What Should Internet Users Do About Phishing Schemes?
The Department of Justice recommends that Internet users follow three simple rules when
they see e-mails or websites that may be part of a phishing scheme:
Stop, Look, and Call.
Phishers typically include upsetting or exciting (but false) statements in their emails
with one purpose in mind. They want people to react immediately to that false
information, by clicking on the link and inputting the requested data before they take time
to think through what they are doing. Internet users, however, need to resist that impulse
to click immediately. No matter how upsetting or exciting the statements in the e-mail
may be, there is always enough time to check out the information more closely.
Internet users should look more closely at the claims made in the e-mail, think
about whether those claims make sense, and be highly suspicious if the e-mail asks for
numerous items of their personal information such as account numbers, usernames, or
passwords. For example:
• If the e-mail indicates that it comes from a bank or other financial institution
where you have a bank or credit-card account, but tells you that you have to enter
your account information again, that makes no sense. Legitimate banks and
financial institutions already have their customers' account numbers in their
records. Even if the e-mail says a customer's account is being terminated, the real
bank or financial institution will still have that customer's account number and
• If the e-mail says that you have won a prize or are entitled to receive some special
“deal,” but asks for financial or personal data, there is good reason to be highly
suspicious. Legitimate companies that want to give you a real prize don’t ask you
for extensive amounts of personal and financial information before you're entitled
to receive it.
If the e-mail or website purports to be from a legitimate company or financial
institution, Internet users should call or e-mail that company directly and ask whether the
e-mail or website is really from that company. To be sure that they are contacting the
company or institution where they have accounts, credit-card
accountholders can call the toll-free customer numbers on the backs of
their cards, and bank customers can call
the telephone numbers on their bank statements.