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Tennessee Consumer Affairs issues warning on phishing emails

 

Inbox messages can look legitimate, snare your personal information

Tennessee Division of Consumer AffairsNashville, TN – “You have notifications pending.” So states the email purportedly from Facebook, alerting you to missed updates related to your Facebook account.

It features, under the familiar logo with “Facebook” spelled out in white letters in a blue bar, two boxes for you to click if you wish to go to either your Facebook homepage or to all of your account’s notifications.

But, the boxes are links to a site not affiliated with Facebook, and clicking on either box could expose your computer to an attack aimed at stealing your information. And, upon closer inspection, you see that – though the sender is listed as “Facebook” – the sender’s email address apparently has no relation to the social networking site.

Another common email features this request: “We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”

Don’t click the links. Don’t trust the emails. Fraudulent emails such as these are involved in “phishing” – when Internet swindlers send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal information (credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, passwords or other sensitive data) from unsuspecting victims.

“Understand that fraudsters will use whatever means at their disposal to dupe an unsuspecting person into surrendering their personal information,” Commerce and Insurance Consumer Affairs Director Gary Cordell says.

“We even have seen emails claiming to be from the New York Division of Unemployment Assistance stating that the recipient of the email is required to supply information related to a former employee after clicking on a link. We contacted the agency and got confirmation that it was a phishing email,” Cordell says

Some phishing emails threaten a dire consequence if you don’t respond. The messages direct you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization’s site.

But it isn’t. It’s a bogus site whose sole purpose it to trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

Consumer Affairs offers these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

The Federal Trade Commission has an e-card that you can forward to your friends to warn them about phishing scams. The link is www.ftc.gov/phishing.

About Tennessee Consumer Affairs

Tennessee Consumer Affairs (www.tn.gov/consumer) is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which  works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/, @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), http://on.fb.me/uFQwUZ (Facebook), http://bit.ly/ry1GyX (YouTube)


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