"Phishing," latest craze among online evil-doers, has nothing to do with sitting at end of a dock on a sunny afternoon dangling a worm to entice hungry catfish.
But, if you take their bait, this new breed of online con artist will hook you, reel you in, and take you for every dollar you have... or worse.
"Phishing" describes a combination of techniques used by cyber crooks to bait people into giving up sensitive personal data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth and more.
Their techniques work so well that, according to FraudWatchInternational.com, "phishing" rates as fastest growing scam on Internet.
Here's basic pattern for a "phishing" scam...
You receive a very official email that appears to originate from a legitimate source, such as a bank, eBay, PayPal, a major retailer, or some other well known entity.
In email it tells you that something bad is about to happen unless you act quickly.
Typically it tells you that your account is about to get closed, that someone appears to have stolen your identity, or even that someone opened a fraudulent account using your name.
In order to help straighten everything out, you need to click a link in email and provide some basic account information so they can verify your identity and then give you additional details so you can help get everything cleared up.
Once you give up your information... it's all over but crying!
After getting your information, these cyber-bandits can empty your bank accounts, deplete your PayPal accounts, run up your credit card balances, open new credit accounts, assume your identity and much worse.
An especially disturbing new variation of this scam specifically targets online business owners and affiliate marketers.
In this con, scammer's email informs you that they've just sent $1,219.43 (or a similar big but believable amount) in affiliate commissions to you via PayPal.
They need you to log into your PayPal account to verify receipt of money and then email them back to confirm you got it.
Since you're so excited at possibility of an unexpected pay day, you click link to go to PayPal, log in, and BANG! They have your PayPal login information and can empty your account.