Informed and vigilant consumers have probably gone through a number of steps to protect their personal information by becoming familiar with the common threats.
Phishers try to collect "usernames, passwords and credit card data by posing as a legitimate, trusted party." Almost everyone can relate to getting an email from a trusted email address (perhaps, an online banking or social networking site) asking users to confirm their login information.
Most security software and browsers will alert users of the fact that a site contains potentially harmful or malicious content, which has prompted these criminals to come up with a new approach - fake antivirus products. We recently wrote about how this manifested on the New York Times website, which is an indication of how common the problem is becoming.
Another tactic being used is the fake "online chat" option promising customer service assistance over the internet. Criminals posing as real customer service representatives have been duping people into divulging personal information by saying that they are using it to confirm the account holder's identity.
PC World offered some great tips for staying safe in today's ever-changing online world. Among the suggestions are using strong browser, malware-resistant platforms including Mac OS and Linux, using anti-malware software, and ensuring that your software is up-to-date.
Of course, it's important to trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, err on the side of caution.
image: Flickr/Creative Commons