Chicago, IL, January 15, 2008 - The FBI has alerted the public that consumers have been receiving spam emails allegedly coming from various FBI executives and the Internet Crime Complaint Center in an attempt to defraud consumers.
Some of these emails claim to be an “official order” from the FBI’s alleged Anti Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division or an alleged FBI unit based in Nigeria. In reality, neither of these groups exist. These emails notify the addressee that they have become the recipient of millions of dollars. Instructions to provide personal information including name, banking information, phone number and a copy of one’s passport are required in order to collect the money. These emails also claim that if the recipient does not provide this documentation they will face a penalty.
“In cooperation with the FBI, the Better Business Bureau is alerting consumers in the area about this scam in order to help prevent identity fraud,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.
If you receive a legitimate-looking email that supposedly comes from the FBI or any other institution asking you to confirm or update personal information you are being set-up to become a victim of a phishing scam. Such a scam involves sending unsolicited, fraudulent emails that appear to be from a legitimate company that you may recognize and even regularly do business with.
Often these emails contain corporate logos that appear to be genuine and include links that will supposedly take you to the company’s legitimate website. Most often however, the link takes you to a "look-alike" site and into the hands of identity thieves.
To prevent falling for such a scam the BBB offers these tips to consumers:
- Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail. Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting personal information via e-mail. Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits information.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail and be cautious of attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- If you get an e-mail that warns you, with little to no notice, that an account of yours will be shut down unless you reconfirm your billing information, do not reply or click on the link in the e-mail. Instead, contact the company referenced in the e-mail using a telephone number or web site address you know to be genuine.
- Avoid e-mailing personal and financial information. If you have determined the web site to be legitimate and do decide to submit financial information, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar. It signals that your information is secure during transmission.
- Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site or go to www.bbb.org.
Bernas said, “Consumers are further advised to delete emails from unknown senders without opening them, as they may contain attachments that may release a virus in your computer to track personal information.”
It is also strongly recommended to regularly review all account statements, including online banking statements, to verify that all charges are accurate and correct, and to check for any suspicious activity.
If you believe you have been scammed, report the suspicious activity to BBB at www.bbb.org.