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Consumers Warned to Avoid Fake E-mails Tied to Bank Mergers

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Alert concerning Bank Phishing

Online scammers are taking advantage of tough economic times. While e-mails phishing for sensitive data are nothing new, scammers are taking advantage of upheavals in the financial marketplace to confuse consumers into parting with valuable personal information.

The Federal Trade Commission urges caution regarding e-mails that look as if they come from a financial institution that recently acquired a consumer’s bank, savings and loan, or mortgage. In fact, these messages may be from “phishers” looking to use personal information – account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers – to run up bills or commit other crimes in a consumer’s name.

Consumers are warned not to take the bait. The FTC has advice about how to stay on guard against this type of scam. To learn more, see the consumer alert “Bank Failures, Mergers and Takeovers: A ‘Phish-erman’s Special,’” at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt089.shtm.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit http://www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam

– Don’t reply to an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, and don’t click on links in the message – even if it appears to be from your bank. Don’t cut and paste a link from the message into your Web browser, either. Phishers can make links look like they go one place, but actually redirect you to another.

– Some scammers call with a recorded message, or send an email that appears to be from an institution, and ask you to call a phone number to update your account. Because they use Voice over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers are. To reach an institution you do business with, call the number on your financial statements.

– Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them regularly.

– Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure way to send sensitive information.

– Review your financial account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges.

– Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer’s security.

– Forward phishing emails to spam@uce.gov – and to the institution or company impersonated in the phishing email. You also may report phishing email to reportphishing@antiphishing.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.

– If you’ve been scammed, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft for important information on next steps to take.

Source and tips: FTC.gov

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October 12, 2008 - Posted by | Advisories, Alerts, Malware, News, Recommended External Security Related Links, Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

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