Illustration by Dr Seuss (Theodor Geisel)
Protect yourself from Phishing attacks, which are E-mail scams involving fraudsters pretending to be from legitimate businesses and ask you to verify or update your financial or personal information. Don't do it! If you fall for the scam, the fraudsters steal your identity and use it to commit financial crimes.
Never give out your personal information such as social security number, account number or insurance policy information, passwords, mother's maiden's name, or place of birth in response to an unsolicited E-mail or phone request. Do not provide your bank name, and never tell anyone the Personal Identification Number (PIN) assigned to log-in to your bank cards, credit cards or other merchant accounts (e.g., phone, utility, cable or homeowners accounts).
When making Internet, mail order, or telephone transactions, do not provide your PIN. Always carefully review your account statements and notify your card issuers if your statements show any fraudulent activities.
Non-disclosure is your first line of defense. If you do fall for the scam, however, immediately report the unscrupulous activity to your financial institution(s), each of your account holders and creditors, the local police department and Better Business Bureau, and all three consumer credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Ask them to help you mitigate the consequences of the disclosure(s). Keep a list and make notes of every person you talk with. Date each conversation and ask for the representative's name, department name, job title, and phone extension.
Make sure you understand each company's process, and what to expect from each one. Some options include verifying recent activities on your accounts, changing your passwords and security questions, placing bank and merchant alerts on your accounts, closing your accounts, and placing a national alert through the three consumer credit reporting agencies.
Be smart! Don't let a grinch ruin your day and possibly your personal reputation, business dealings, or credit rating.
You might like
Fighting Back Against Identity Theft on FTC.gov
Online Shopping Tips: E-Commerce and You on PrivacyRights.org
Good to Know on Google.com
Online Security links on forum.bigfamilynews.com
Listen to & read words to The Grinch Song on ChristmasLibrary.ca
Links updated December 17, 2011 at 8:18 AM