It's a new year, and with the new year comes renewed efforts by scammers to try and rip you off.  The Federal Trade Commission reminds every one to be aware of their tactics. 

If you get contacted by a familiar company saying it's time to update your account information, be very wary.  Usually scammers will use e mail to communicate things like your information is out of date and all you need to do is click on the link to update.

Before you click on a link or share any of your sensitive information, follow these steps from the FTC:

  • Check it out. If you have concerns about the email, contact the company directly. But look up their phone number or website yourself. That way, you’ll know you’re getting the real company and not about to call a scammer or follow a link that will download malware.
  • Take a closer look. While some phishing emails look completely legit, bad grammar and spelling can tip you off to phishing. Other clues: Your name is missing, or you don’t even have an account with the company.
  • Report phishing emails. Forward them to spam@uce.gov (an address used by the FTC) and to reportphishing@apwg.org (an address used by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, which includes ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies).  Also, let the company or person that was impersonated know about the phishing scheme.

Basically, use common sense and be especially skeptical whenever you are solicited to provide any sensitive information.