How to avoid becoming "phish" bait

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's easy for any of us to fall victim to an email scam.  "Phishing" emails are a regular occurance in our inboxes these days, but there are ways to avoid the bait and keep from becoming a victim.

We are Protecting Your Cyberturf.  Theresa Payton shows us exactly how to keep our information and accounts safe.  She'll also define the Word of the Week which is "spear phishing".

Carefully read the information below if you think you have received one of these "phishing" emails.  Theresa details exactly what to do to keep your personal information safe.

If You See Phish Bait:

If you believe you have received a phishing email, most email services have a "report spam" button that you can press.  You can always forward it or report it to

If you are unsure and feel you need to contact the company listed in the email, go to the navigation bar and type in the link you normally use or call a number that is printed on your statement.

You Believe You Took the Bait:

If you believe you took the phishing bait, file a complaint with local law enforcement and visit to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Also request to freeze your credit report and ask for a free credit report.

Spotting Phish Bait:

(1)  Your children may accidentally click on pop ups while surfing the net.  Teach them to notify you when there is a random pop up while they are online.  You can also set your web browser to "Block Pop Ups" as a precaution.

(2)  Government Agencies such as the IRS and the FBI have been recent targets in phishing scam emails.  Both have said they will never ask for personal information via email.

(3)  Banks and credit card companies are also popular phishing targets and will never ask for your personal information via email.

Rules to Remember:

B:  Beware of popups or emails that request you click on a link.

A:  Account alerts can be set up to help you monitor your accounts.

I:  Internet addresses should include https:// if they are asking for personal and sensitive information.

T:  Tone is usually a give away.  If the tone says you must act quickly or something bad will happen it is usually a scam.

Filters For Your Browsers Can Help:

Check your browser so you can set Phishing filters.

For example, Internet Explorer 8 provides you with SmartScreen Filter .  Turn the filter on and it will issue you a warning if the site is considered unsafe.

Another example is the Safari browser.  The browser automatically warns you if there is anything suspect about a page and recognizes sites that have been known to be dangerous.

In addition, most antivirus software allows you to turn on a webpage filter and will highlight if the site is safe, unknown, or considered unsafe.

Test Your Phish Spotting Saavy!

There are ways to test your saavy to avoid the phishing bait.

Test your skills at the following sites to see if you know how to spot phishy emails.

SonicWall Phishing and Spam Quiz Phishing Skills

Onguard Has a Series of Games that Quiz Your Skills