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Topics addressed on October 29, 2008:
FTC consumer alert a “must read”
From time to time I come across information from other reliable sources that I think is important to share. A recent consumer alert from the Federal Trade Commission is one that I think everyone should read.
“Bank Failures, Mergers and Takeovers: A ‘Phish-erman’s Special’” provides some very valuable advice that can help you avoid scams that attempt to capitalize on the turbulence in the financial markets.
The wave of bank mergers and consolidations has created an ideal environment for scam artists to try to bilk you out of your identity and hard-earned money. The basic message of the FTC’s alert is to be wary of any email claiming to be from your bank, especially if it is asking for personal information.
You may receive legitimate emails from your bank or other sources that request personal information, including your Social Security number. For example, a lender that has suffered a security breach may offer you a complimentary Experian credit monitoring service that asks for that information to enroll you.
You may also receive emails if you have subscribed to an Experian credit monitoring service alerting you to activity in your credit history. You may be asked to provide your identifying information to access your account in response to the email alert.
If you have any doubts as to the validity of the email, before responding contact your lender or the credit monitoring service directly using the customer service numbers from your billing statement or their Web site to verify they sent it.
Here are just a few of the tips from the FTC’s alert:
Watch for requests to “update,” “validate” or “confirm” your account information or identity in emails claiming to be from your lender or from a bank claiming to have acquired your lender. Your true lender or new account owner would already have that information.
Don’t reply to an email or pop-up message asking for personal information, and don’t click on links in the message.
If you get a telephone message or email from someone claiming to represent your bank, don’t call them back. Instead, call your lender directly using the customer service number on your billing statement.
Never email personal information or financial information. Email is not secure.
You can find more information and greater detail in the FTC’s alert.
Thanks for reading.
- The "Ask Experian" team