Phishing, not Fishing!

Phishing scams – What are they? And some suggestions from my bank on how to avoid them:

Phishing attacks are "spoofed" e-mails and fraudulent websites designed to fool recipients into divulging personal fianancial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, social security numbers, etc.  By "hijacking" the trusted brsands of well-known banks, online retailesr and credit card companies, phishers are able to convince up to 5% of recipients to respond to them.

I’ve been tempted on a number of occasions and, having been burned a couple of times with credit card fraud, have learned to think twice about who is seeking this information. Even now, if in doubt, I forward the information to my web master or my accountant to ask their advice. Most recently, this occured with an e-mail from the Internal Revenue Service — NOT — and my accountant told me to delete the e-mail.

How to avoid such schemes

  • Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information
  • Don’t use the links in an e-mail to get to any web site if you’re not familiar with the sender or if you suspect the message is not authentic
  • Ensure that you’re using a secure website when submitting credit card information
  • The bank suggests checking your on-line accounts periodically to confirm the activity and the balances are correct
  • My suggestion is not to have on-line accounts; I do not do on-line banking because of my concerns for such fraud, despite banks saying their activities are safe
  • When you make purchases on-line, and you use credit cards, provide the information only once for that activity and do not maintain an open account with that vendor
  • Ensure that you have up to date security patches
  • Report the phishing e-mail to
    • Federal Trade Commission at
    • notify the Internet Fraud Complaint Center of the FBI by filing a complaint on their website:

It should go without saying, but I’ll be explicit in my observation:  Much fraud continues unabated because individuals (lawyers) fail to review and reconcile their bank accounts timely, at least once per month; fail to check their credit card statements and match the carbon copies/receipts (that they signed when purchasing goods or services) each month; accept the total due set forth in statements without verifying their accuracy!  If you were to take the simple precautions of checking the documents (including bank reconciliations) and matching receipts, you would be amazed at how much money you could save, fraud you could prevent and aggravation you could avoid! And, in some cases, prevent embezzlement that could lead to disbarment!

Report theft to, and, the three credit reporting agencies.


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