Identity theft is a growing problem with some reports indicating that as many as 10 million people fall victim to identity theft each year. One method that has become increasingly popular is something called phishing.
Phishing is a where a person is contacted over the phone or by e-mail by someone who appears to be a trusted source. For example you get an e-mail that appears to be coming from your bank. It indicates that you need to just click on this link and verify some basic information. Except the problem is the e-mail is fake and the link doesn’t take you to your bank’s web site but a very cleverly designed copy instead. If you aren’t vigilant, before you know you will have handed the criminals key information like your account numbers or social security number.
The latest phishing attack
Consumer Reports Money Adviser reported this month that the latest phishing attack to make its rounds is impersonating the do not call registry. The National Do Not Call registry was established by the Federal Trade Commission. It gives you the opportunity to opt out of telemarketing calls.
A scammer calls and says they are from the do not call registry. They just need you to verify some personal information to make sure the number on the registry is really yours. You do want to continue to be removed from telemarketing lists don’t you?
Or you may get a call from someone stating they are registering people for the do not call list. Would you like to stop receiving telemarketing calls? All you have to do is just give a couple little pieces of information and you’ll be added to the list.
Things don’t work that way
Be assured that the FTC is not and will not be calling anyone to verify your information, either to keep you on the list or to add you to it.
If you want to be removed from telemarketing lists, you can register easily at https://www.donotcall.gov. If someone calls claiming they need to verify your information, simply hang up!
Some easy tips for avoiding phishing scams
The do not call list scam is just one of many ways that thieves may try to get your information.
- Do not respond to e-mails or phone calls asking for personal information. If you get an e-mail or phone call that claims to be from a bank or other institution you do business with, don’t respond. Call the institution directly and ask if there is an issue with your account. Never divulge personal information unless you initiate the call.
- Do not click on links in unsolicited e-mails.
- Make sure you have updated anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer.
- Closely examine addresses of e-mails you receive or web sites you visit. Often a spammer will use an address that is very similar to the company name but just slightly different.
- If you are completing an online financial transaction, it should be done through a secured web site. You can tell if the site is encrypted because the address will start with https and not http.
- Be aware that in this age of identity theft any legitimate financial institution will never ask you to give out your personal information unsolicited.
- Check your financial statements and your credit reports regularly to make sure information is accurate.
Don’t be taken in
The Do Not Call registry scam is just the latest phishing attempt. There will be many more similar attempts for one reason. They do work. People are tricked because a good con artist can make the phishing effort look very real.
Sadly, the key is you simply need to be wary. Follow these tips. Guard your personal information intensely. Never give it out unsolicited.
Have you received e-mails or phone calls that you suspected were attempts to steal your information?