reporting online fraud
Fraudulent e-mails and Web sites are designed to deceive you and can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing. Disguised as legitimate e-mail and claiming to be from sources you trust, these messages attempt to entice you to provide various types of personal and confidential information, including online IDs and passcodes, Social Security numbers and account numbers. You should be suspicious of any e-mail that requests personal or account information of any kind. Should you receive such a message assume it is a scam. Do not respond to the sender and do not, under any circumstance, provide the requested information.
You may report any suspected illegal Internet activity to the Virginia Attorney General's office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
recognizing online fraud
Phony e-mail messages sent to you for the purpose of stealing personal and financial information are among the most common types of online fraud. Spotting these messages is not always easy and the criminals who use them are becoming more sophisticated about creating them. Phony e-mail messages may ask you to reply directly or click on a link that takes you to a fraudulent Web site that appears legitimate. In either case, they will generally ask you to provide sensitive personal, financial or account information.
Here are some tips for spotting phony e-mails and Web sites:
- False sense of urgency. Frequently, these e-mails try to deceive you with a threat that your account may be jeopardized if not updated immediately, or that it has been compromised. An e-mail that urgently requests you to provide, confirm, verify or authenticate your personal information immediately is typically fraudulent.
- Requests for security information. Fraudulent e-mails often claim that the bank has lost important security information that needs to be updated. They also may request that the user visit and update this information online.
- Fake links and attachments. Often phony e-mails will contain a link or an attachment that may look valid, but are not. To check where a link would take you, move your mouse over the link and watch for the URL in the bottom bar of the browser. If the URL looks suspicious, do not click it. Do not open any attachment contained in a suspicious e-mail (even an image or PDF).
- Typos and other errors. Fraudulent e-mails or Web sites may contain typographical or grammatical errors. The writing may also be awkward, stilted or inappropriate. The visual or design quality may be poor.
- Generic greeting. Typically the greeting will be a generic one such as "Dear Customer", although legitimate e-mails can carry this type of greeting as well.