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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2004
Consumer Alert: Phishing Scams Increase


SEATTLE -- The Attorney General’s Office is warning consumers to beware of “phishing” scammers on the Internet. Phishing is an attempt to trick consumers into disclosing personal and/or financial information.

The emails appear to come from legitimate financial institutions, such as U.S. Bank and Citibank. Many of these schemes contain links to “look-alike” websites that are loaded with actual trademarked images. The websites then instruct consumers to “re-enter” their credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank PINs, or other personal information.

“Our consumer resource centers across the state are reporting an increase of phishing complaints lately,” said High Tech Manager, Steve Larsen. “So far, most consumers are savvy enough to catch the scam without buying into it.”

Caution is urged when receiving any requests for personal information. Consumers can use these tips to spot a suspicious phishing email:

  • Be skeptical of warnings that accounts will be shut down if you don’t reconfirm your billing address.
  • Don’t click on the link – contact the company directly using a legitimate telephone number or website.
  • Look at the “address bar” at the top of the browser; it is often a different domain name than the firm being represented.

If you think you’ve already disclosed personal information:

  • Carefully check credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges each month.
  • Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and ask that a “fraud alert” be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.

For more information about phishing visit our Consumer Protection Web site

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