PHISHING EXPEDITIONS

Watch out for deepwater fraudsters— prowling like sharks!

Phishing doesn’t use a fishing rod; their “bait” is a set-up to “hook” you. Phishing is no sport, it is a serious and frequent scam involving the use of fraudulent emails and phony copycat websites created to trick you into revealing your confidential personal information such as your bank account, stock, credit cards or Social Security numbers, along with your passwords—–if you bite, you’re cooked!

These con-people go “phishing” to lure their targets with a false sense of security by hijacking the familiar names you know using phony logos of trusted, established companies. Often these scam-artists will send out thousands of emails that appear to come from well-known banks, high profile corporations, financial service providers or internet auction houses. Their bogus emails will ask you to provide confidential information about yourself and/or claim to be verifying data that you previously provided when you started an online account or some other lure-con.

Here are some of the common tactics fraudster phishers use to reel you in:

1. Misuse of legitimate company names and logos in phishing emails.

2. These bogus emails may contain the names of actual personnel that work for the company whose names and graphics are enclosed.

3. The emails can even cleverly contain links to the actual legitimate website of the misused company or to a well “spoofed” website that looks like the real thing.

4. Often the fraudster will use fear to trigger your fast response, such as, “A failure to respond will result in no longer having access to your account”; or, “suspicious activity has been detected on your account”, or that they are implementing new privacy software, or identity theft solutions— All of this is a con to cause you to reveal your confidential information quickly and before you realize you have been conned.

Protect yourself; follow these steps to ensure that neither that you or your accounts will not be “skinned and fried”——–

a) Do not respond to any emails that request personal or financial information, or emails that use any form of pressure tactics. Pick up the phone and call the company, the legitimate company. Look up their phone number in the “phone book”. Do not use any phone numbers listed on the con-artist’s email.

b) If you respond by email, get the correct legitimate email address that belongs to the real company. Never use the email address provided by the fraudster, even if it appears correct.

c) Beef-up your own security. Make sure your computer has the latest security software packages. Watch out for spoofed websites that have all the “padlocks”, etc. Look for the “security certificate” for the site on any suspicious listings.

d) Constantly and thoroughly review your bank, credit cards, and all monthly financial account statements, whether online or as soon as they arrive in the mail. Check all transactions and amounts.

e) Report all phishing emails to the company whose name is misused and also report them to the FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center. (www.ic3.gov).

Here are some additional scams alerts to be aware of:

> Slick lenders with bad grammar

> Get rich quick schemes

> Debt Free schemes to eradicate your debts

> Too-good-to-be-true cheap houses that can be bought with nothing down

> Phony job services and offers

> Bogus reconfirmation requests of your online passwords

> IRS refund scams

> Fake letter/email regarding investigations of any kind

> Alluring “Big Check” awards

> Social networking predators — viruses galore!

> You-tube cons— advertising products, services, etc.

Always remember, don’t open any unknown email attachments, no matter how inviting or urgent they seem! On top of the problems you and your accounts can acquire, your computer may receive an infected file. Simple: do not connect with people you don’t actually know; never give out any of your personal information or your email/phone numbers. Finally, stay alert, install the best and latest security software and keep it updated. Again, always remember, if it’s too good to be true, it is; and there are no free lunches, dinners or breakfasts!

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