Critter Corner: Don’t Become a Victim of Phishing

Dear Commander Bun Bun,

I was baking cookies with my mother the other day, when she took a break to check her email. She told me that one of her emails from the bank seemed really important and she thought she should answer it right away. I observed her providing all kinds of personal information for what seemed to me to be a scam. I told her to not to send the email, and after a bit of an argument, she agreed with me. I can only imagine what would’ve happened if I wasn’t there. Are you aware of all the major scams going on right now and, if so, can you help educate me and other readers?

Thanks,

Don Targett-Herr

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Dear Don,

Your message couldn’t have been more timely. When I was checking my office email this morning, I saw a message from my local bunny bank on this subject. The message alerted customers to certain popular types of email fraud which typically escalate during the holiday season:
Phishing
Phishing is when fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information.  If you are being targeted, don’t reply to email, text, or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information and don’t click on links in them.  Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels. Learn more about phishing here.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offers the following tips on how to protect yourself from phishing:

• Pick Up the Phone to Verify — Do not respond to any emails that request personal or financial information, especially ones that use pressure tactics or prey on fear. If you have reason to believe that a financial institution actually does need personal information from you, pick up the phone and call the company yourself — using the number on the back of your card (if it’s your bank) or via a legitimate website, not the one the email provides!
• Beef Up Your Security — Personal firewalls and security software packages (with anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware detection features) are a must-have for those who engage in online financial transactions. Make sure your computer has the latest security software installed, and make sure that you conduct your financial transactions only on a secure web page using encryption. You can tell if a page is secure in a couple of ways. Look for a closed padlock in the status bar, and see that the URL starts with “https” instead of just “http.”
• Read Your Statements — Don’t toss aside your monthly account statements! Read them thoroughly as soon as they arrive to make sure that all transactions shown are ones that you actually made, and check to see whether all of the transactions that you thought you made appear as well. Be sure that the company has current contact information for you, including your mailing address and email address.
• Spot the Sharks — Visit the website of the Anti-Phishing Working Group at www.antiphishing.org for a list of current phishing attacks and the latest news in the fight to prevent phishing. There you’ll find more information about phishing and links to helpful resources.

What to Do if You Run into Trouble

Always act quickly when you come face to face with a potential fraud, especially if you’ve lost money or believe your identity has been stolen.

• Phishy Emails — If a phishing scam rolls into your inbox, you can report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. If the email purports to come from the Securities and Exchange Commission, alert the SEC by submitting a tip online at https://denebleo.sec.gov/TCRExternal/disclaimer.xhtml.
• Identity Theft — If you think that your personal information has been stolen, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s feature on Identity Theft at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft for information on how to control the damage.
• Securities Scams — Before you do business with any investment-related firm or individual, do your own independent research to check out their background and confirm whether they are legitimate. For step-by-step tips and links to helpful websites, please read Check Out Brokers and Advisers and SIPC Exposes Phony “Look-Alike” Web Site. Report investment-related scams to the SEC using our online Complaint Center.
Hop this is helpful.

Have a happy and safe holiday!

Commander Bun Bun

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