Phishing and Smishing, two ways crooks try to reel in your private financial information. While the names might sound silly, the stuff they're after is serious. Phishing uses email to fish for personal information, while smishing uses text messages to your phone. These identity thieves want to steal your private information. Credit card numbers, passwords, bank account information or your Social Security number. It might be an email asking you to validate your account immediately or it will be frozen, or a text message that says your service will be shut down. It's not always bad news, they might tell you you're a grand prize winner. Once they trick you out of your information, they can use it to make purchases in your name, take out loans, and ruin your credit. Don't take the bait. You can protect yourself by following some simple rules. Never respond to an email or text asking for confidential information, even if it appears urgent. And don't click on any link or call any number included within the message. Instead, use a verified phone number or website address. One found on the back of your credit card or provided on your statement. Feel free to use email or text messages, they're a great means of communication But always be on the lookout for those that are using tools to gather confidential information.