DENVER – As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers issued a general warning to consumers to be on the lookout for a series of new Internet e-mail scams designed to steal important personal information. These unsolicited e-mail messages appear to be from a bank or security company and seek to “verify” certain personal information about the recipient.
“Identity thieves use these unsolicited e-mail scams to trick consumers into revealing social security numbers, bank account numbers and personal identification numbers,” said Attorney General Suthers. “These scams are referred to as ‘phishing,’” said Suthers, “because thieves send out millions of these e-mails at a time hoping to hook just a small number of consumers into revealing personal information.”
Attached to this Press Release are copies of two recent phishing scams shared with the Attorney General’s Office. The e-mails claim to be from national banks attempting to “reduce the instance (sic) of fraud” or to check for unauthorized access to an account. “Of course these websites are completely phony,” said Attorney General Suthers. “Consumers should take the following steps to avoid becoming a victim of these scams,” concluded Suthers.
First, never respond to unsolicited e-mails asking you to confirm or check on your account information. Legitimate banks and other lenders will NEVER contact you for that information.
Second, ignore “pop-up” advertisements or messages on the Internet that direct you to a web page asking you to verify personal or account information.
Finally, if you think you have become a victim of identity theft, take immediate action to notify law enforcement and your legitimate creditors. A step-by-step guide for victims of identity theft is available on the Attorney General’s website. Go to www.ago.state.co.us/idtheft/welcome.htm and click on “What should I do if I become a victim of identity theft?”
A recent Federal Trade Commission report listed identity theft as the number one consumer complaint for 2004. According to that report, the Denver Metropolitan Area ranked 14th in the country for identity theft complaints during 2004, with 2,517. That report estimated that Colorado ranked 5th nationally in the number of identity theft victims per 100,000 residents. A complete copy of the FTC report on identity theft can be found at http://www.consumer.gov/sentinel/pubs/Top10Fraud2004.pdf
Text of two recent “phishing” scams forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office:
January 11, 2005
We recently reviewed your account, and suspect that your Washington Mutual Banking
account may have been accessed by an unauthorized third party.
Protecting the security of your account and of the network is our primary concern. Therefore, as a
preventative measure, we have temporarily limited access to sensitive account features.
To restore your account access, please take the following steps to ensure that your account has not been compromised:
1. Login to your account. In case you are not enrolled for Internet Banking, you will have to use your Social Security Number as both your Personal ID and Password and fill in all the required information, including your name and your account number.
2. Review your recent account history for any unauthorized withdrawals or deposits, and check your
account profile to make sure not changes have been made. If any unauthorized activity has taken place on your account, report this to Staff immediately.
To get started, please click the link below:
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and appreciate your assistance in helping us maintain the integrity of the entire Internet Banking. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
January 31, 2005Dear valued Citizens® Bank member,
> Due to concerns, for the safety and integrity of the online banking
> community we have issued the following warning message.
> It has come to our attention that your Citizens® account information needs
> to be updated as part of our continuing commitment to protect your account and
> to reduce the instance of fraud on our website. If you could please take
> 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and renew your records you will not
> run into any future problems with the online service. However, failure to
> confirm your records may result in your account suspension.
> Once you have confirmed your account records your internet banking service
> will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.
> To confirm your bank account record please click here.
> Thank you for your time,
> Citizens® Financial Group.