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E-mail phishing scams steal millions

 Clark Howard hosts a national talk radio show providing advice on financial and consumer matters.  As a regular part of this broadcast, listeners are often warned on scams that are circulating in the public.  This article appears in the latest Clark Howard newsletter discussing the need to be vigilant while processing email messages. 

Banks, ISPs, and financial institutions never process confidential information through email, so it's always important to validate these transactions even if the email appears to be authentic.     

E-mail phishing scams steal millions

Criminals are usually pretty stupid. But sometimes criminals are so brilliant that they seem unstoppable and indestructible. One recent crime wave involves “phishing” e-mails, and unfortunately criminals are having tremendous success with it.

What happens is these clever crooks send you an e-mail, pretending to be from your bank, credit card company, Internet service or auction site. They convince you that you need to verify your information by using very realistic graphics and phony but very believable Web sites. You think you’re verifying the information, but you’re really handing over your financial information criminals and they’re stealing your money.

According to Gardener Inc., criminals have stolen between $2 and $3 billion over the past year. The average amount stolen is about $1,200. The e-mails you receive are so realistic that people don’t even realize or remember that they have responded. Yet about one in 30 are responding. Whenever you get one of these official looking e-mails, don’t bite.

No organization would send you an e-mail like this. If you think your bank is contacting you, don’t click. Call your bank on the phone and ask someone. In many cases, if you get scammed, your bank will give you your money back. But in the meantime, you don’t have any money.