Phishing Scams

What are Phishing Scams?

What are Phishing Scams?

Phishing scams are a relatively new form of Internet fraud that are becoming increasingly prevalent. This high-tech scam uses spam or pop-up messages to trick users into disclosing credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number or other confidential information.


How do Phishing Scams Work?

Phishers send an e-mail or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you might deal with - for instance, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), online payment services or bank. Often, this e-mail or pop-up window is very official looking and might even contain a corporate logo. The message usually indicates the need to "update" or "validate" your account information. It then directs you to a Web site that looks just like a legitimate organization's site, but it isn't. When you visit the Web site, it requests personal information that the operators then use to steal your identity or commit crimes in your name.

Phishing Video


How Can I Avoid a Phishing Scam?

  • If you receive an e-mail or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, don't reply or click on the link in the message. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number that you know to be legitimate.
  • Don't send personal or financial information via e-mail.
  • Review your credit card and bank account statements often to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges.
  • Use anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date. Some phishing e-mails can contain software will harm your computer. Additionally, this software can track your Internet browsing habits without your knowledge. Up-to-date anti-virus software can help protect your computer from inadvertently accepting these types of files.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from e-mail you receive, regardless of who sent them.
  • If you believe you've been a victim of a phishing scam, file a complaint at, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft Web site to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft.

For more information, visit the Anti-Phishing Working Group Web site.