Aesop was a slave and storyteller who lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 B.C. His fables are some of the most well known in the world, due in great part to the morals taught in them. Many a child has received an education on right and wrong by hearing one of Aesop's Fables.
Aesop's tales include such famous yarns as "The Fox and the Grapes," "The Tortoise and the Hare," "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," and "The Ant and the Grasshopper."
Aesop was known for taking a common, everyday occurrence and making it into something that taught a universal great truth, concluding each story with advice about whether to do or not do the act the story centered around.
But there are those who think that Aesop didn't write all of the tales he's been attributed, while others argue that he never even existed.
Whether or not he existed or wrote all of the fables, Aesop's tales can still teach us much. Take, for example, the story of "The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing."
In this story, a wolf has difficulty getting at the sheep he drooled over day after day, because of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day, the wolf found a sheep's skin that had been flayed and thrown aside, and he put it on and strolled down among the sheep.
The lamb that belonged to the slain sheep began to follow the wolf. The wolf led the little lamb away from the flock, and devoured her. He continued this practice for some time, enjoying hearty meals.
The moral: Appearances can be deceptive.
This is true in life, and it's certainly true in identity theft, particularly when it comes to phishing. Phishing is the practice of using legitimate-looking Web sites to convince unsuspecting surfers to click on the sites in the hopes of obtaining the needed personal information to commit identity theft.
For example: You receive an e-mail from your bank, telling you that you're overdrawn. There's a link to take you to the bank's Web site, so you click on it, and a new window opens. The newly-opened site looks legitimate, and so you continue. You are asked to enter your personal and financial information – and once you've done so, you've been had.
The lesson here is that even if a site looks legitimate, it could be a "wolf in sheep's clothing." If you receive an e-mail that looks suspicious, whether from a retailer, private organization, bank or credit card issuer, don't click on it. Instead, contact the organization directly, and ask whether an e-mail was sent to you.
Don't assume that you can tell the difference. Thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated, and are doing a better job of creating legitimate-looking sites. The best rule of thumb is this: when in doubt, don't.
Don't follow the wolf in sheep's clothing; instead, follow your own gut instinct.