No Phishing Allowed! How to avoid being lured into a phishing scam
Identity thieves have taken up a new sport – phishing! Internet scammers are using fake e-mails and Web sites to fish for consumers’ sensitive personal information. The word "phishing" comes from the analogy that Internet scammers are using email lures to "fish" for passwords and financial data from the sea of Internet users. And unlike some other forms of identity theft where one’s personal information is stolen, in this swindle the victim unwittingly supplies the thieves with exactly what they need to leave the victim reeling from the resulting financial losses.
The FBI has called phishing the hottest and most troubling new scam on the Internet. Many large, reputable businesses and organizations, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and American Banker’s Association, have been fraudulently represented in this scam. Statistics complied by the Anti-Phishing Working Group reveal that although eBay is one of the most commonly hijacked brands, they also highlight the fact that the financial services industry is the most commonly targeted business sector.
In the typical phishing scam, you receive an e-mail supposedly from a company or financial institution you may do business with or from a government agency. These emails can look quite convincing, with company logos and banners copied from actual Web sites and describe a reason you must “update,” "verify" or "re-submit" confidential information — such as bank account and credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) — using a return e-mail, a form linked from a “look-alike” Web site of the real business, or a pop-up message with the name and even the logo of the company or government agency.
Perhaps you are told that your bank account information has been lost or stolen or that limits may be imposed on your account unless you provide additional details. If you comply, the thieves hiding behind the seemingly legitimate Web site or e-mail can use the information to make unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account, pay for online purchases using your credit card, obtain credit, or even sell your personal information to other thieves.
Important: Once provided to us at account opening, we will never initiate contact with you and ask for your Social Security Number or bank account number(s). If you contact us, we may ask you to verify one or more as a means of identification, but we will never call or email you and ask for this information unsolicited. We advise you to never give out your Social Security Number or any account numbers to anyone that you have not initiated contact with first.
To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam, the American Bankers Association offers these tips:
Never give out your personal financial information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax or email, no matter how official it may seem.
Do not respond to email that may warn of dire consequences unless you validate your information immediately. Contact the company to confirm the e-mail’s validity using a telephone number or Web address you know to be genuine.
Promptly review your bank account and credit card statements and look for unauthorized transactions, even small ones. Some thieves hope small transactions will go unnoticed. Investigate and report any discrepancies immediately.
When submitting financial information to a Web site, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your browser, and make sure the Internet address begins with "https." This signals that your information is secure during transmission.
If you believe you have responded to a fraudulent email, contact your bank immediately so they can protect your account and your identity. In addition, call the three major credit bureaus (see Fraud Alert Hotlines) to request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report.