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Pharming is one of the more difficult types of online fraud to detect.  And, the results of pharming can be devastating to your finances and your identity. 

How Pharming Works

In a pharming scam, traffic intended for one website is redirected to a fraudulent online address.  You can unknowingly become part of a pharming fraud in one of two ways.  First you can be "pharmed" by visiting unfamiliar websites where hackers alter the host files on your computer while you're visiting.  You can also be pharmed if a server connected to your computer is compromised and allows your personal online account information to be hacked.

What Pharming Does

Like phishing, pharming is most often used to steal important personal information that can be used later to commit identity theft. 

How To Know If You've Been Pharmed

Indications that you may have been a pharming victim include:

  • unfamiliar charges to your credit cards
  • unauthorized bank transactions on your statements
  • unexpected bills from organizations you don't know or do business with
  • out of the ordinary online solicitations

How To Avoid Being Pharmed

The following tips can help you protect yourself from pharming:

  • Check the IP address window on your computer as you are being directed to a website.  If it looks unfamiliar, or contains a long URL string ending in a foreign country code, don't go to the site.
  • Check your credit card and bank statements carefully each month for unfamiliar or unexpected transactions.
  • Don't give out personal information, such as account numbers, online unless you know who you are dealing with and you are in a secure site area (indicated by https:// ).