How can I identify a phishing scam?

In a typical phishing case, you’ll receive an email that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your bank. In some cases, the email may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal regulatory agencies.

The email will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.” The email will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution’s website.

In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual website. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information.

In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real bank, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.

October 2019