Frequently Asked Phishing Questions

Q:What is Phishing?

A: Phishing is an attempt, using fraudulent e-mail or website pop-ups, to get you to divulge sensitive financial information such as credit card numbers, account numbers, user names, passwords, or social security numbers. Phishing differs from virus or worm attacks in that e-mail or pop-up itself is innocuous, and cannot grab your personal information from your system without your knowing it. Instead, phishing relies on old-fashioned con artist tricks to get you to give up the information voluntarily. This information is used to steal your identity and run up bills in your name. Phishing is on the rise, with over 2,500 active phishing sites reported in early 2005.

Q:How does it work?

A: Generally the e-mail or pop-up will be cleverly crafted to look like it came from a financial institution, regulatory agency or other online company, such as PayPal or eBay that you trust. It will ask you to verify account information within the body of the email or direct you to a website that fakes the look of the company's website. Often times these fakes are very good. Any information you enter will be sent to the perpetrators of the fraud.

Q:How do I protect myself?

A: The best protection against phishing scams is to be cautious in how you share sensitive financial or personal information. Be skeptical of any e-mail or pop-up that asks for personal information. Anti-SPAM filters block many phishing e-mails, and pop-up blockers can limit the number of pop-ups you get, but no technology can prevent you from falling for the con. Legitimate businesses are very aware of phishing, and do not send e-mails requesting sensitive information. Do not reply to the e-mail, or follow any of the links. If you think the request might be genuine, confirm it either by calling the company directly at a number you know, or go directly to the company's website by typing a known address in the browser window. When evaluating an e-mail message requesting personal information, try to imagine it as an unsolicited telephone call. If you wouldn't give that information over the telephone to an unknown caller, don't give it out in response to an unsolicited e-mail.

Always ensure that you're using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your Web browser. To make sure you're on a secure Web server, check the beginning of the Web address in your browsers address bar - it should be "https://" rather than just "http://" and have a "lock" in the bottom corner.

Q:What should I do if I've given out information to Phishers?

A: Cancel lost credit cards immediately. However, the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep a separate list where you can find it quickly and easily.

Report it to your financial institution if your checkbook is stolen.

File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your purse or wallet was stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and it is a first step toward an investigation if one is required.

If you believe your Social Security number has been compromised, call the Social Security Administration's fraud line to report it.

Contact credit-reporting agencies. This is perhaps the most important and least discussed step. Call the three national credit-reporting agencies immediately and ask them to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. With an alert in place, any company checking your credit knows your information was stolen and they must contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Q:How can I learn more?

A: There are a number of sites on the web that provide information about phishing.

The Anti-Phishing working group has excellent information relating to many different types of attacks on their Consumer Advice web page, at http://www.antiphishing.org/resources/.

For additional information about how to identify fraudulent emails and protect yourself go to this FTC consumer alert address, at onguardonline.gov/phishing.html.

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS & WEBSITES
Credit Reporting Agency Numbers
EquifaxTo report fraud call 888-766-0008
ExperianTo report fraud call 888-397-3742 /888-EXPERIAN
TransUnionTo report fraud call 800-680-7289
Other Numbers to Call if Fraud Is Suspected
Federal Trade CommissionWeb: www.consumer.gov/idtheft
Phone: 877-ID THEFT
Social Security AdministrationPhone: 800-269-0271
US Postal Inspection ServiceWeb: www.usps.com/postalinspectors

*Note... The above links will take you to external websites. The information provided by each of these services is the sole responsibility of the entity providing the information. The links to each entity is for the convenience of our customers. United Texas Bank makes no representation, warranty, or endorsement regarding the accuracy of the information provided. Any warranties or representations expressed or implied are hereby disclaimed in their entirety.

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