One of the unfortunate downsides of the information age are less than desirable organizations that perform malicious acts and put your identity at risk.
Phishing scams are just that – illegal organizations “fishing” for personal information about you in order to commit identity theft. A fraudulent, yet very official looking, email is sent requesting the recipient to verify some bit of information about themselves. This information can be banking account numbers, social security numbers or username/passwords. If collected, this information, is then used for identity theft by compromising your account.
It is important to always remember to treat any username and password as personal information that could be used to commit identity theft, including your email username and passwords!
A few typical indicators the email you received is NOT legitimate:
- Indicates your account has been compromised
- The use of odd spacing in the subject line. I.E.: "Your Account: has been Compromised"
- Indicates your account will be closed soon without confirmation from you
- Some piece of information needs to be verified – your credit card number, username and password, etc
So, what can you do if you think you have been scammed:
- Never reply to emails asking for personal information. No legitimate business will ever contact you this way if your account has been compromised. Ever.
- Only divulge personal information when you initiate the service call.
- If you wish to verify if the email is legitimate, call or email the company’s customer service center directly. If you are a Keller Williams associate, you would contact KW Support at email@example.com.
- If you have responded to an email you now think is a phishing scam, contact the customer service department of the account you believe is now compromised IMMEDIATELY.
- To report scams in the US:
If you believe you’ve been scammed, file your complaint at http://www.ftc.gov/
If you receive spam that is phishing for information, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- To report scams in Canada: file a complaint with www.recol.ca
According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, in May 2008 alone, 32,414 phishing Web sites were operational. Remember, be safe on the internet and keep your personal information private! Teach yourself to spot these indicators I listed above and first and foremost, take the time to find out before clicking on anything to provide your information.