Phishing is a type of identity theft that occurs online when scam artists steal personal information from consumers by creating fraudulent website pages. Phishers send emails that appear to come from companies you may do business with such as financial institutions or credit card companies or from the federal government or another regulatory agency.
These emails typically warn that you need to update your information or request that you take immediate action regarding one of your accounts. When you click on the link or icon they provided in the email, 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.
NOTE: The same tips apply to “vishing” which is when the scam artists use the phone and speak to you or leave a number to call. Either way, if they ask for your Social Security number, account number, password, or PIN, it’s a SCAM!
If you think you’ve been a victim of an Identity Theft or fraud scam, here are the steps you should take:
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 the thieves from opening new accounts in your name.
Major Credit Bureaus:
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 fraud activity to the Federal Trade Commission atwww.consumer.gov/idtheft or call (877) IDTHEFT.
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