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Phishing Scams Prevalent: Take Care Opening Email

May 20, 2014 - 6:00pm

We have all received phishing scams, even though you may not realize it. How many times has a legitimate-looking email come to your in-box asking you to confirm or provide financial information?

But before you click on the email, there is something you should remember: a legitimate company will not solicit personal, financial or confidential information from you by using automated or unsecure lines of communication.

Financial fraud can lurk in places you least expect. While phishing is not a new or emerging scam, it is prevalent. As technology advances, so do the scammers, making this type of phishing email seem plausible at first glance. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) urges all Floridians to be aware of phishing scams and cautious when opening your email.

Phishing is when a scammer pretends to be a business in an attempt to trick you into giving out personal financial or confidential information. The company name and logo may even be a legitimate company that is unaware their name and logo is being used for fraudulent purposes. Methods of phishing include emails, pop-up messages on websites, and even texting. Typically, the requested information consists of passwords, bank account numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs), Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and debit or ATM card numbers.

One example of a popularly received phishing scam email is a notice to vacate property. The email may state that the property you occupy has been foreclosed upon and you must leave within 10 days. There may be a fake form attached to the email to dispute the foreclosure. Another often received phishing scam email is a bank notice that there is a problem with your account. Usually, a link directs you to a fraudulent website in order to collect your personal financial information.

There are a few steps you can take if you receive a phishing-scam email: Dont click on any attachments or links, report the phishing scam to the legitimate company or financial institution using verified contact information from financial statements, and delete the email and blacklist the senders email address.

You can report phishing email to the Federal Trade Commission at or to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, which is made up of industry, government and law enforcement agencies, at

Drew J. Breakspear is commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.

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