Phishing Scam

There’s a new type of Internet piracy called ‘phishing’ (pronounced ‘fishing’). That’s exactly what’s happening. Internet thieves are ‘phishing’ for your personal account information – account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc. – so that they can commit fraud and leave you holding the bag. If you understand how it works and take steps to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.

Here’s how it works:

In a typical case, you’ll receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the e-mail may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.

The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires immediate action. It may use phrases, such as “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.” The e-mail will then encourage you to click on a button or a web address link to go to the institution’s website.

In a ‘phishing’ scam, you could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual website. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information.

In either case you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.

If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.

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