Beware hoax emails
About E-Mail Fraud
What is Phishing?
Phishing (pronounced "fishing") refers to fraudulent communications
designed to deceive consumers into divulging personal, financial,
or account information, including account user name and password,
credit card information, and social security number. E-mail is most
commonly used for phishing due to its low cost, greater anonymity
for the sender, the ability to reach a large target group instantly,
and the potential to solicit an immediate response. However, fraudsters
have also used online pop-up windows, direct mail and phone calls.
Phishing e-mails often appear to come from legitimate financial
institutions, ebay, Paypal, insurance companies or retailers. Techniques
such as a false "from" address, the use of seemingly authentic logos
from financial institutions, or Web links and graphics may be used
to mislead consumers into believing that they are dealing with a
legitimate request for personal information. These fraudulent e-mails
often create a false sense of urgency intended to provoke the recipient
to take immediate action; for example, phishing e-mails frequently
instruct recipients to "validate" or "update" account information
or face cancellation.
How to Protect Your Personal Information
Fraudsters often create a sense of urgency to provoke you to take
action immediately. There is no need to respond instantly to an
e-mail request. First, consider carefully whether the business in
question would have sent you the request. If you are in doubt as
to whether or not an e-mail is legitimate, do not respond to
it. If the questionable e-mail offers a link asking you to provide
personal information on a web page, do not click on the link,
even if it looks genuine. In any cases of uncertainty, a safe alternative
is to contact the company in question directly through familiar
communications channels, such as the phone number provided on a
billing statement or credit card. You can also log into the secure
message center of the company's website. In all likelihood, phishing
will continue to evolve into the use of more sophisticated tactics.
For this reason, it is important to always think twice before you
provide any personal information.