E-mail Scams: Phishing
All Internet users should be aware of the online scam known as
"phishing" (pronounced "fishing"). Phishing involves the use of e-mail
messages that appear to come from your bank or another trusted business
such as Accurint, but are actually from imposters.
Phishing e-mails typically ask you to click a link to visit a Web site,
where you are asked to enter or confirm personal financial information
such as your account numbers, passwords, Social Security number or
other data. Although these Web sites may appear legitimate, they are
not. Thieves can collect whatever data you enter and use it to access
your personal accounts.
Other sites appear non-functional or temporarily out of service, this
may be deceiving and in reality, the site may be downloading a virus
and/or other ill-intended software to your computer.
How can I spot a phishing scam?
Look for these warning signs:
- Language and tone.
The message you receive may urge you to act quickly by suggesting that
your account is threatened or will expire soon. It may say that if you
fail to update, verify or confirm your personal or account information,
access to your accounts will be suspended. The wording may also
be sloppy and contain misspellings and or grammatical errors.
- Requests for
personal information. Scam e-mails typically ask for personal or
account information such as:
- Account numbers and passwords
- Credit and check card numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Online banking user IDs and passwords
- Mother's maiden name
- Date of birth
- Other confidential information
instructions to download software. All your online Accurint
business web access should be done through our secure Web site, and we
will not send you e-mail instructions to download any software to your
computer. Do not install software downloads directly from e-mail
messages, or from companies or Web sites you do not recognize. When in
doubt, contact the company directly.
How can I decrease my risk
of being a phishing victim?
- Non-secure Web pages.
Clever thieves can build a fake Web site that looks nearly identical to
an authentic one. They can even alter the URL (the Web address) that
appears in your browser window address field on the top. Watch out for
non-secure Web pages that ask for sensitive information (secure sites
will typically display a lock in the status bar at the bottom of your
Here are some safety tips:
- Be suspicious of
demanding messages. Messages threatening to terminate or suspend
your account without your quick response should be treated as
suspicious. A legitimate business should not request personal
information from you over an unsecured Web site. When in doubt, call
the business' customer service number (available on your account
statement) to confirm the status of your account. Do not use telephone
numbers found on the suspected Web site or email.
- Be cautious of
downloads. Installing unknown software on your computer can put
your personal information at risk and potentially harm your computer's
hard drive. Make sure the software comes from a legitimate Web site,
not an e-mail message. If you are not sure whether you should download
a program, contact a customer service representative for more
- Always type in the
URL of the Web page you need. Phishing scams rely on embedded links
that take you to fake Web sites. It is safer to type your intended Web
address directly into your browser so you know you are visiting the
- Protect your
password. Do not write down sensitive personal information such as
your login ID, password or Social Security number.
Report an online scam
- Keep your computer
up-to-date. Industry best practices recommend that you install
anti-virus and firewall programs to help keep your computer safe and
that you keep updated with the latest Security improvements of your
If you receive suspicious e-mail that appears to come from Accurint,
please notify us immediately by forwarding the e-mail to
(do not open any attachments or click any
links found in the suspicious e-mail).
Learn more about phishing
To learn more about phishing, review the suggested materials below:
Recent phishing scam
- phishing brochure provided by The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
- "How Not to Get Hooked by the 'Phishing' Scam," available at:
- "ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name," available
- Some customers have
recently received e-mail messages thanking them for their order and
advising them their credit card has been charged. The email directs
them to login to their account and shows an invoice for 500 Look-Up
Credits and mentions an amount of $499.99
This e-mail message includes
a link that appears
to take customers to Accurint Web
site—however; the Web pages they go to are not legitimate. They
actually take customers to fake Web pages where the scammers may
collect login ID, password and account information, they can also
install malicious software (also known as spyware, malware, keyloggers,
virus, etc. on your computer). If you receive a suspicious e-mail
message, please do not open the email or click on any links it may have.
General Security Tips
While anyone can fall prey to fraud and identity theft, many ways exist
to minimize your risk. Accurint provides these security tips so you can
guard against fraud and identity theft.
Personal Computer Security
- Never give out personal
information online or over the phone unless you have initiated the
contact. Accurint will never request that you submit confidential
information over non-secure channels such as e-mail or phone calls
initiated by us.
- Avoid using easily guessed or learned information for as your
- Avoid writing down passwords
One way a thief can get personal information about you is from your
home computer. The following tips detail how you can add to the
security of personal information on your home computer.
Passwords and User IDs
For each computer or online service you use, you should have a user ID
and password. Try to create the most unique password, and protect it.
Commit your password to memory and do not share it with anyone.
The following easily-identifiable items should be avoided when creating
- Your birth date or a
family member's birth date
- Names of family members or pets
- Social Security number
- Phone numbers
- Dates of important events, such as anniversaries
- Your login ID
Tips for creating strong
Enable IP Restrictions for
your Accurint Account
- Use a combination of
numbers, letters and punctuation.
- Longer passwords are better.
- Make sure it is something you can remember without writing it
System administrators can prevent unauthorized access by restricting
their Accurint account to a specific IP address or range of IP
addresses. Contact Accurint Technical Support at
to learn more about IP restrictions or go to
the Security tab of the My Account Section.
Install and Use Anti-Virus Programs
Viruses can infect a home computer in many ways: through floppy disks,
CDs, e-mail, Web sites and downloaded files. Anti-virus programs help
protect your computer against most viruses, worms, Trojans and other
unwanted invaders that can make your computer "sick." Viruses, worms
and the like often perform malicious acts, such as deleting files,
accessing personal data or using your computer to attack other
computers. If a file is infected with a virus, most anti-virus programs
provide you with options of how to respond, such as removing the
harmful item or deleting the file. Installing an anti-virus program and
keeping it up-to-date is the best defense for your home computer.
Firewalls: What Are They and How Do I Use Them?
Before you connect your computer to the Internet, you should install a
firewall. A firewall can be generally described as a security guard for
your home computer. The guard is a piece of software or hardware that
helps protect your PC against hackers and many computer viruses and
worms. With a firewall, you define which connections between your
computer and other computers on the Internet are allowed and which are
denied. There are firewall programs, both free and available for
purchase that provides the capabilities you need to help make your home
computer more secure.
E-mail viruses and worms are fairly common. Here are steps you can use
to help you decide what to do with every e-mail message attachment you
receive. You should only open and read a message that passes all of
Purchasing and Installing
- The know test—is the
e-mail from someone you know?
- The received test—have you received e-mail from this person
- The expect test—were you expecting e-mail with an attachment from
- The sense test—does the e-mail subject make sense based on who is
sending the e-mail? Would you expect this type of attachment from this
- The virus test—does this e-mail contain a virus? To determine
this, you need to install and use an anti-virus program.
Apply these practices when you select software for your home computer.
Keep Your System Up-to-Date
- Learn as much as you
can about the product and what it does before you purchase it.
- Understand the refund/return policy before you make your purchase.
- Buy from a local store that you already know or a national chain
with an established reputation.
Most software vendors provide free patches to fix problems in their
products. You can usually download these patches from the vendor's Web
site. When you purchase a program, it is a good idea to find out how
the vendor provides customer support.
Backups: How Important?
It is a good practice to back up important files and folders on your
computer. To back up files, you can make copies onto media that you can
safely store elsewhere, such as CDs or floppy discs.