Go phish: PayPal, others, teach customers which emails to keep and which to throw back

Online payment company PayPal and others that deal with financial information online are engaged in education programs with the idea of keeping consumers from being victims to phishing scams. This week, PayPal sent out a note to customers giving them the head's up to the scams and offering a good amount of educational information to any who will take them up on it.

Chances are if you have email, you've received a note purporting to be from PayPal or perhaps Wells Fargo Bank or even the IRS. Not all the emails are as obviously fake as others. Some scammers have great skills when it comes to duplicating the look of official emails.

Phishing traditionally ranks among the top 10 Internet frauds. It has low overhead and high return from the criminal side. It is essentially a mass email, which pays off when even a handful of the millions who might receive it fall for it.

The crooks behind phishing emails are trying to get you to provide them with personal information that they could later use to steal your money or open lines of credit in your name. The phone emails usually contain links intended to draw you to a look-alike site. The better the illusion, the more likely the victim is to give up what he or she shouldn't.