Many of these email schemes contain links to “look-alike” websites that are loaded with actual trademarked images. The websites then instruct consumers to “reenter” their credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank PINs, or other personal information. If consumers actually provide the information requested, the data goes to scammers, not the legitimate company whose name is on the site. Thereafter, the data is often used to order goods or services and/or to obtain credit in the name of the consumer.
Caution should always be used when receiving any unsolicited communication requesting personal information. We offer the following tips for people that receive emails as described above:
- Be skeptical of warnings that accounts will be shut down with little or no notice if you don’t reconfirm your billing information.
- Don’t click on the link — contact the company directly using a telephone number or a website address you know is real.
- Look at the “address bar” at the top of the browser – not just the pictures on a web page – it is often a different domain name than the firm being represented in the email or webpage.
- When submitting financial information on any website, look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar to be sure your information is secure during transmission.
- Avoid sending personal and/or financial information via email whenever possible.
- If you’ve given person information, consider the following:
- Carefully check credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges each month.
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and report that sensitive financial information has been compromised. Ask that a “fraud alert” be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
- If your financial accounts have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact each company’s security department. Close these accounts. Put passwords (not your mother’s maiden name) on any new accounts you open.
- If your financial information is used for illicit purposes, file a report with your local police or the police where the identity theft took place and get a copy of the report.