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Phishing

Don’t Get Hooked by a Phishing Scam

"We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity."

Most of us have received a message similar to the one above, from someone who claims to be a company or organization with which you do business. The message may ask you to update, confirm, or validate account information, and threaten you with severe consequences if you don’t act right away.

While it may seem like a legitimate request, chances are it's a scam referred to as "phishing" — and it involves internet thieves looking to lure personal information (credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information) from unsuspecting victims.

As scary as these scams may seem, there are ways to protect yourself.

  • If you get an email message that asks for personal or financial information, don’t reply. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number that you know is genuine.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the internet without your knowledge.
  • Don't email personal or financial information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure").
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer's security.
If you believe you've been scammed:
  • Contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately to freeze your accounts.
  • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
  • Then visit the FTC's identity theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft. While you can't completely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk.
  • You also may report phishing email to reportphishing@antiphishing.org.