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Online Security & Alerts

How Not to Get Hooked by a "Phishing" Scam An FTC Consumer Alert

Internet scammers casting about for people’s financial information have a new way to lure unsuspecting victims: They go “phishing.”

Phishing, also called “carding”, is a high-tech scam that uses spam to deceive consumers into disclosing their credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the emails pretend to be from businesses the potential victims deal with – for example, their Internet service provider (ISP), online payment service or bank. The fraudsters tell recipients that they need to “update” or “validate” their billing information to keep their accounts active, and direct them to a “look-alike” website of the legitimate business, further tricking consumers into thinking they are responding to a bona fide request. Unknowingly, consumers submit their financial information – not to the businesses – but the scammers, who use it to order goods and services and obtain credit.

To avoid getting caught by one of these scams, the FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, offers this guidance:

  • If you get an e-mail that warns you, with little or no notice, that an account of yours will be shut down unless you reconfirm your billing information, do not reply or click on the link in the e-mail. Instead, contact the company cited in the e-mail using a telephone number or website address you know to be genuine.
  • Avoid emailing personal and financial information. Before submitting financial information through a website, look for the "lock" icon on the browser’s status bar. It signals that your information is secure during transmission.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as your receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Report suspicious activity to the FTC. Send the actual spam via e-mail to spam@uce.gov.
  • Please visit the following for additional information:

The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit the FTC website listed above or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP.


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