Increased identity theft risk

Nervous banking customers on Main Street may already be receiving e-mails from their banks regarding recent merger activity. The problem is, such emails may not have been sent by their banks. Longtime customers of Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, and countless banks affected by the recent financial crisis have been nervously checking their emails for updates on the status of their accounts. Unfortunately, that exposes vulnerable consumers to phishing attacks.

Depositors may not be able to discern a counterfeit phishing message sent by scam artists, from one sent by a bank they trust. Phishing e-mails usually look like official bank emails. They demand that the recipient respond with sensitive information, such as account number, social security number and password. With that information, the thief can begin to steal money from the recipient, or use the recipient’s identity malevolently.

Phishers have long posed as banks in emails and on websites in order to acquire sensitive information. Now with major banks roiling, the susceptibility of internet users to bank phishing may never have been higher.

Comodo offers the following advice to consumers particularly during this vulnerable period:

  • Delete, without opening, any emails from unfamiliar financial institutions.
  • Even if they look authentic, suspect any emails that request you to respond with personal information.
  • Do not click on any links on such emails.

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