Identity theft is now the # 1 consumer complaint in the United States. One in every 50 consumers has been a victim of identity theft. The fact is that most people are now being victimized by scammers and spammers through the internet by a process called phishing.
The term applies to scamsters who are "phishing" for your private information such as your bank account, credit card information or worse, your identity. One of the most popular identity theft scams is to send spam to potential victims advising them that they need to visit a financial service's web site to update or confirm their personal information.
The URL in the scam e-mail sends the victim to a phony web site, and when the victim has divulged his or her personal and credit card information, the scammer then has the victim's identity or credit card information.
Some of the phony web sites were set up using the names of Citibank, First Union, Bank of America and lately, First Citizens Bank. Best Buys and E-Bay are also included in this scam.
Here is a sample of an e-mail: note the misspellings.
Subject: YOUR ONLINE BANKING ACCOUNT
Dear Online Banking Consumer,
This e-mail was sent by your Online Banking center to verify your e-mail address. You must complete this process by entering required iformation like your Online Banking login and password. This is done for your protection --- becaurse some of our members no longer have access to their email addresses and we must verify it. Please, complete the following information:
Bank Routing/ABA Number (9 digits):
First 6 digits of your Banking Card:
Online Banking Login ID (CIN or CAN):
Your Online Banking Password (or PIN):
What do you do if you get an e-mail like this? Nothing. Delete the e-mail! It's a scam.
Legitimate banks and organizations may send you offers and coupons via e-mail, but they do NOT ask for your personal and banking information via e-mail.
If you have any question about the legitimacy of an e-mail, go to the official web site directly, or call or e-mail the company. Never click on the link in the e-mail.
ACTION: Never, ever, ever respond to e-mails that ask for personal info.
If you have any additional questions contact the Division of Public Safety at (215) 573-3333.
Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 7, October 12, 2004
October 12, 2004
Volume 51 Number 7