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For Immediate Release
July 28, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY 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 accounts.

“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.

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.

Consumers who 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.

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