July 28, 2004
GENERAL WARNS OF RISE IN ‘PHISHING’ E-MAIL SCAMS
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. is again warning Marylanders
to beware of e-mail messages that attempt to trick people into
revealing sensitive personal information.
“Phishing” e-mails, which use the names and logos
of well-known companies, banks and Internet service providers,
tell the recipients that they must “update” or “verify” their
account for security reasons. They may threaten that the account
will be closed if the recipient does not respond. Recipients are
told to click on a link to what looks like the real company’s
website and enter their financial account numbers, PIN numbers,
Social Security numbers, passwords or other information. In reality,
con artists who have created an imitation website are waiting to
collect the information and use it to access the victim’s
“Because the risk of financial fraud and identity
theft is so great, and we are hearing about a rise in these e-mails,
I am warning consumers to be on guard,” Curran said.
consumers who receive these kinds of e-mails should ignore them.
Legitimate companies do not ask their customers to
provide sensitive information via e-mail. However, consumers who
are concerned about their accounts can contact the company with
a phone number or e-mail address they know to be legitimate. If
they want to visit the company’s website, they should not
click on the link given in the suspicious e-mail but rather open
a new browser window and type in the company’s correct URL.
responded to one of these e-mails and entered personal information
should contact their bank or the company immediately.
They may need to close the account associated with the information.
If they revealed their Social Security number, they may also want
to contact the credit reporting agencies and ask if a fraud alert
could be put on their files, to try to prevent thieves from opening
accounts in their names.