Gone phishing

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Crooks who use the Internet to scam unsuspecting victims are finding creative ways to bilk you. Customers of one Cape Girardeau bank recently received automated messages on their cell phones. The phony messages said there were problems with the recipients' debit or credit-card accounts. The messages asked for detailed account information to clear up the problem.

This kind of message, also sent by e-mail, is called phishing. Just like fishing with bait in a pond, the scammers hope someone, worried about their credit and access to bank funds, will respond without thinking. If someone does, that person's confidential information is immediately available to be misused by the scammers.

Never give out information like credit-card numbers, bank-account numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates, home addresses or phone numbers unless you know who's on the receiving end of such information. Phishers count on the confusion and consternation their messages create. Don't give them what they want.

If you get such a message, call your credit-card company or bank's customer-service numbers. Don't use the number provided by the phishing text message or e-mail. Don't respond to such requests if you receive an unsolicited phone call. In other words, your best protection is your own common sense.

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