Do Not Respond to Requests to "Verify" Personal Financial Information

Consumers report to our office that they have received e-mails that appear to be from online banking or payment processing entities such as Citibank, PayPal, and eBay. The e-mails suggest that the consumers' information must be "updated" or "verified." These messages are attempts to steal your personal financial information and possibly take money from your account. This kind of scam, where trickery is used to try and get you to divulge critical information, is called "phishing."

Be suspicious of any communication that solicits sensitive information such as PIN and credit card or bank account numbers. The real companies do not contact customers in this manner. Do not use links provided in these e-mails, as they may lure you to phony, look-alike Web sites that exist solely for the purpose of stealing your identity. When in doubt, contact the real company by telephone or by entering their web address yourself in the location bar of your browser. Don't be caught by "phishing!"

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Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas

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ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.

Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.

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