Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is a type of criminal activity that uses fraudulent techniques to gather sensitive personal information, such as passwords, account numbers, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), Social Security Numbers, and other account information. By pretending to be a trustworthy person or business in a seemingly official electronic communication like an email, a criminal can use sophisticated lures to “fish” for users' passwords and personal or account information.
However, scammers may use other contact methods to obtain your personal or account information, such as text messages (also known as short message phishing or “smishing”) and phone calls (also known as voice phishing or “vishing”). With these methods, you could receive a text message, phone call, or voicemail directing you to a fake website or phone number that appears to be legitimate, where you would be asked to provide your personal or account information.
For example, you could receive a text message from an unusual number that says your account will be closed, frozen, or terminated unless you call a telephone number or go to a website. Often, these messages will imply or state that there will be negative consequences if you do not respond. This is an attempt to scare you and convince you to provide your personal or account information.
If you are ever unsure about the authenticity of a Company email, phone call, or text message, please call the toll-free number on the back of your credit/debit card or the toll-free number printed on your statement.
Do not respond or reply to a letter, email, phone call, or text message that:
It is almost always a scam to see a letter, email, communication, or website that:
Legitimate programs will never require you to enter personal or account information unless you are on a secure website.
Email scams often try to create a feeling of urgency so you will respond before you can think. These messages typically threaten to cut off a service or close your account if you do not “update” or “verify” your personal or account information. Or they may pretend to be helpful, like offering a security update, but require you to enter your personal or account information first. These are red flags, and such tactics should alert you that the request may not be legitimate.
Another more recent example is a scam involving an email that appears to come from one of your friends urgently asking you to send them money because they have lost their wallet or they are stuck in a foreign country. Never respond; call your friend to verify first.
You should always have up-to-date antivirus software and a personal firewall installed on your computer. Make sure you have antivirus software that scans incoming communications and files for viruses that may cause you trouble. Be cautious about offers for “free” antivirus software and make sure you get your software from a highly reputable company. Also, look for antivirus software that removes or quarantines viruses and that updates automatically on a regular basis.
A firewall is software or hardware designed to block unauthorized access to your computer. It is especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection (such as from a cable modem) because your connection is always open. Most common operating system software (including Windows® XP and Vista) often come with built-in firewall functionality, but you may have to enable it.
We use a variety of technologies and techniques to help ensure that our products and services are secure. You should protect yourself, too, by making an effort to protect yourself when you use your personal computer or conduct business online.
Here are some of the steps you can take:
Review your credit reports carefully and often. Each major credit reporting agency is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once a year, upon request. Look out for credit inquiries from unfamiliar companies, accounts that you never opened, and unexplained debts; all of these are warning signs of fraud and identity theft. To order your free annual credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.
If you notice suspicious activity in your accounts, report it immediately to the appropriate parties.
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