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Beware of Phishing

What is phishing?

Phishing is a type of identity theft that occurs online. Scam artists steal personal information from consumers by creating fraudulent Internet pages. The damage inflicted by these "phishers" can hurt your reputation and damage your credit rating for years to come.

How phishing occurs

"Phishers" send e-mails that appear to come from reputable sources, such as financial institutions or credit card companies. Some e-mails appear to come from the federal government or another regulatory agency. These e-mails typically warn that you need to update your information or request that you take immediate action regarding one of your accounts. They tell you to click on an icon or link to be directed to the institution's website. Here is where the scam comes in. When you click on the link or icon, you are directed to a phony webpage that looks very similar to the actual site for that institution, often incorporating identical logos and hyperlinks. Or you are directed to the real website and a pop-up window quickly appears in front of the home page. This window is created by the scam artists. The webpage or pop-up window directs you to type in personal information, such as your account number, password or Social Security number. If you provide this information, it goes directly to the crooks- not to the company with whom you transact business. Then they are able to access your accounts.

How to prevent becoming a victim of phishing:

  1. Never respond to unsolicited requests for personal information.
    • Financial institutions and credit card companies will not ask you to verify this information by phone or online.
  2. Contact the company yourself if
    • The message appears to be from a company you deal with, close the e-mail and log on to your account directly. Call the company using contact information that you know to be accurate. Do not use the information provided in the email.
  3. Review all financial statements closely
    • Ensure all transactions displayed were actually made by you.
  4. Request your credit report
    • from the three credit bureaus at least once a year, review the accounts and payment histories closely

What to do if you're a victim of phishing:

  1. Contact your financial institution and let them know that your account information may have been compromised.
  2. Contact the three major credit bureaus and request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit file. This will prevent Internet thieves from opening new accounts in your name.
    Equifax (800) 525-6285 P.O. Box 740250 Atlanta, GA 30374
    Experian (888) 397-3742 P.O. Box 1017 Allen, TX 75013
    TransUnion (800) 680-7289 P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92634
  3. Report all phishing activity to the Federal Trade Commission at (877) IDTHEFT.
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