Identity Theft by Phishing
Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan
by Frank W. Abagnale

Stealing Your Life is more frightening than a gory murder mystery. Any one of us, from cradle to grave, is vulnerable to a swindle that can wreck us emotionally, cost us serious money, ruin our credit ratings, and take us years to straighten out. Identity theft is here to stay, and as long as legislators, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and individuals fail to take it seriously, the number of victims will continue to climb.

For thirty-two years, the author has been a law-abiding citizen; his criminal past, famously recounted in the book and film "Catch Me If You Can," is a distant memory. However, he knows how crooks think, and this knowledge has led to a lucrative career as a consultant for the FBI and corporations all over the world in preventing frauds and scams. Abagnale is horrified at how easy and tempting identity theft is for the budding criminal. He calls it "a crook's dream come true."

     

Identity Theft by Phishing


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Identity Theft by Phishing

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Tax Net Inc., a Colorado Corporation, operating under the trade names of CPA Moms and Tax Moms. Tax Net Inc., collects nonpublic personal information about you, and your family, if applicable, in order to properly prepare and complete your requested tax returns and to use your tax return as collateral for a loan, if applicable. Tax Net Inc., is committed to prevent Indentity Theft in other form.

Tax Net Inc., collect Information from your loan applications, W2’s, tax preparation worksheets and other documents, such as interview information forms and client organizers whether submitted by you or completed on your behalf for the used in the preparation of your tax return and other tax related products.

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Tax Net Inc., maintains physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards that comply with the federal standards to guard your nonpublic personal information. If you decide to close your account(s) or become an inactive customer, Tax Net Inc., will adhere to the privacy policies and practices as noted above.

The Financial Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the "Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act" or GLB Act, includes provisions to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions. There are three principal parts to the privacy requirements: the Financial Privacy Rule, Safeguards Rule and pretexting provisions.

The GLB Act gives authority to eight federal agencies and the states to administer and enforce the Financial Privacy Rule and the Safeguards Rule. These two regulations apply to "financial institutions," which include not only banks, securities firms, and insurance companies, but also companies providing many other types of financial products and services to consumers. Among these services are lending, brokering or servicing any type of consumer loan, transferring or safeguarding money, preparing individual tax returns, providing financial advice or credit counseling, providing residential real estate settlement services, collecting consumer debts and an array of other activities. Such non-traditional "financial institutions" are regulated by the FTC.

The Financial Privacy Rule governs the collection and disclosure of customers' personal financial information by financial institutions. It also applies to companies, whether or not they are financial institutions, who receive such information. For a summary overview of the Financial Privacy Rule.

The Safeguards Rule requires all financial institutions to design, implement and maintain safeguards to protect customer information. The Safeguards Rule applies not only to financial institutions that collect information from their own customers, but also to financial institutions "such as credit reporting agencies" that receive customer information from other financial institutions.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a scam where Internet fraudsters send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. To avoid getting hooked:

  • Don't reply to email or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information, and don't click on links in the message. Don't cut and paste a link from the message into your Web browser — phishers can make links look like they go one place, but that actually send you to a different site.
  • Some scammers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a "refund." Because they use Voice over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly.
  • Don't email personal or financial information.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
  • Forward phishing emails to spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. You also may report phishing email to reportphishing@antiphishing.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.
  • If you've been scammed, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft.

How Not To Get Hooked by a "Phishing" Scam

"We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity."

"During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn't verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information."

Have you received email with a similar message? It's a scam called "phishing" — and it involves Internet fraudsters who send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal information (credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information) from unsuspecting victims.

According to OnGuard Online, phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you may deal with — for example, an Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message may ask you to "update," "validate," or "confirm" your account information. Some phishing emails threaten a dire consequence if you don't respond. The messages direct you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization's site. But it isn't. It's a bogus site whose sole purpose is to trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

OnGuard Online suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And don't click on the link in the message, either. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address yourself. In any case, don't cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser — phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different site.
  • Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send emails that appear to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a "refund." Because they use Voice over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card. And delete any emails that ask you to confirm or divulge your financial information.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge.
    Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
    A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Operating systems (like Windows or Linux) or browsers (like Internet Explorer or Netscape) also may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
  • Don't email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer's security.
  • Forward phishing emails to spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems. You also may report phishing email to reportphishing@antiphishing.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.
  • If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft. Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft. While you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these new accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You may catch an incident early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the three major credit reporting companies. See www.annualcreditreport.com for details on ordering a free annual credit report.

Learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam at ftc.gov/spam.

How to Report if You Have Been a Victim of a Phishing Scam

Forward spam that is phishing for information to spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems.

If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint with the FTC, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft. Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft.

You also may report phishing email to reportphishing@antiphishing.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.

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