Saturday, March 3, 2012, AM | 1 Comment
Over the past month or two, I have been receiving emails claiming to be my bank and my credit card company. In one email they claim the bank has merged with another bank. They want me to update my account information so that the supposedly two-merged banks can consolidate customer accounts. They can’t do it unless I give them my bank personal information.
The present economic crisis has many Americans worried about the safety of their bank accounts and investments. At the same time and because of that, there are scam artists who have wasted no time trying to profit from the crisis of the day.
A flurry of bogus emails, called phishing, scams to steal identity. Two of the emails I have received are making the rounds. The aim is to snag or pull customers from JP Morgan Chase, which acquired the failed Washington Mutual savings bank more than two years ago.
Think before you open email…
In one e-mail, the subject line reads, “Account review – Chase Team identified some unusual activity in your account.” In the other, it reads, “You have 1 new ALERT message.” Both tell their targets to click on a link that takes them to a phony website, where they are asked to update their bank accounts by revealing personal information, including bank account number, PIN and Social Security Number.
Another email is supposedly from Wachovia, acquired by Wells Fargo. Recipients are told to download software for its “Wachovia Security Plus” protection. But doing so releases a virus that could infect your computer. It could track your passwords and other personal information.
Media reported right after Hurricane Katrina…
If you remember, the media had reported that in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, millions of Americans received fake e-mails claiming to be from charitable organizations soliciting donations. When the government distributed stimulus checks a couple of years ago, the IRS became the target.
Banks generally don’t send email for account information…
Although banks never send out e-mails asking customers to update their account information, such bogus requests defrauded consumers of more than $3 billion last year. It’s hard to believe but it’s true. They were often sent by overseas scam artists who are hard to trace and nearly impossible to prosecute.
Be on alert from incoming e-mails from online investment newsletters. They will offer to join online bulletin boards recommending “stock picks.” Although some are genuine, others are tools for fraud.
In a Nutshell
If you believe that your bank, investment or credit card account has been jeopardized, contact the firm directly. Never hit reply on the e-mail. Enter the firm online address yourself – manually – or call the phone number on your regular statement.
Your best protection always is to delete – without opening – any of these messages.