"During our routine verification of accounts, we couldn't verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your account information and avoid losing access."
Have you received email with a similar message?  

"Phishing" is a scam where phishers send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. Phishing hackers use this technique to obtain all kinds of personal information. Like traditional fishing, it relies on the recipient taking the bait and clicking on the link. Following are some suggestions to avoid taking the bait.

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Legitimate companies or institutions will not ask for this information in an email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a phone number you know to be authentic (look at an old bill if you have one) or open a Internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari) and manually type in the correct Web address yourself.

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You might get an email that appears to be legitimate where they are asking you to call a phone number to update your account information or to access a refund. With VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need to reach an organization, use the number on your statements or on the back of your credit card. Delete random emails that ask you to confirm or divulge any financial information.

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You get automatic updates here on campus, but on personal computers and laptops it is important to have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all on a regular basis. Some phishing emails may contain harmful software that can track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge.

It is also important to update your Operating System and Internet browsers to close holes in your system that could be exploited.

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Email, by definition, is public.
Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal or financial information. If you do your banking or shopping online, look for indicators that the site is secure. For instance, check the web address in the address bar of your browser, it should begin with "https://" (the "s" stands for secure) or look for the lock icon in your browser's status bar.

Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons!


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Be proactive and review your credit card and bank statements as soon as you get them for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your bank or credit card company to confirm your billing address and account balances.

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Be very careful about opening attachments or downloading files from emails that you receive, regardless of who sent them. One of the most common means by which computer viruses and worms spread is through email attachments. When opened, these attachments can give hackers complete control of your machine, or intiate an attack on another machine, or start sending out copies of itself to email addresses it finds on your hard drive - or all of the above.

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If you feel that you have a suspicious email, forward it to spam@uce.gov. The FTC uses the spam stored in this database to pursue law enforcement actions against people who send deceptive email.  For more information visit: Federal Trade Commission's SPAM page

If you feel that you have been scammed, you can file your complaint at ftc.gov, and then visit FTC's Identity Theft website. Victims of phishing can also become victims of identity theft. You might be able to catch suspicious activity early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the three major credit bureaus. For details on ordering a free annual credit report, see annualcreditreport.com.

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