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Don't Get Caught by Phishing Scams on the Internet!

There's a new Internet scam on the horizon that you need to know about to protect your financial security and even your own identity. It's called "phishing," and it's a high-tech scan that tricks you into divulging all sorts of personal information-everything from your social security number to bank account information to passwords is at risk.

Don't get caught by "phishers" looking for your personal information on the Internet. Read the tips from the FTC below now!

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that "phishers" send e-mails or pop-up messages to your computer claiming to be from an organization that you do business with. Phishers could be disguised as your bank or even a government agency.

Once they gain your trust by appearing as a "known" organization, they ask you to update or validate your account information. When you do, the phishers have access to your most personal information-that you gave directly to them! Phishers may then use your information to:

  • Make unauthorized purchases with your credit card
  • Use in an identity theft scam
  • Sell to identity theft rings

Three Common Phishing Scams

In this recent "phishing" scam, victims thought they were being sent an e-mail from Citibank. They were then asked to give out their checking account, debit card and ATM numbers. (Click to View Full Size)

One recent phishing scam involved Citibank. Victims were sent an e-mail with the following subject line: CITI BANK EMAIL Verification - They were then directed to a fake Web site, that looked remarkably authentic, and asked to "login" by giving their:

  • Debit card number
  • Checking account number
  • ATM pin

Another scam involved the popular Internet site Paypal. Victims were sent an authentic-looking e-mail that said it was from "The Paypal Account Review Department." They were then redirected to a fake, but again real-looking, Web site and asked to "verify" their credit and debit card information.

A third, similar, scam involved eBay. Victims were sent an e-mail with the subject line: eBay Account Verification Email. They were then sent to a fake Web site that looked remarkably like eBay's and asked to submit their social security numbers, credit and debit card information and ATM pin numbers for a "security update."

How to Avoid Being Caught by Phishers

The FTC offers these tips to help you protect your identity and finances from Internet thieves:

  • Never give personal or financial information out via e-mail or pop-up message. Legitimate organizations won't ask you to do this by e-mail.

  • Don't send personal or financial information over e-mail-it's not a secure way to transmit sensitive information.

  • Be sure that a company's Web site is secure (there may be a lock icon on the status bar, for instance) before conducting business online. No indicator is fool-proof, however.

  • If you're in doubt, contact the organization by phone, using a number you know is reliable, and ask about your account.

  • Review credit card and bank statements for unauthorized changes or transactions.

  • Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date.

  • Be wary of downloading any attachments or files from e-mails, even if they're from someone you think is reliable.

  • Report suspicious activity to the FTC. Spam mail that is requesting information can be forwarded to

  • If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at

  • The FTC's Identity Theft Web site at offers great tips on how to lessen your risk of falling prey to an identity theft scam.


Federal Trade Commission: How Not to Get Hooked by a Phishing Scam

Fraud Watch International

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