Protecting Yourself from Online
Bogus emails are frequently sent
to consumers for the sole purpose of stealing personal and financial
information. Fraudsters may also include links in an email that
direct individuals to bogus websites which also attempt to gather
sensitive personal information from unsuspecting website visitors.
These attempts to steal personal
and financial information are referring to as "Phishing" or "fishing"
scams. Phishing scams are usually delivered in the form of a
cleverly disguised legitimate e-mails
claiming to be from sources you trust, such as your bank, your credit card
company, e-bay, pay-pal, regulators such as the FDIC, and various law
enforcement agencies. These phony emails attempt to entice you to
provide various types of personal and confidential information, such as
your bank account number, your SSN, your PIN number, your mother's maiden
name, your Internet banking passcodes, etc. Criminals use the
collected information to access deposit accounts, apply for online access,
open new accounts, loans and/or credit cards.
How to Recognize Phishing
Financial Institution X
will never ask for personal or financial information from our
customers through an email message, but recognizing phishing attempts is not always easy. The criminals are
becoming more creative and sophisticated in making bogus emails and
websites look legitimate. Most of these phony emails include the
General greetings (e.g. Dear valued Bank Customer);
Urgent or threatening appeals (e.g." Please contact us
immediately regarding your account").
Links that take you to a bogus website and/or pop-up
window asking you to provide sensitive personal, financial or account
Sometimes times a link in a bogus email may actually
take you to a legitimate website, but in these cases, a pop-up message may
appear that requests your personal information. Some of these emails may
also include unfamiliar return addresses and/or mispellings and/or
Tips for Online
As a general rule you should
always be careful about giving out your personal financial information
over the Internet.
Always be wary of any email asking for your personal
Never provide personal financial information,
including your Social Security Number, account numbers, or passwords
over the phone or the Internet if you did not initiate the contact.
Never click on a link in an
email, especially if you think it may be fraudulent.
If you believe the contact maybe
legitimate, visit the company's website by typing in the site address
directly or using a previously saved bookmark instead of clicking on an
embedded email link.
Be wary of unsolicited emails from any source.
Don't be intimidated by threatening emails.
Be cautious about opening any
attachments or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless
of who sent them.
Always be certain to whom you are providing personal
or financial information. Contact the sender using a
telephone number you know to be genuine.
Look for a secure connection on Web sites asking for personal or
account information, normally indicated by the presence of "https://" in
your browser's address bar.
Always sign off Web sites or secure areas of Web sites (for
example, Internet Banking)
Avoid using public computers to check online accounts.
Regularly log into your online
accounts to check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure
that all transactions are legitimate.
Use anti-virus software and keep
Make sure you have applied the
latest security patches for your computer. Most software
providers, like Microsoft, offer free security
If you have broad-band Internet
access (e.g. cable modem or DSL) make sure that you have a
Consider using pop-up blocker and software that
detects spyware on your computer.
If you think you may have provided personal or account
information in response to a fraudulent e-mail or Web site, contact us
Phishing is becoming one of the leading causes of identity
theft. Please be careful with whom you share your personal