A Reminder About "Phishing" Scams

(October 1, 2013)- On a weekly basis, the Cape Coral Police Department gets notified of various email and telephone scams that are going around out there.  There are some best practices you can use to help keep yourself from getting "phished" by these scammers, and keep your personal identification and financial information safe.

Phishing (also called pharming or whaling) e-mails trick people into sending money or providing personal information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details, and Social Security numbers to unauthorized individuals who hijack their information and use it to commit identity theft.

 HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP AVOID GETTING “HOOKED” BY A “PHISHERMAN.”

DO NOT:

• Respond to e-mails, mail, telephone solicitations, raffles or contests from unknown entities.

• Answer e-mail warnings that have “undisclosed recipients” in the address line, a blank space next to “Dear,” numerous spelling errors, and/or awkward English.

• E-mail personal or financial information including credit card or bank account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, etc.. Internet e-mail is NOT secure.

• Be fooled by legitimate-looking e-mails even if they contain logos, pictures, copyrights or names of legitimate businesses.  Logos are easy to fake.

• Never reply to e-mails or pop-up messages requesting personal or financial information.

• Click on links in unsolicited messages.  These can connect to malicious websites.

• Update personal information online in response to e-mailed requests.

• Cut and paste a link from an unsolicited message into a Web browser, as these links can be made to look like they go to one site, but are actually redirected to another to mine information.

• Respond to calls from alleged companies or government agencies which use a recorded message and ask you to call a phone number to update account information. Phishing can also occur by phone. Using Voice-over Internet Protocol technology, scammers request personal information, and then redirect calls to steal the information provided.

DO:

• Install, update and use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as firewalls to help reduce the number of Phishing e-mails received. Firewalls are especially important with broadband connections as computers are open to the Internet whenever they’re turned on. Go to www.onguardonline.gov or www.staysafeonline.org to learn more about how to keep your computer secure.

• Review financial account statements as soon as you receive them every month to check for unauthorized or suspicious charges.

• Check credit reports regularly. This can be done free of charge three (3) times a year through the three (3) reporting agencies found online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

• Use caution when opening any attachment or downloading any files from e-mails received even from known sources, to avoid the possibility of infecting computers with viruses, malware, or spyware.

• Look for the “https” prefix and a closed padlock when entering any financial information for electronic transmission over the Internet.  If your bank doesn't offer a secure connection, call and ask them why not.

• Contact companies with whom you do business in response to unsolicited e-mails using their company name by calling the number provided on official company billing statements.  If you choose to contact them via the internet, type the "known-good" web address into your browser manually.  Do NOT click on a link in an email to go to that company's website.

• Act immediately if you think you've been "phished" and provided personal identifiable information to unknown or unverified parties by notifying the companies with whom you have the accounts and by placing a security freeze or fraud alert on your files at credit reporting agencies.

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