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Agencies publish brochure about internet phishing.

The federal bank, thrift institution, and credit union agencies on September 8, 2004, announced the publication of a brochure with information to help consumers identify and combat a new type of Internet scam known as phishing.

The term is a play on the word fishing, and that is exactly what Internet thieves are doing--fishing for confidential financial information, such as account numbers and passwords. With enough information, a con artist can run up bills on another person's credit card or, in the worst case, even steal that person's identity.

In a common type of phishing scam, individuals receive e-mail messages that appear to come from their financial institution. The e-mail message may look authentic, right down to the use of the institution's logo and marketing slogans. They often describe a situation that requires immediate attention and then warn that the account will be terminated unless the recipient verifies their account information immediately by electronically selecting a provided link.

The link will take the e-mail recipient to a screen that asks for account information. While it may appear to be a page sponsored by a legitimate financial institution, the information will actually go to the con artist who sent the e-mail message.

The federal financial regulatory agencies want consumers to know that they should never respond to such requests. No legitimate financial institution will ever ask its customers to verify their account information online.

The brochure also suggests the following to consumers:

* Never electronically select a link provided in an e-mail message if there is reason to believe it is fraudulent. The link may contain a virus.

* Do not be intimidated by e-mail messages that warn of dire consequences if their instructions are not followed.

* If there is a question about whether the e-mail message is legitimate, go to the company's website by typing in a site address that you know is legitimate.

* If you fall victim to a phishing scam, act immediately to protect yourself by alerting your financial institution, placing fraud alerts on your credit files, and monitoring your account statements closely.

* Report suspicious e-mail messages or calls to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.

The interagency brochure is available on each agency's website and financial institutions are encouraged to download the camera-ready file for use in their own customer-education programs.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
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Title Annotation:Announcements
Publication:Federal Reserve Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2004
Words:392
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