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How to Avoid Phishing Scams in Windows 8

Windows 8 employs several safeguards to thwart phishing scams. There's an entire ugly industry built around phishing, the practice of sending e-mails to unsuspecting victims and tricking them into entering their usernames and passwords.

  • When you first run Internet Explorer, make sure its SmartScreen filter is turned on by clicking the Tools icon (shown in the margin) and choosing Safety from the top menu. When the Safety menu appears, look for an entry called Turn on SmartScreen Filter. If you spot it, select it. That turns the important filter back on.

  • Internet Explorer compares a website’s address with a list of known phishing sites. If it finds a match, the SmartScreen filter keeps you from entering. Should you ever spot that screen, close the web page.

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So, why can’t the authorities simply arrest those people responsible? Because Internet thieves are notoriously difficult to track down and prosecute. The reach of the Internet lets them work from any place in the world.

  • If you’ve already entered your name and password into a phishing site, take action immediately: Visit the real website and change your password. Then contact the company involved and ask it for help. It may be able to stop the thieves before they wrap their electronic fingers around your account.

  • If you’ve entered credit card information, call the card’s issuer immediately. You’ll almost always find a toll-free, 24-hour phone number on the back of your credit card.

  • You can warn Microsoft if you spot a site that smells suspiciously like phish. Choose Tools→Safety→Report Unsafe Website from Internet Explorer’s menu bar. Internet Explorer takes you to Microsoft’s SmartScreen Filter website to report the evil doer. Telling Microsoft of suspected phishing sites helps the company warn other visitors.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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