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  • Put Phishers on the Hook
    By Robert Levy

    In the old days (that is, ten years ago or so), computer viruses were all you'd worry about while surfing the Net. The enemies were malicious, or mischievous, people who wrote viruses to wreak one kind of havoc or another.

    But these days, there's a different villain in town, and he's got a different motive: Greed.

    "Phishers" dress up fake Web sites and emails to look like they come from your bank, department store, or Internet provider, then ask for credit card numbers, social security information, or other sensitive stuff. When they get what they want, they bleed you dry.

    Once we're aware that those kinds of people are out there, we may feel that we're left with an ugly choice: Do we distrust every email and Web site, never buy anything online, and miss out on the convenience of the Net; or do we risk losing money, privacy, and maybe even our identity, to thieves and thugs?

    But don't despair! Learning how to avoid the bad guys may be easier than you think. We've put together some tips, plus a great (and free) tool called ScamBlocker, to help you beat the phishers while enjoying the Net.

    Staying Safe
    First of all, I should mention that no software available today can protect you one hundred percent. Until all the scammers are rotting in jail, I advise caution. But when you combine good information with a good scam-killer like EarthLink ScamBlocker, you can begin to relax a little more.

    So first, learn how phishers work. Then use that knowledge, plus ScamBlocker, to stop them from working you over.

    Good Information
    Computer viruses take advantage of a gap in your computer's security. Unfortunately, most of us can't go into our computer's operating system and close those gaps.

    But phishers take advantage of a gap in your knowledge. They hope that you can't tell which emails and sites are legitimate and which are fake. Fortunately, you can fix that gap yourself, just by learning how to spot the scams.

    For a top ten list on the signs that tell if a Web site or email is a phony, check out our page on How to Spot a Phisher.

    Or, if you think you're ready to match wits with the sneakiest phishers around, take the quiz! The quiz is a great way to check how well you spot the fakes—without risking your wallet. And each answer tells you exactly how you can beat the bad guys in the real (virtual) world.

    Good Tool
    Now that your brain is filled with phisher knowledge, it's time to let EarthLink help with the heavy thinking. Go grab EarthLink ScamBlocker, FREE, and allow us to work behind the scenes to keep the phonies from your desktop. Before you even have to wonder whether an email or Web site is legit, ScamBlocker has already checked it against our massive list of phishers (and run an analysis of the page).

    For surfing the Web, ScamBlocker comes as part of the free EarthLink Toolbar (for Internet Explorer or Firefox) on Windows or free TotalAccess for the Mac. For email, it comes as part of free MailBox for Windows (sorry, no email ScamBlocker for the Mac at this time).

    More info about ScamBlocker for surfing:

    Toolbar with ScamBlocker for Windows (Internet Explorer or Firefox)
    TotalAccess with ScamBlocker for the Mac

    More info about ScamBlocker for email:

    MailBox with ScamBlocker for Windows

    So, go out there and do your banking (or manage your EarthLink account) online with confidence. Armed with brain power and ScamBlocker power, you're a lot better equipped to handle whatever the phishers throw your way.

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