Criminals have gotten very creative on devising ways to gain your personal and financial information in order to steal your identity. Stealing mail, going through trash, and burglaries have been common ways of perpetrating identity theft for several years. Recently, a new type of venue for identity theft called phishing (pronounced fishing) has gained popularity. Phishing is when thieves “fish” for your personal information. This can be accomplished by a criminal calling you on the telephone or through your computer. What they want are bank or credit card numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and/or other personal information. With the personal information obtained from a phishing scam, identity thieves can take out loans or credit cards, access your deposit accounts, or even get a driver’s license in your name.
When a thief is phishing for your information, you will receive a telephone call or an e-mail from what appears to be a reputable company that you recognize or have a business relationship such as your bank. The telephone call or e-mail may even be represented as being from a government agency such as the FDIC or the FBI.
The caller or the e-mail may warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention or may ask for your assistance in solving some impending investigation.  The e-mail will usually have phrases such as “Immediate attention required” or “Please contact us immediately about your account” and direct you to click on a link to the institution or agency web site.  The phishing scam will then redirect you to a phony web site that may look exactly like the real thing.  A con artist calling on the telephone may increasingly pressure you to reveal confidential information.
In either case, you would be asked to update or reveal personal or account information for verification purposes.  Keep in mind that a company that you conduct business with will already have your Social Security number, your account number, or passwords and WILL NOT ask you for them for verification purposes when they make contact with you.   However, if you contact your financial institution, it is common for these types of requests by the financial institution in order to identify you and avoid revealing your personal information to a potential thief for identity theft purposes.   


Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, and has ranked as one of the top consumer concerns for the past several years. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has produced a multimedia presentation to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft. The presentation provides information on steps consumers should take to secure their computer and protect themselves from identity theft, as well as actions consumers should take if they become a victim of identity theft. Click the link below to view the presentation.

Presentation: Don't Be an On-Line Victim

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