The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation is warning Michigan consumers of several different types of phishing scams related to financial institutions and transactions.
Phishing is an attempt, through electronic communication, to acquire personal information such as social security numbers, account numbers, usernames and passwords by posing as a legitimate entity.
"Consumers need to have their guard up 24/7 and be cautious of any electronic communication appearing to be from a financial institution," OFIR Commissioner Kevin Clinton said.
"Creative cyber crooks are using websites, emails and text messages to entice account holders into divulging sensitive personal information," said in a statement.
There are number of different variations of financial phishing scams, including:
- Scammers claiming to be banks or credit unions, have phished for victims by using consumer email addresses that contain identifying employment and educational information. Through emails, scammers have sought personal financial information by notifying consumers that there are issues with their accounts.
- Posing as a legitimate financial institution, fraudsters have targeted consumers using cell phone area codes to send text messages notifying them that that there is problem with their account. Consumers are instructed to call toll-free numbers where they are asked to provide personal information. This tactic may also be called "smishing."
- Scam artists are using many different types of fraudulent emails claiming to be from the FDIC, the Federal Reserve and other federal financial agencies. The bogus emails have included notifications regarding the closing of accounts, problems with financial transactions and issues involving wire transfers. In many instances, the emails direct consumers to phony websites containing malware, which infects computers and attempts to steal personal information.
The Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation suggests these tips to help consumers avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:
- If you get an email, text message or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on any links.
- If you are concerned about your financial accounts, contact your institution using a telephone number you know to be genuine or visit the institution in person. You can confirm information regarding financial institutions by contacting the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation at 1-877-999-6442 or checking online at www.michigan.gov/ofir.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly.
- Don't email personal or financial information.
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges.
- Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
If Michigan consumers think they may have uncovered or become a victim of a financial phishing scam, they should call the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation's toll-free consumer hotline 1-877-999-6442.
For more information about the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, visit www.michigan.gov/lara.