Here are some simple precautions to prevent getting Phished and avoiding Malware!

Internet Phishing scams usually involves fake e-mail messages using legitimate materials, such as a company’s website logos and graphics, in an attempt to get information.  For example, they are looking for your Social Security number, account numbers, or the 4-digit code from the back of a credit card.

Many financial institutions, government agencies, retailers and credit card companies have seen their Web site graphics used by con artist intent on tricking you the consumer into giving out your personal information.  These Web sites look official, they are only meant to capture your personal information.  Here is some information to help you fight back against this form of fraud: 
 
 Never respond to an unsolicited e-mail that asks you to verify information the company or financial institution should already have.  Know who you are dealing with. 

Report anything suspicious to the proper authorities. Alert the company, government agency or financial institution identified in the e-mail immediately through a web site or phone number you know is legitimate.

You can also contact the Internet Crime Center at www.ic3.gov – a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center – if you think you received a phishing e-mail or have been directed to a “phishy-looking” web site.

Stop, Look and Call

The Department of Justice advises e-mail users to “stop, look and call” if they receive a suspicious e-mail.

Stop – resist the urge to immediately respond to a suspicious e-mail, no matter how urgent the claims seem. 

Look – read the text of the e-mail thoroughly several times.  Ask yourself why this information is being requested.   Remember, any company or financial institution you are currently doing business with would already have this information and would not need to request it.

Call – Telephone the organization identified.  Use a phone book or call the phone company’s information number (411)  for the phone number to make sure it is legitimate.

If you believe you have been phished and provided sensitive financial information you should:

Immediately contact your financial institution.

Contact the three major Credit Bureaus and request a fraud alert be placed on your credit report.  The Credit Bureau numbers are:

Equifax – 1-800-525-6285

Experian  - 1-888-397-3742

Trans Union  - 1-800-680-7289

File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or telephone at 1-877-382-4357.

Make sure you know who you are talking to on the internet or telephone, do not be afraid to ask questions and ask for names.  Request to call them back and verify the phone number before releasing any information.  If you are unsure, hang up or delete the e-mail. 

Avoiding  Malware

Scam artists use the internet to trick people into opening sites that will download malware and spyware to their computers, particularly computers that don’t use sufficient security software. To lower the threat of downloading unwanted malware and spyware:

Update your security software when needed.

Only open links or emails with attachments if you know what it is and who sent the email.

Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.

Browser security settings should be high enough to minimize “drive-by” or unauthorized downloads.

Do not click on any links within pop-ups. Use a pop-up blocker to prevent the installation of malware or spyware on your computer.

Be careful buying software in response to pop-up messages or emails.  This is a scammer’s tactic to spread malware. 

 


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