There has been a great deal of news of financial institution failures. Many banks have been swallowed up by larger institutions and mergers seem to be occurring almost on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, the troubled banking situation has opened up a door for Internet scams and phishing attacks.
Email that appears to be from a legitimate bank telling you that a merger has occurred. The merger involves your bank and this new bank and you are being asked to verify you account information. What to do?
There is no need to keep an email like this. If your bank or your “new” bank needs to get a hold of you, they will send you a letter via snail mail. If it is important, they would not rely on email to communicate this important information. Just delete it.
Don’t Click Any Links in the Email
They may look like recognizable links to banks, but often times they are not, and will redirect you to a bogus page that looks like your banks home page. You will be asked to enter your username and password and when you do, the site re-directs you back to the bank’s real web page. But by then, it is too late. You’ve input your personal data, and now they can use it to tap into your account.
Visit the Bank Directly from Your Browser
If for some reason you haven’t deleted the email and you believe that you have received a legitimate correspondence, you should still avoid clicking on the link in the email. Instead visit the site by entering the bank’s homepage URL directly into your browser. For instance, enter www.wamu.com in the URL field, and then navigate to the login page. Make sure your login is secure by checking for the lock icon in your browser’s status bar.
Try Using OpenDNS
OpenDNS is a free service that you can easily setup to help you avoid phishing sites. They do a good job of tracking known phishing sites and will stop you from the site. Check out my post on OpenDNS for more on this great service.
We should all be cautious of email from banking institutions. Hopefully you aren’t getting to many of these because of the prevalence of good spam filters and services like OpenDNS.