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01.10.2012 / Phishing: How to stay safe

Phishing. It is an odd word for a relatively common scam practice. Phishing means an email, phone call or text message that appears to come from your financial institution but does not. Instead, it has been sent by scammers in order to try to convince you to hand over sensitive data.

"Never provide financial or personal information in response to an unsolicited phone call"

One example of phishing involves text messages being sent to random mobile phone users. In the message, the recipient is told that that their bank account is in danger of being closed – and they are given a number for them to call and provide their account information so their accounts will stay open.

In reality, the text message has been sent from scammers who will take the information given to them by unsuspecting customers and use it to steal money from them. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself against phishing:

  • Don’t respond in haste to a request for personal or financial information.  When individuals get phishing emails, calls or text messages, they often panic and respond quickly.  Wait and read through all of the information before you react, and then contact your financial institution directly.
  • Never provide financial (or personal) information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax, e-mail or text.  Always keep the phone numbers of your bank or credit card company on hand and call them directly is you get an email, text or phone call asking to confirm your personal financial information.
  • If you do get a suspicious piece of correspondence, contact your bank to confirm whether or not an email, text or phone call is legitimate – particularly one that asks you to provide personal or banking account information.  Legitimate financial institutions (including First National) will NEVER ask you to provide this information.
  • Finally, the elderly are particularly at risk from phishing attacks.  If you have any elderly family members, make sure they understand the types of phishing and train them how to respond. 

There are some excellent resources that provide information on how to protect yourself from scammers or identify theft, including the American Bankers Association Identify Theft information page at: www.aba.com/ABEF/idtheft_moretips.htm.

Posted at 09:47 AM | Permalink
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