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Scam Alerts

Phishing Without a License!

Don’t take the bait. Identity theft has a new wrinkle. And it’s called phishing. The scamsters who came up with phishing take advantage of the Internet to reel you in by pretending to be somebody they’re not, an online retailer, service provider, financial institution, or credit card issuer. They send e-mails asking you to reply, or they link you to phony Web sites that ask you for your account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords and other sensitive information.

Visa® USA, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have joined forces to cut the line on phishing scams. Their simple rule of thumb: When in doubt, delete! Here are some ways to keep from getting lured:

  • Treat unsolicited e-mail requests for financial information or other personal data with suspicion. If the e-mail isn’t responding to any action you took, it’s unsolicited! Do not reply to any unsolicited e-mail or respond by clicking on a link within any unsolicited e-mail message.
  • Contact the business that supposedly sent the e-mail directly. Visit their secure Web site or call a phone number that you know is legitimate and verify with the business whether the e-mail you received is genuine.
  • Enter your personal information only on secure Web sites that you know to be genuine. Visa or your card issuer would never ask you to send Social Security numbers, account numbers, passwords, or PINs within an e-mail message. When entering personal data on a Web site, look for a “locked padlock” on the browser or “https” at the beginning of the Web site address to make sure the site is secure.
  • Update anti-virus software and security patches to system software regularly. Phishing e-mails can contain viruses that may harm your computer if opened.
  • Be cautious. Check your monthly statements to verify all transactions. Notify your financial institution ASAP of any suspicious or erroneous transactions.
  • Forward any suspicious e-mails to the Federal Trade Commission at or file a complaint with the FTC at You can also forward any unsolicited e-mails claiming to be from Visa or your card issuer to

For more information about phishing go to or

To learn how to prevent identity theft and what to do if your identity is stolen, go to the FTC’s Web site,

To file an identity theft-related complaint call the FTC Identity Theft Hotline, 877.IDTHEFT. (877.438.4338)