No fooling; on April 1, Internet marketing giant Epsilon announced that its confidential data had been breached.  Epsilon sends about 100 million emails every day on behalf of customers like JP Morgan, Target, and Best Buy.  The compromised data appears to be limited to names and email addresses of people who do business with Epsilon’s customers.  If you have given your email address to any of the following, you may be affected:  AbeBooks, Ameriprise Financial, Barclays Bank of Delaware, Best Buy, Brookstone, Capital One, Citi, The College Board, Disney Destinations, Hilton Hotels, Home Shopping Network, JPMorgan Chase, Kroger, LL Bean, Marriott Rewards, McKinsey & Company, New York & Company, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Target, TiVo, US Bank, Verizon, or Walgreens. 

The most likely result of this breach is an onslaught of phishing emails.  Phishing is the term we use for an identity thief’s attempts, usually through email, to steal your identity or other sensitive information.  They do this by inducing you to visit a fake web site that looks very similar to your bank or some other institution’s site.  If you visit that site and log in or make a credit card transaction, the thief captures that information and can use it for nefarious purposes.

If the phishers know your name, email address, and where you like to shop or bank, they have powerful tools to deceive you, steal your personal information, and use that information to make financial transactions with your money.  In light of this it is important that you protect yourself and know the signs of phishing. 

How to Protect Yourself from Phishing

  • Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal or financial information.
  • Don’t use the links in an email to get to any web page if you suspect the message might not be authentic.  Instead, log onto the website directly by typing the web address in your browser. 
  • Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information. 
  • Always ensure that you’re using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your web browser. 
  • Do not use web sites if your web browser displays warnings about their security certificates. 
  • Review your credit card and bank statements as soon as you receive them.

Much more valuable information about protecting yourself from Phishing can be found at the Anti-Phishing Working Group’s web site.

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