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What should I do if I think I've received a phishing email?

If you receive an email asking you to click on a link inside it and provide personal information, then it is probably an attempt to scam you, especially if the message is urgent or tries to scare you into giving the information. Here's how to handle it:

  1. Be careful not to click on any link inside the email. Doing so may result in one or more of the following:
    • You may be sent to a Web page where you will be asked to enter personal information, which will then be used fraudulently.
    • Spyware, a virus or some other electronic threat may be loaded onto your computer,
  2. Stay calm. A phishing email typically includes alarming but false statements urging you to react immediately. Legitimate companies are less likely to use such pressure.
  3. If you are truly worried that one of your accounts may be in jeopardy if you don't provide the requested information, follow these steps to bypass the link inside the email and verify the address of the company:
    1. Open a Web browser.
    2. Go to the company Web site and log in as you normally would (not by using the email link).
    3. Check your account information to ensure that it is in order.
  4. Create a new email and do one of the following:
    • Attach the phishing email to the new message or
    • Copy the phishing email, including its entire original text and header information, and paste it into your new message.
  5. Send your newly created email to each of the following groups:
  6. After you've notified these groups, delete the phishing email and then empty your email trash folder so that no one accidentally opens the email and clicks on the link.
  7. File a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center of the FBI. See for details.

Content last updated May 3, 2005 by dlschmid
Page last modified June 24, 2005 by cawalker

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