The federal banking, thrift, and credit union regulatory agencies have published an informational brochure to assist consumers in identifying and preventing a new type of Internet fraud known as "phishing."
Phishing involves the fraudulent acquisition and use of an individual's personal or financial information. In a common type of phishing scam, individuals receive e-mail messages that appear to have been initiated by their financial institution. These messages may look authentic and often include the institution's logo and marketing slogans. The e-mail messages usually describe a situation that requires immediate attention and state that the accounts will be terminated unless the recipients verify their account information immediately by clicking on a provided web link.
The web link then takes the e-mail recipients to a screen that asks for personal or financial information including account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, place of birth, or other information used to identify the consumers. Those perpetrating the fraud then use this information to access consumers' accounts or assume the consumers' identities.
The brochure explains the basics of "phishing," the steps consumers can take to protect themselves, and the actions that consumers can take if they become a victim of identity theft. The brochure, Internet Pirates Are Trying to Steal Your Information (PDF), is available in a downloadable form through the Federal Reserve Board's Web site at http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumers.htm.
The brochure also advises consumers:
Reserve Banks are asked to distribute this guidance to banking organizations supervised by the Federal Reserve. If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Suzanne Killian, Manager, Oversight Section, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, (202) 452-2090, Adrienne Haden, Manager, Operational and Information Technology Risk, Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation, (202) 452-2058, or Donna Parker, Supervisory Financial Analyst, Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation, (202) 452-2614.