Phisher 101 What is Internet Fraud and ID Theft

Phisher 101 What is Internet Fraud and ID Theft


The information below will help you protect yourself from phishers and other forms of Internet fraud.

Phisher 101

  • What is Internet Fraud?
  • What is ID Theft?
  • What do I do if I've been scammed?
  • Tips for Avoiding Scams
  • Recognizing Legitimate EarthLink Requests
  • Reporting Fraud and Getting Help

EarthLink's Commitment to Fighting Fraud

What is Internet Fraud?

Recently, there has been an increase in fraudulent emails that appear to come from a familiar company or service provider. They ask you to provide sensitive personal information--such as your password, credit card number, or Social Security number--with the intent to use your information fraudulently.

Typically, these scams, or "Phisher" emails, ask you to click on a link which redirects you to a fake Web site. These sites are usually very good imitations of the real thing and include logos and fonts of the company they are mimicking.

Fraudulent emails may also ask you to submit your personal information on a form in the actual email, by fax, or by replying to the email.

What is ID Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information to take over your credit accounts, open new ones, take out a loan, rent an apartment, access bank accounts, or commit any other crimes using your identity. When it strikes, the effects can be devastating. Because it frequently involves no physical theft, identity theft may not be noticed by its victims until significant damage has been done--often, several months and thousands of dollars later.

What do I do if I've been scammed?

If you think you've submitted sensitive personal information in response to a fraudulent email, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately.

If you think you've submitted your EarthLink password in response to a scam, you can either reset your password using the Password Tool or contact EarthLink immediately to reset your password. 

Unless you check your credit report frequently, there's often no way to tell if identity thieves have used your personal information to obtain credit accounts or other services in your name.

To help protect yourself, EarthLink has partnered with Equifax to provide its members access to the Equifax Credit Watch monitoring service; enabling subscribers to get an early alert to new and suspicious activity on their credit report, receive identity theft insurance, and obtain access to their credit report.

If you find that your personal information has been used fraudulently, contact local law enforcement immediately.

Tips for Avoiding Scams

  • NEVER email your password, credit card number, secret word, or PIN, as email is not encrypted and should not be considered 100% secure.
  • Choose your passwords carefully and keep them safe. A Web site only confirms that a password is correct, not the identity of the person using it. For more information on creating secure passwords, visit: Password Help.
  • DO NOT provide personal information on a Web site unless you're sure it's legitimately managed by the company with which you're interacting.
  • NEVER click on a link in an email that requests personal information, because criminals can redirect a link to an address other than the one shown. To visit a Web site, always type the address directly into your Web browser.
  • The safest way to update your account information is to go directly to the company's account maintenance Web site. Typically you can visit the company's home page and link it from there.

Recognizing Legitimate EarthLink Requests

EarthLink will NEVER request that you submit your credit card number, password, secret word, PIN, or last four digits of your Social Security number in an email.

Most EarthLink requests will direct you to update your personal information on your "My Account" Web page:

However, there are a few exceptions:

  • EarthLink may ask you to email us contact information (name, email address, mailing address, phone number, etc.).
  • Our phone system, call center representatives, or Live Chat representatives may ask for your password, secret word, PIN, last four digits of your credit card number or last four digits of your Social Security number in order to verify your identity as the account owner, update your account, or troubleshoot a problem. These channels are secure and you are safe complying with the request.

If you receive a request that appears to come from EarthLink, and are not sure if it's legitimate, do not simply ignore it, as doing so may put your account at risk.

Reporting Fraud and Getting Help

If you receive a fraudulent email, please submit it, with full header information, and email source directly to EarthLink:

Upon receipt of your email, our Fraud Department will research the issue and take steps to protect other EarthLink subscribers; such as blocking the email or shutting down any associated fraudulent Web site(s).

EarthLink's Commitment to Fighting Fraud

EarthLink's Fraud Department proactively monitors EarthLink systems for new fraud threats. When fraudulent Web sites are discovered, we block access to them, report the sites to get them shut down as quickly as possible, and notify the authorities.
We are always working with law enforcement agencies to track down and stop Internet criminals and spammers.

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