Consumers Urged to 'Report not Respond' to Suspect E-mail Requests
This most recent spate of e-mails aimed at financial institutions' customers underscores the need for consumers to be skeptical of any solicitation holding itself out as a bank or creditor and seeking verification or additional financial information over the telephone or the Internet.
"Internet phishing is getting bolder, judging by the institutions being mimicked on-line. Consumers need to report these solicitations to their banks instead of responding to them," said Consumer Affairs Director Beth Lindstrom. "In almost all instances, banks and creditors do not ask for your financial information on-line. Consumers can help themselves, their bank or creditor and law enforcement by reporting it immediately," Lindstrom added.
In her ongoing effort to bring greater consumer awareness and education to the prevention of identity theft, Director Lindstrom urges consumers who make on-line purchases to look for safety features to ensure a secure or "encrypted" transaction.
- Make sure a "lock" icon appears in the bottom strip of the web page in which personal information is input;
- Note that the "URL" address for the web page should change from "http" to "https" for the page where personal information is to be entered.
"We know the faster consumers act to report stolen personal or financial information, the less chance for widespread financial damage to them. The same rule of thumb applies here for suspect solicitors," Lindstrom added.
IDENTITY THEFT CONTACTS
Verify authenticity with banks and credit card companies before providing any personal information, but if you suspect you have given out information to a fraudulent solicitor, contact the following agencies:
- Contact the fraud units at the three credit bureaus:
- Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline
- Social Security Fraud Hotline
- U.S. Postal Inspectors