Phishing is a form of Internet piracy. It’s an attempt to fraudulently acquire your personal or financial information – such as passwords, bank and credit card account details – by posing as a trustworthy person or business.
Phishing involves fraudulent e-mails that are sent to consumers, under the guise of recognized financial institutions, corporate companies, or “personalized” e-mail letters from overseas banks. These e-mails ask for personal information such as bank account, credit card, and Social Security numbers. Often there are direct links to false websites that look like the real thing. Though some Internet scams are obvious, these fraud attempts are becoming more convincing. Trusted bank names are being used, fooling you in to divulging information that can lead to having your entire savings wiped out and your identity taken.
By following simple guidelines and using caution, you can avoid the possibility of having your personal information stolen.
- A genuine financial institution will not send you an e-mail asking for account or credit card information.
- Do not respond to any e-mail or phone requests for personal information. Delete any questionable e-mail, and do not click on the links provided.
- Utilize the resources online to report phishing scams.
- Be aware. Most phishing scams are fairly obvious, containing glaring grammatical and spelling errors, offers of millions of dollars, or threats to your credit record.
- Get copies of your credit report annually to make sure you’re the only one using your information.
Report suspect e-mail to: antiphishing.org, or to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. To file a complaint with the FTC, go to ftc.gov/idtheft or call 877-FTC-HELP.
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