Scams and Phishing

Phishing is a scam that uses spam or pop-up messages.  The scam attempts to mislead you into releasing your confidential information.  Phishing is imitating legitimate companies in e-mails to entice people to share passwords or credit card numbers.

Spoofing is pretending to be something it is not, on the Internet, usually an e-mail or a Web site.

How to report Phishing:

  • Forward e-mail to www.antiphishing.org
  • Forward e-mail to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov
  • Forward the e-mail to the “abuse” e-mail address at the company that is being spoofed ( e.g., pages.ebay.com).
  • When forwarding spoofed messages, always include the entire original e-mail with its original header information intact.
  • Notify the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI by filing a complaint on their Web site: www.ic3.gov

Recommended Actions if You've become a Victim of a Phishing Scam

If you have given out your credit, debit or ATM card information:

  • Report the event to the card issuer as quickly as possible
  • Using toll-free numbers and 24-hour services that most companies have established to deal with such emergencies.
  • Request to have your card closed, and reissue you a new card with a different number.
  • Watch your account activity and review account statements carefully after the information loss.
  • If any unauthorized charges appear, call the card issuer immediately and follow up with a hard copy letter via a traditional delivery service such as the U.S. Postal Service. ( keep a copy for yourself) describing each questionable charge.

Credit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges

Your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is generally $50.  However, that $50 potential liability probably does not apply for unauthorized telephone and Internet transactions because there is “no means to identify the card holder” in those cases.

ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges

  • Your liability under Federal law for unauthorized use of your ATM or debit card depends on how quickly you report the loss.
  • You risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your bank statement containing unauthorized use is mailed to you for transactions made after that 60 day period.

If you have given out your Bank Account Information

  • Report the theft of this information to the bank as quickly as possible.
  • Request your bank close the compromised account and re-open a like account with a different number.

If you have downloaded a Virus or “Trojan Horse”

Some phishing attacks use viruses and/ or “Trojan Horses” to install programs called “key loggers” on your computer. These programs capture and send out any information that you type to the phisher, including credit card numbers, user names, passwords, Social Security numbers, etc. If this happens, it's likely you may not be aware of it until you notice unusual transactions on your account.

To reduce the risk, you should:

  • Install and / or update anti-virus and personal firewall software
  • Update all virus definitions and run a full scan
  • If your system appears to have been compromised, repair it and then change your password again
  • Check  your other accounts! The phishers may have helped themselves to many different accounts: ebay account, Paypal, e-mail ISP, on-line bank accounts, on-line trading accounts and other e-commerce accounts, and everything else for which you use on-line passwords.
If you have given out your Personal Identification information

Contact the three major credit reporting agencies- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion and do the following:

  • Request that the agencies place a fraud alert and a victim's statement in your file
  • Request a free copy of your credit report to check whether any accounts were opened.
  • Request the agencies remove inquiries and / or fraudulent accounts resulting from the theft.
Major Credit Bureaus web sites:

Equifax – www.equifax.com
Experian- www.experian.com
Trans Union – www.transunion.com

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