State says beware of the Capital One email phishing scam

Tue, 11/25/2008 - 6:28pm
By: The Citizen

Atlanta, GA – The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs is warming consumers about an email phishing scam designed to look like an alert from Capital One.

The email informs customers that their account may have been accessed from an unauthorized computer. Consumers are urged to click on a website link to verify their account activity.

This is the scam. The link goes to a website form, which looks legitimate, but is not associated with Capital One.

Customers are asked to provide their name, address, credit card number, signature panel code, social security number, date of birth and mother’s maiden name.

That information actually gets sent to a scam artist, and anyone who provides this information is at risk of identity theft.

If you believe you have received a phishing email that claims to be from Capital One, forward the suspicious e-mail to

If you believe that an unauthorized person has accessed your Capital One account, call 1-800-951-6951 for credit card customers; 1-888-822-2274 for TowerNet customers; or 1-800-933-3993 for retail bank customers.

Onguard Online suggests the following tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

• If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And don’t click on the link in the message, either. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email.

If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company’s correct Web address yourself.

In any case, don’t cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser — phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different site.

• Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send emails that appear 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.

If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card. And delete any emails that ask you to confirm or divulge your financial information.

• Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files.

Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.

A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It’s especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Operating systems (like Windows or Linux) or browsers (like Internet Explorer or Netscape) also may offer free software “patches” to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.

• Don’t email personal or financial information. Email 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 website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.

• 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 emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer’s security.

• Forward phishing emails to – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email.

Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems. You also may report phishing email to The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.

• If you believe you’ve been scammed, file your complaint at, and then visit the FTC’s Identity Theft website at

Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft. While you can’t entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these new accounts are likely to show up on your credit report.

You may catch an incident early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the three major credit reporting companies. See for details on ordering a free annual credit report.


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