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Phishing Scams: Don't Take the Bait

Internet phishing scams, like other forms of fraud, prey on the unwary.

Phishing con artists claim to be from a reputable company and send out thousands of fake emails and fake webpage images in hopes that consumers will respond with account information, credit card numbers, passwords or other sensitive information. This information can then be used by the thieves to order goods and services or obtain credit.

A phishing email can look quite convincing with company logos and banners copied from actual, legitimate websites. Often, they will tell recipients that his or her security procedure has changed or that he or she needs to update (or validate) personal information and the recipients will be directed to a lookalike website. Phishing attempts may also try to impart a sense of urgency to get recipients to respond before thinking through the situation.

Consumers should be vigilant. For more information on phishing, visit any of the following:

Tips to Thwart Phishing

  • Never give out personal financial information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax or email, no matter how official it may seem.
  • Do not respond to emails that may warn of dire consequences, unless you validate your information immediately. Contact the company to confirm the email's validity using a telephone number or web address you know to be genuine.
  • Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly and look for unauthorized transactions, even small ones. Some thieves hope small transactions will go unnoticed. Report discrepancies immediately.
  • When submitting financial information online, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your Internet browser. Also, many secure Internet addresses, though not all, use "https" to signify that your information is secure during transmission.
  • Report suspicious activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.