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"Phishing" is where a criminal attempts to fraudulently acquire personal information such as internet usernames and passwords or credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy organisation, such as a bank.

An email or instant message "phisher" will use a message directing users to enter details on a provided website link that looks genuine when opened. Examples have included the subject line "Visa credit card Customer Support - Validate your information". Be aware, banks will never ask customers to disclose their PIN and they advise people never to disclose their PIN to anyone including the Bank or the Police.

Attempts to obtain personal information may also come via a phone call. The caller states they are from a bank or business and confidently offers some seemingly valid reason, such as varifiying your order, to ask for your credit card details. The caller may already have obtained some of your personal details but needs some further information such as the bank card expiry date so they can start to use your bank card. Be caution. Be suspicious of unexpected phone calls asking you to divulge personal information. Visit the bank or business or phone them using the phone number that you find in the phone book.

The intention of the phisher is to fool the receiver in to believing the message or call is from a trustworthy organisation so that you will provide the personal information that will allow the phisher, usually located overseas, to take money from your bank accounts, purchase goods or sell your personnel information to other criminals. It can be very time-consuming and expensive to put right the effects of identity theft.

The police advise that people should never respond to unsolicited emails and should never divulge sensitive personal information unless they are quite sure where it is going. A good question to consider is, "Would you give the same information away to a stranger who walked up to you in the street and requested all your credit card or banking information?"

The Ministry of Economic Development Scamwatch internet site has information on types of scams and reporting scams. It also offers good advice on protecting your self, your money, your phone, your computer, and your identity.

The police also has information on Spam, Scams and Frauds.


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