Phishing is when identity thieves try to trick you into revealing account numbers, pin numbers, passwords or other personal information by pretending to be someone they’re not. Phishing attempts can come by phone, email or a pop-up message.
Anyone can send fake emails or build fake websites pretending to be your bank, retailer or government agency. Never assume information you receive in an “official capacity” is real. It is much more likely to be a scam.
Phishers may ask you to confirm your personal information for some made-up reason: your account is about to be closed, an order has been placed in your name, or your information has been lost because of a computer problem. Or they may ask to verify your information because they suspect you may be a victim of identity theft.
Banks and businesses never call or email to verify or update your passwords or account numbers. Never reveal these by phone or email. Report such instances to your institutions.
Some more tips to avoid phishing scams:
- Phishing emails may have phony looking company logos or misspellings.
- If you get an email asking for your personal information, don’t click on any links or open any attachments. Instead, contact the company by phone to check it out. Use a reputable phone number, not the number supplied in the email.
- Another way to check out a suspicious email message: search online for the Internet address of your bank or other institution, and compare it to the address from which the email originated. If they are at all different, then the email may be a scam.
- Don’t enter your information in pop-up screens. They may be planted on legitimate websites by scammers.
- Keep your Windows and Internet browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) up to date.
- Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer and keep them up to date.
- Always protect your social security number. Never send it by email and be extremely cautious about entering it on a website.
To report phishing emails, forward them to: email@example.com