, ScamBlocker does NOT guarantee you that a given site isn't a scam. It however removes a lot of the guess-work out of the picture and will likely save us all a lot of time. If you do suspect a site to be a scam, and EarthLink hasn't yet picked-it up, the scamblocker button on the toolbar has a menu item called "Report this site as a fraud", make use of it! You could save thousands of other users!
- every time you see an email exhorting you to "click here" to "rectify" or "update" "your account information", just don't click on the link. If you have a doubt, just relax, take a deep breath, go to your web browser, and type the site's address manually, in the browser's address bar:
... paypal dot com ...
... citibank dot com ...
... myaccount dot earthlink dot net ...
If you are an earthlink member who uses Total Access software, you might consider using the "Earthlink Favorites": they're just like your browser's bookmarks, except that you can access and manage them from any computer by simply going to http://favorites.earthlink.net/.
I'd recommend creating an "Online Accounts" folder where you'll stick all your online banking and services sites. These favorites are automatically available in your Total Access Toolbar.
They also appear in the left column of your start page: http://start.earthlink.net/