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May-15-2008 10:36printcomments

Oregon Bankers Association Offers Tips to Combat Phishing

Tips to help protect Oregon consumers from having personal financial information hijacked.

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(SALEM, Ore.) - To avoid becoming a victim of personal financial information theft, the Oregon Bankers Association (OBA), in conjunction with the American Bankers Association (ABA), offers valuable tips for Oregon consumers to consider. In a scam known as ‘phishing,’ swindlers claim to be from a reputable company and send out thousands of fake emails, phone calls and/or text messages in hopes that consumers will respond with bank account information, credit card numbers, passwords or other sensitive, personal information.

These emails can be quite convincing, with company logos and banners copied from actual Web sites. For example, they will state that their security procedure or the status of your account has changed. As a result, they need to update (or validate) the customer’s information, and then direct individuals to a look-alike Web site. If responded to, the thieves use this information to order goods and services, create bogus debit cards or obtain credit.

According to the April 2007 issue of PC World Magazine, it was reported that 3.5 Million Americans gave up sensitive information to phishers in 2006, an 84% jump from 2005. The total loss from the United States was $2.8 billion.

Consumer Tips

To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam, the Oregon Bankers Association offers these tips to Oregon consumers:

* Never give out personal financial information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax, text message or email, no matter how official it may seem.

* Do not respond to email that may warn of dire consequences unless you validate information immediately. Contact the company to confirm the message’s validity using a telephone number or Web address known to be genuine.

* Check credit card and bank account statements regularly and look for unauthorized transactions, even small ones. Some thieves hope small transactions will go unnoticed. Report discrepancies immediately.

* When submitting financial information online, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of the Internet browser. Also, many secure Internet addresses, though not all use "https" to signify that the information is secure during transmission. Additionally, verify that you recognize the address in the Internet Explorer address bar is accurate, and not an address you are not familiar with.

* Report suspicious activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

* If you have responded to a suspicious email, contact your bank immediately so they can protect your account and your identity.

* For more information on phishing, visit the following: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Trade Commission, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, the National Consumers League, the OCC Consumer Protection News and the OCC Consumer Complaints and Assistance Web site.

Source: The Oregon Bankers Association

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