Volume 1 Number 4
January 26, 2004



Federal Trade Commission

Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Web Site
A comprehensive site for consumers, businesses, and law enforcement including tips, publications, national statistics, how to report ID theft, and more.



Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is warning consumers to beware of phone calls or e-mails from people claiming to represent their bank, credit union or credit card company and asking for help in verifying or updating personal account information.

“Scam artists are trying to trick consumers into giving out personal and financial information, either over the phone or through the Internet,” Gallagher said.  “Consumers should verify this kind of request with their financial institution immediately.”

Recent examples include:

  • Bank customers receiving e-mails informing them their accounts were placed on hold for security measure maintenance. Users were directed to a phony web site and asked to enter account information.

  • Credit card customers were sent an e-mail from “customer support,” with the bank’s e-mail extension, directing them to a web site for a “technical update” to re-activate their account by entering personal information.

  • Customers were told their financial institution had lost their online banking user name and password. The e-mail asked them to go to a Web site and re-enter the information.

Often, the scams involve elaborate impersonations - including complete copies of web sites, corporate logos, letterhead, and other official-looking documents. Computer-savvy con-artists use subtle tricks such as including hyperlinks that say the customer is going to one web site but actually connect users to an imposter.

Other recent schemes involve an individual posing as a credit card representative over the phone.  The scam artist gains the consumer’s trust by appearing to offer warnings about a possible fraudulent account charge.  The individual then attempts to “verify” account information or that the consumer is in possession of the card by asking for the credit card numbers or other personal and financial information.  Genuine credit card representatives will never ask for this kind of information over the phone; they already have it.

Gallagher offered the following advice to avoid falling prey to these scams:

  • If you receive such an e-mail or a phone call, go to the official web site for the financial institution by typing its URL directly in the address bar of your web browser, not by clicking any hyperlink in an email or an address given by the caller.

  • If you're still uncertain, e-mail or call the company's customer support department, and ask them to confirm the authenticity of the request.

  • If you have received similar e-mails or phone calls or you suspect a scam, call the Florida Department of Financial Services help line at 1-800-342-2762.