Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Consumer Alert: Cut The Line On Phishing Scams

This Better Business Bureau consumer bulletin is sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric, a Sempra Energy utility.

Please read then forward to your friends and co-workers so they may be informed too.

Phishing is an e-mail in which fraudsters attempt to convince consumers to reveal personal information, such as their credit-card account numbers, checking account information, Social Security numbers and banking account passwords, through official-looking fake websites or in a reply e-mail.

Phishing doesn't use a rod and reel; rather it uses the Internet and the intent is to catch consumers who are not aware of this scam.

Phishers sail under false colors and deliberately misrepresent themselves, just to get their hooks into consumers' personal and financial information.

Consumers can best protect themselves by following one simple rule: When in doubt, delete.

Many financial institutions might use e-mail to communicate with customers and direct them to their websites where the customers may be asked to enter personal information as part of registering for a service, such as online banking or accessing account information. However, if the e-mail wasn't initiated in response to an action by the consumer, it's a good idea to go directly to the organization's website by entering the website address (URL) rather than linking it from an e-mail.

Here is how to avoid getting lured into a phishing scam:
  • Treat unsolicited e-mail requests for financial information or other personal data with suspicion. Unsolicited means the e-mail wasn't initiated in response to an action by the consumer. Do not reply to the unsolicited e-mail or respond by clicking on a link within the unsolicited e-mail message.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if it is genuine.
  • Only enter personal information on a secure website that you know to be legitimate.
  • Update anti-virus software and security patches to system software regularly.
  • Be cautious. Check your monthly statements to verify all transactions. Notify your bank immediately of any erroneous or suspicious transactions.

Please visit the San Diego Better Business Bureau for additional consumer alerts, warnings and tips.

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