Every day, many Americans receive fraudulent emails that direct recipients to websites where they are asked to verify and input sensitive personal information. The websites to which the email recipients are directed are often very similar, if not actual clones of both official government sites as well as bank sites.
The emails are part of a scam known as "phishing." Phishing is the fraudulent scheme of sending an email to a user claiming to be a legitimate company. The email directs the user to visit a website where they are asked to update personal information, such as name, account and credit card numbers, passwords, social security numbers and other information. The website, however, is not genuine and set up only to steal the user's information to be used for identity theft.
In an effort to fight identity theft, we want to assure our customers that we do not communicate with customers by email requesting important personal information such as your name, account numbers, date of birth, social security number.
How to Protect Yourself
Consumers can protect themselves from any identity theft scam by following these useful tips, developed by the Federal Trade Commission:
- If you get an email that warns you that an account of yours will be shut down unless you confirm your billing information, do not reply or click on the link in the email. Instead, contact the company cited in the email using a telephone number or website address you know to be genuine.
- Avoid emailing personal and financial information. Before submitting financial information through a website, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar. It signals that your information is secure during transmission.
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
- Report suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Send the actual spam to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft Website to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from identity theft. www.OnGuardOnline.gov also provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.
The Treasury and federal financial regulators are working hard to combat identity theft, however, all consumers must take reasonable precautions in the use of their own personal financial information in order to help prevent themselves from becoming victims of identity thieves.