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How To Safeguard Your Money Against Phishing Attacks

RBI, IRDAI, Banks, etc. have all been issuing repeated warnings against Phishing attacks.

I too have cautioned you to diligently protect your hard-earned money, from these online thieves.

And now the Income Tax Department too has notified an alert on this internet scam.

In line with its e-Governance initiatives, the Income Tax Department now routinely communicates with the tax payers via email and SMSs. As is the case with other institutions, this is being targeted by fraudsters to extract highly sensitive and confidential information from the unsuspecting tax payers.

This critical data, especially the financial details, are then (mis)used to dupe and cheat them.

Therefore, to warn people against such dubious and devious emails, the Income Tax Department prominently displays the following advisory on its website:

“The Income Tax Department NEVER asks for your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts through e-mail.

The Income Tax Department appeals to taxpayers NOT to respond to such e-mails and NOT to share information relating to their credit card, bank and other financial accounts.”

Income Tax Department has introduced best practices in all its online communication. This includes SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance). All these protocols, aim to block suspicious emails from unreliable sources. Thus, you are protected as most such fraudulent emails don't reach your inbox.

However, beware!

Be a smart internet user. Don't become a foolish victim of phishing.

If the software developers are smart in developing hard-to-break-in defence mechanisms, hackers too are intelligent and diligent enough to find the loopholes.

As such, despite all precautions, it is possible that some illegal emails may slip through these extensive processes, designed to safeguard you.

This is where you come into the picture. On your part, you too have to be extremely aware and vigilant. 

After all, it is your money, which is at stake.

After all, even if your society has ample security guards, you still keep your doors locked.

So, here's the simple checklist for you, issued by the Income Tax Department.

a. Verify the domain name. If it is a fake email, the IT Dept's website could be misspelt or it could be an incorrect variation of the same.

b. Inspect the email message header by selecting the option ‘Show Original’ (in gmail).

c. Never open any attachments, unless you are 100% sure of the sender's identity and veracity. Most malicious codes are sent through attachments.

d. Further, don't click on the links given in such emails, nor cut and paste them into your browsers.

e. If you have inadvertently clicked on any link given in a suspicious e-mail or phishing website, do not panic. Just close the link. Do not - I repeat - do not input any confidential information on such websites.

f. Neither should you open any emails in the junk / spam folder, nor reply to them.

g. Make sure that the computer you are using, to access the IT Dept's website, has updated antivirus and anti-spyware software along with the firewall.

h. To help the Govt. investigate and block such fraudsters, you must forward all suspicious phishing emails to incident@cert-in.org.in (a Government of India agency mandated to fight against such threats).

Take these preventive steps and you will, in all probability, be adequately protected against phishing attacks and other internet-based frauds.

The article What is Phishing takes a more detailed and comprehensive view of the subject. 

Meanwhile, don't forget to read how Mr. Desai became a victim of phishing attack.

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