What is Phishing?
Phishing refers to scams that attempt to trick consumers into revealing personal information, such as bank account numbers, passwords, payment card numbers, or Social Security numbers. These scams can be done by phone, email, regular mail and even via text message. In addition to seeking bank information, phishers may also try to obtain your ATM PIN or any other information that can help them build a more complete profile from which they can operate in your name.
Most commonly, phishers target unsuspecting users with fake Internet sites or email messages that look legitimate. This is sometimes referred to as "spoofing." Scammers also may leverage social networking sites, where users are already accustomed to sharing information with others.
How Does Phishing Work?
Phishing emails and websites typically use familiar logos and graphics to deceive consumers into thinking the sender or website owner is a government agency, bank, retailer or other company they know or do business with. Sophisticated phishers may include misleading details, such as using the company CEO's name in the email "from" field. Another common phishing tactic is to make a link in an email (and the fake website where it leads) appear legitimate by misspelling URLs or changing the ".com" to ".biz" or another easily overlooked substitution.
Some phishing scams even lure victims by telling them that their information has already been jeopardized. For example, potential victims may receive an email that appears to come from a major bank warning that their account has recently been exposed to fraudulent activity. Users are asked to click a link within the message so they can "confirm" their bank account information. Instead of going to the bank's legitimate website; however, victims are taken to a clever lookalike, where their information actually is routed to the scammer.
If you receive any message asking you to confirm account information that has been "stolen" or "lost" or encouraging you to reveal personal information in order to receive a prize, it may be a form of phishing.
How Can I Protect Myself Against Identity Theft?
Identity theft is serious business. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.
At Western Bank, we feel it is important that you are aware of what you can do to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.
Identity theft begins when someone else obtains your "identifying information." This includes things like your name, address, date-of-birth, social security number or mother's maiden name. Those who obtain this information act as an imposter and use your credit card accounts, deplete your savings, purchase automobiles and apply for loans. Identity theft and fraud can affect individuals and businesses.
How you can protect yourself as a:
If you are concerned that your card or account has been compromised, please call our customer service telephone number at (651) 290-8176.
Report a computer vulnerability to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team: 1-888-282-0870 or www.US-CERT.gov.
For more cyber tips, best practices, "how-to" guidance, or to sign up for technical and non-technical cyber alerts visit www.US-CERT.gov.