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Phishing is one of the most common types of identity theft committed online. Thieves “phish” to capture your personal information via e-mail, just as fishermen do who troll the lakes and streams to attract and catch unsuspecting fish.
Any kind of information is fair game in phishing identity theft scams. Passwords. Account numbers. Bank information. Social Security numbers. PINs. Your best defense is awareness. The request for bank account verification is one of the most familiar examples of identity theft phishing scams. Here is how it is done, and what you should do if one lands in your e-mail “In” box:
How it is done: You receive an e-mail from what appears to be your bank or one of your credit card issuers. The e-mail may explain that the bank/credit card company is doing a routine verification of customer information. For your convenience, an active link is embedded in the e-mail for you to click on to be immediately taken to your account page. Don't do it! Identity thieves use embedded links to take you to cloaked sites where you willingly give them all the information they ask for.
What to do: Use your browser to log into your account as you normally would. If updates or verifications are required, there will be a notice on the company's site. If there is no such notice, forward the e-mail you received to the company immediately so it can take steps to report the offenders and notify customers of fraud attempts.
Thieves rely on you taking advantage of the convenience of an active link. Be cautious when clicking on embedded links in e-mails and on web sties, and do not open attachments.