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How You can Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

Internet scammers are casting around for confidential financial information, and they're netting unsuspecting victims by going "phishing."

Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam and pop-up messages to lure people into disclosing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, financial information, Social Security number, and passwords. Here's how it works.

Phishers send you an e-mail or pop-up message that claims to be from an institution or organization you do business with-your Internet service provider (ISP), credit union, online payment service such as PayPal, or government agency. The message claims that you must update or verify your account information, and you're directed to a Web site that looks completely legitimate and official. It's not, of course. Instead, it's simply the final setting of the hook-the place where you give up your personal information and end up having your identity stolen.

To avoid getting hooked, do not reply to e-mail or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information. If you witness any suspicious activity, report it to spam@uce.gov and to the Federal Trade Commission, which can be reached by logging on to www.ftc.gov, clicking on "For Consumers," and selecting "Identity Theft."

SMCU is committed to safeguarding our members' financial interests. We urge you to be cautious about disclosing your account number over the phone or Internet unless you know for a fact that you are dealing with a reputable company. An SMCU representative will never ask for your Personal Identification Number (PIN). It's just another way that we protect your privacy and identity. If you suspect fraudulent e-mail on your SMCU account, please contact us immediately at fraud@smcu.org.

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