Tips on how to avoid the internet scam known as phishing:
- If you receive an unexpected e-mail saying your account will be shut down unless you confirm your billing information, do not reply or click any links in the email body.
- Before submitting financial information through a Web site, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar. It means your information is secure during transmission.
- If you are uncertain about the information, contact the company through an address or telephone number you know to be genuine.
- If you unknowingly supplied personal or financial information, contact your bank and credit card company immediately.
- Suspicious e-mail can be forwarded to email@example.com, and complaints should be filed with the state attorney general's office or through the FTC at www.ftc.gov.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.
Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information:
- Shred documents with personal information before discarding.
- Don't give out your Social Security number or other personal information unless you know who you're dealing with.
Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements:
- Inspect your credit reports, financial statements and bills regularly for activity you did not authorize or expect
Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it:
- Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports
- Close the affected accounts
- File a police report
- Report ID theft to the FTC