Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has released new tips, Slam the Door on Phishing Scams, and a short, funny video to help you spot and avoid phishing. It’s when crooks, pretending to be from well-known companies, organizations, or government agencies, contact you and try to trick you into revealing your Social Security numbers, financial account information, passwords, or other personal information. That information is then used to make unauthorized purchases, take over your accounts, open new accounts in your name, get tax refunds and other government benefits, and even apply for jobs.
Produced with support from Visa, Inc., these new consumer resources are on CFA’s www.IDTheftInfo.org website under Protect Yourself and also on CFA’s main website at www.consumerfed.org/fraud. In addition to describing the common tactics that phishing scammers use, CFA’s new tips also provide advice about what to do if you’ve been hooked and links to sources for more information about phishing. These materials are free to download, link to, or print to use for educational purposes.
Phishing has been a serious fraud problem for several years and shows no signs of letting up. In 2012, it was the fourth most common scam reported to the National Consumers’ League’s Fraud Center and, as part of the category “Imposter Scams,” it ranked at #8 in the top ten frauds reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year. Good spam filters catch many email phishing attempts, but not all, so it’s important to be on guard. Phishing scammers also use text messages and phone calls to contact potential victims.
“There are many variations of phishing scams and new ones pop up every day,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America. “If someone suddenly appeared at your door asking for your personal information, you’d be suspicious – and rightfully so. We want people to realize that it should be no different when someone approaches you online or by phone asking for that information.”
“Phishing scams are all too prevalent, and fraudsters are getting increasingly sophisticated at impersonating trusted organizations. It’s important for consumers to be aware of this popular tactic and be alert whenever they receive a request for their personal or payment information,” said Jennifer Fischer, head of Americas Payment System Security. “At Visa our goal is to help consumers get the information they need to help keep their information secure and transact with confidence.”