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Protect Yourself from Email, Mail and Phone Fraud

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Have you ever received a request for personal information from someone you didn’t know?

How about an email asking you to follow a link for details about a tempting offer?

Or what about a letter stating you won a sweepstakes that you never entered?

Chances are a criminal was trying to steal your personal information or commit fraud against you.

How can you protect yourself against such email, mail and phone scams?

First and foremost, know who you’re interacting with before you reveal any personal information such as credit card or bank account details, Social Security numbers, passwords and other sensitive data. Reputable companies won’t contact you by phone or email asking you to provide this information.

An action plan to deter common scams

  • Ignore emails and pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information. Messages and screens can be created to appear as if they came from legitimate businesses when they actually are the work of online criminals.

  • Avoid Internet links in unexpected or unfamiliar emails. Links can be crafted to go to a different location than they appear to, where viruses or malicious software (malware) can be loaded onto your computer.

  • Don’t provide personal information if you receive a phone call or voice mail that appears suspicious. You might not be able to tell where the phone call originated because displayed caller names and area codes can be faked.

  • If you receive a letter about a too-good-to-be-true offer or sweepstakes you don’t recall entering, it’s best to ignore it.

Still think the message is trustworthy?

If you believe a request received via email, mail or phone might be legitimate, here are a few ways you can be certain information you provide is going to the right place:

  • Open a new Web browser session and carefully type the company’s correct Web address. Once you’re on the company’s website, verify the information you received.

  • Call the business at a number you know is correct, such as a phone number from your financial statement or the back of your credit/debit card. It’s much safer to provide information when you initiate the call.

If you have any suspicions about a message, no matter how it was received (email, mail or phone) or how legitimate it sounds, it’s always best to thoroughly check it out or simply ignore it.

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