Recently, I wrote a post about home computer data security since identity thieves use several methods to trick consumers into revealing sensitive personal data. I shared that post with friends, family, and peers, and received several e-mail replies. One common theme in those replies was that many people hadn't activated the anti-phishing software already available on their home computers.
For the unaware, phishing is a technique used by thieves to deceive consumers to submit personal information at a fake e-mail or web site designed to look like an authentic company's web site. The latest version of several browsers includes anti-phishing options. Since I use the Firefox version 2.0 web browser, I have turned on its anti-phishing software feature. To learn more, visit the Wikipedia page or the the Microsoft Anti-Phishing Technologies site.
My anti-virus software from McAfee also includes the Site Advisor Plus anti-phishing software. To learn more, visit the web site of the company that developed your web browser and/or your anti-virus software.
If you have already submitted your personal information to a phishing site, see the Anti-Phishing Working Group site for advice about what to do next. Your next steps depend upon the type of sensitive personal data you disclosed. There is specific advice if you disclosed your credit card number, Social Security number, or checking account number; plus advice if your computer has been infected with a software virus, such as spyware or a key-logger. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse site also provides advice about what to do after a phishing attack.