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With the sensitive information obtained from successful phishing and pharming scams, thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards or even driver's licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. Phishers and pharmers are able to convince up to 5% of recipients to respond to them.
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"Phishing" - This type of Internet piracy is called "phishing." It's pronounced "fishing," and that's exactly what these thieves are doing: "fishing" for your personal financial information. Phishing attacks are "spoofed" e-mails designed to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, Social Security numbers, etc.
"Pharming" - This type of Internet piracy attempts to take advantage of slight misspellings in domain names to trick users into inadvertently visiting the pharmer's fraudulent website. For example, a pharmer may redirect a user to instead of, the site the user intended to access. In some cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial institution.
Here's how it works: In a typical case, you'll receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the e-mail may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.

The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention or your account will be shut down unless you reconfirm certain information. It may use phrases, such as "Immediate attention required," or "Please contact us immediately about your account." The e-mail will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution's website.

In either case (phishing or pharming), you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother's maiden name or your place of birth.

Warning Signs:
  • fraudulent charges on your credit card
  • credit card or financial statements don't arrive
  • bills arrive for goods or services you didn't request
  • suspicious inquiries on your credit report
  • phone calls from creditors
  • suddenly denied credit
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