If you're a victim of Phishing or other Online Scams

Follow these steps as soon as possible if you suspect that you've responded to a phishing scam with personal or financial information or entered personal information into a fake Web site, or if you discover you've been a victim of credit card fraud.

The faster you contact authorities, the more you can minimize the damage a scammer can do to your identity, your credit, and your bank account.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a type of deception designed to steal your identity. Online it is carried out by sending spam e-mail that appears to come from popular Web sites or sites you trust, like your bank or credit card company.

Phishers try to get you to disclose valuable personal data—like credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information—by convincing you to provide it under false pretenses. For details, see How to recognize a phishing scam.

Step 1: Close any affected accounts.

  Contact the genuine company if you believe you've given sensitive information to an unknown source masquerading as that real company.
  At every bank or financial institution you deal with, speak with the security department about any fraudulently accessed or opened accounts.
  At credit card companies, utilities, Internet service providers, and other places where you regularly use your credit card, speak with the security department.
  Follow up with a letter and save a copy for yourself

Step 2: Change the passwords on all your online accounts.

  Start with passwords that are related to financial institutions or information.
  Use these 5 tips to build strong passwords.

Step 3: Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

  Contact these three credit bureaus and ask that no new credit be granted without your approval.

  Equifax (800) 525-6285
  Experian (888) 397-3742
  TransUnion (800) 680-7289

  Make sure your account is flagged with a "fraud alert" tag and a "victim's statement." Insist that the alert remain active for the maximum of seven years.
  Get a copy of your report. Review your reports for inquiries you didn't initiate, accounts you didn't open, and unexplained debts.
  Send these requests in writing and keep copies for yourself.

Step 4: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

  File a complaint. Call the FTC's toll-free Identity Theft Hotline at (877) ID-THEFT or (877) 438-4338.
  Download and print the FTC's Identity Theft affidavit. Fill it out and send it to credit card agencies to help minimize your responsibility for any debts incurred by those who stole your identity.
  Get a copy of your report. Review your reports for inquiries you didn't initiate, accounts you didn't open, and unexplained debts.
  File a report with your local police department. Get a copy of the police report to notify your bank, credit card company, and other creditors that you are a victim of a crime, not a credit abuser.

Tip: Record and save everything.

  Always make print copies of documents related to the fraud for yourself—including e-mail messages, written correspondence, and records of telephone calls.
  For telephone or in-person conversations, follow up with dated confirmation letters to the organization. State what was covered in the conversation, and list any follow-up items that you or the representative committed to.

Additional resources

  Fraud.org, the National Fraud Information Center.  Call (800) 876-7060.
  U.S. Department of JusticeeID Theft kit
  Privacyrights.com provides a detailed 17-step plan to follow if your ID is stolen.
  Identity Theft Resource Center

The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), works worldwide with law enforcement and industry to promptly shut down phishing sites and identify the perpetrators behind the fraud.





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