Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request!
While the Internet has made financial management much easier and more convenient, it has also created a new way for thieves to commit fraud.
‘Phishing’ (pronounced fishing) and ‘Spoofing’ are common methods of online fraud utilizing fake emails, web sites and pop-up windows that appear secure to obtain your sensitive information such as: account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers and other confidential information.
'Smishing' short for SMS Phishing, smishing is a variant of phishing email scams that instead utilizes Short Message Service (SMS) systems to send bogus text messages. Also written as SMiShing, SMS phishing made recent headlines when a vulnerability in the iPhone's SMS text messaging system was discovered that made smishing on the mobile device possible. Click here to learn more.
When your personal information falls into the wrong hands, thieves can use your financial accounts to make unauthorized purchases, take out bank loans, obtain credit cards and even get a driver's license in your name.
Identity theft can damage your financial history and personal reputation and it can take years to rectify. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect your personal information, you can help stop this crime.
Here are a few good rules to follow to avoid becoming a victim of a phishing or spoofing scam:
Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request. Whether it is over the phone or on the Internet. Emails and Internet pages created by phishers can look exactly like the real secure emails and Internet pages they are impersonating. If you did not initiate the communication, do not provide any information.
If you are unsure whether a contact is legitimate, contact the financial institution. You can find phone numbers and websites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look up the company in a phone book or on the Internet. You should be the one to initiate contact, using information you have verified yourself.
Never provide your account information or password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet request. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information or confirm a password online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your money.
Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late arriving or does not arrive, call your financial institution and find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, check your account activity online regularly to catch suspicious activity.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of identity theft or a phishing or spoofing scam, contact your financial institution immediately.