“Phishing” attempts (e-mails that try to get your personal information) are often combined with “spoofing attacks” in which thieves send e-mails with links to websites that appear to come from trusted sources.
Phishing scams increase during times of anxiety, particularly when environmental disasters or economic worries dominate the news. Thieves prey on the anxiety these topics can generate. Scams are created to take advantage by sending e-mails that can look very legitimate or timely.
One example that has resurfaced since it first appeared in January is purported to come from the American Bankers Association (ABA) and looks like this:
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: An unauthorized transaction billed to your bank account.
- Amount of transaction: $16786.54
- Transaction ID: 9570-5892634
- (transaction report attached)
The fake e-mail contains a link to a very realistic site that looks like the American Bankers Association website—but it is an attempt to hijack your personal financial information.
Another phishing incident currently circulating appears to come from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in an e-mail that states: “you need to check your Bank Deposit Insurance Coverage.” It, too, is false and misleading.
Protect Your Information and Stay Informed
Phishing e-mails are designed to make you panic or respond without thinking. Be sure to take these precautions:
- Never click on a link in an e-mail. If you are not sure about the originating website address, look up the name of the institution online (in Yahoo or Google) for the web address.
- Call first – but don’t use the phone number in the email – it could be fake as well. Look up the contact info online.
- Be guarded, especially if you are asked to respond right away with your FULL Social Security Number or date of birth.
- Stay informed. Agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection offer news and information on what to do and how to report suspicious e-mails.