McGraw

CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office is warning West Virginians to not respond to e-mail scams.

Last week, McGraw's office received an e-mail claiming to be from the Bank of America claiming their online account had been temporarily suspended after too many failed login attempts. The e-mail was sent with an attached form which instructed the recipient to provide personal information, including date of birth, Social Security number, mother's maiden name and credit card number.

According to a press release from McGraw's office, West Virginians are receiving similar e-mails daily. McGraw urges citizens not to respond to the e-mails.

"It [phishing] involves Internet fraudsters who send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal information from unsuspecting victims," McGraw said.

Phishers send an e-mail or pop-up message that claims to be from a business organization that you may deal with, asking you to update, validate, or confirm your account information. The messages direct to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization's site, but is not.

The AG's office released the following suggested tips to avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

* If you receive an e-mail asking for personal or financial information, do not reply or click any links in the message. Legitimate companies do not ask for this information via e-mail.

* Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send an e-mail that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a refund. Because they use voice over Internet protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are.

* Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them regularly.

* Do not e-mail personal or financial information. E-mail is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's Web site, look for indicators that the site is secure.

* Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.

* Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from e-mail you receive.

* Forward spam that is phishing for information to spam@uce.gov and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing e-mail.

If you believe you've been scammed, McGraw's office also encourages you to file a complaint with his office at www.wvago.gov or by calling its toll-free number at 1-800-368-8000.

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