If you are a consumer in today’s market, you are well aware of the threat of identity theft. In order to avoid falling victim, it’s important to understand the most popular way that thieves are preying on your private information.
“Phishing” is an email scam in which con artists masquerade as legitimate companies and send out mass fake emails in hopes that consumers will be deceived and respond with personal bank account information, credit card numbers, passwords, or other sensitive information. The problem with phishing is that these emails look very authentic; many even contain the company logos from genuine websites. In order to fool consumers, these emails pretend to offer concern for customer service by stating changes in policy, updating records, or verifying information. Once you enter your information, thieves use your compromised information for purchases and to obtain credit.
The American Bankers Association has offered some tips to avoid becoming a victim.
- Never give out personal information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax, or email, no matter how official it may seem.
- Do not respond to email that may warn of dire consequences unless you validate your information immediately. Contact the company to confirm the email’s validity using a telephone number or Web address you know to be genuine.
- Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly and look for unauthorized transactions, even small ones. Some thieves hope small transactions will go unnoticed. Report discrepancies immediately.
- When submitting financial information online, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your Internet browser. Also, many secure Internet addresses, though not all, use “https” to signify that your information is secure during transmission.
- Report suspicious activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
- If you have responded to an email, contact your bank immediately so they can protect your account and your identity.