With the recent possible theft of millions of email addresses from a Dallas-based advertising company, several large companies behind brands such as Chase, Best Buy and Verizon worry that hackers may target their customers to obtain account log-in information.
For that reason, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to warn Arkansans to watch for attempts by con artists to retrieve their personal information via fraudulent email messages. This scheme is referred to as “phishing.”
“While phishing schemes are not new, con artists continue to come up with new ways to trick consumers into handing over sensitive information. An information breach such as what occurred with the firm in Dallas can give these con artists a huge pool of targets to attempt to con,” McDaniel said. “The email address by itself is not the sort of personalized information which will lead to identity theft, but it does give the identity thief an advantage in his scheme to ’phish’ for what he needs to steal your identity.”
Many phishing schemes contact random people via email designed to look like it comes from an entity, such as a bank, with which the consumer regularly does business. If the “phisher” can convince the consumer to log in to what looks like a valid website account with his user name and password, the fraudulent site captures the information, enabling the person behind the scheme to access the real accounts.
If con artists have the actual email addresses of bank or retail customers, which is the threat posed by the recent information breach, they will be able to be much more convincing in their efforts because they will know that their target does have an account with a specific business.
“If you suspect there is a problem with your email account or if you get one of these emails, do not panic and do not reply with your personal information,” McDaniel advised.
Instead, to avoid falling for a phishing scam, use these tips:
• Do not give sensitive information in response to an unsolicited request for it.
• Independently contact the bank or retailer identified in the email to confirm that the email does not come from that entity.
• Delete the “phishing” email.
• If you have questions or concerns about an email you suspect is a “phish” or any other email message, contact the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General’s Office with questions or concerns at 501-682-2341 or 800-482-8982, or by filing a complaint online at www.ArkansasAG.gov .