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Consumer Alert

Online Fraud

Phishing - Internet thieves are "phishing" (fishing) for confidential information. Fraudulent emails, appearing to be from a trusted source such as your bank, or a government agency, direct you to websites. Once there, you are asked to verify personal information such as name, account and credit card numbers and passwords. These sites are often designed to look exactly like the site they are imitating.

Defense Tactics

If you receive an email that warns you, with little or no notice, that your account will be shut down unless you reconfirm certain information, do not click on the email link. Instead, use a phone number or enter the web address yourself. Clicking on the link that looks legitimate may in fact direct you to a fraudulent website where crooks will steal your personal information. Remember, your bank or a government agency will never send you an alert asking you to disclose your personal information.

Before submitting any financial information to a legitimate website, look for the "lock" icon on the browser status bar, or look for "https" in the web address. Both are indications that the information is secure and encrypted during transmission.

Report suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission

Spoofing - Web spoofing allows an attacker to create a "shadow copy" of a legitimate website. Access to the shadow web is funneled through the attacker's machine, allowing the attacker to monitor all of the victim's activities, including any passwords or account numbers the victim enters. The attacker can also cause false or misleading data to be sent to web servers in the victim's name, or to the victim in the name of any web server. In spoofing, an attacker gains unauthorized access to a computer or a network by making it appear that a malicious message has come from a trusted machine by "spoofing" the address of that machine. Phishing and spoofing often go hand-in-hand in Internet fraud.

Defense Tactics

Be wary of unsolicited or unexpected emails from all sources.

If an unsolicited email arrives, treat it as you would a phishing source.

Identity Theft Frauds - Internet fraudsters often use identity theft as a starting point for larger crimes. In one case, criminals obtained the names and social security numbers of military personnel then used them to apply to a bank over the Internet for credit cards. In another case, stolen personal data was used to submit car loan applications online.

Defense Tactics

Keep a close eye on your account activity at your bank, either through statements or using online services. Report anything that looks suspicious.

Your personal information can be obtained by "phishing", "spoofing" or the old fashioned way - dumpster diving. Make sure your unused checks, bills and statements are shredded before discarding.

Serving the Yakima and Kittitas Counties of Washington since 1962