Phishing is one of the fastest-growing scams on the Internet, 10News reported.
Con artists are using computers to scam you out of your private information.
For Internet savvy consumers like Tony Renna, spotting scams is nothing new. He was suspicious about an e-mail from his credit card company.
"It looks like it came from Citibank," Renna said about the e-mail. "And it had all the markings that it was from Citibank."
The e-mail asked for Renna's account number and password. He called Citibank to see if the e-mail was legitimate and quickly found out it wasn't.
"They said that Citibank would never ask for the card number and the PIN at the same time," Renna said.
The scam is called phishing and the catch of the day is a consumer's personal information. PINs, passwords and account numbers are hot commodities for con artists. According to the Web site www.antiphishing.org
, phishers convince about 5 percent of e-mail recipients to divulge their personal information.
Jordana Beebe, of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
, said credit card companies like First Bank and Citibank are spoofed frequently, as are popular sites like eBay and PayPal.
Some phishing e-mails make the demand for information seem urgent. But if it's questionable whether or not the e-mail is legitimate, it's not worth risking your private information.
"The best thing to do when you receive an e-mail like that is to ignore it," Beebe said. "If a company is actually going to cut off your account in 72 hours, you'll find out in 72 hours whether it was legitimate or not."
Determining whether or not an e-mail is authentic or a fraud is tough. The e-mails are clever and look like the real thing.
"They make them look as real as possible so often they'll incorporate graphics from the site they're lifting that from," said Beebe. "Sometimes they'll even have Web site addresses that go to the site they're spoofing on the e-mail."
To fight phishing scams, change your PIN numbers and passwords frequently. Check your credit card statements often to ensure that no one else has access to your information. Many scammers don't use the stolen information right away. Keep computer software up to date. Many phishing e-mails reach your inbox because your anti-spam programs are outdated.
If a scam e-mail does get through, don't open it or respond. Instead, forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
. The National Consumers' League
also wants to hear from consumers whose personal information has been phished.
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