I get them all the time - those pesky emails that appear to come from my bank, credit card company, or a company I do business with.... but are actually scam emails designed to extract my personal financial information and perhaps even steal my identity!  Unfortunately, there are more "phishing" scams out there today in our email inboxes.  They are sent by thieves who are "fishing" for your personal financial information - your account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information so they can run up bills on your credit cards, take out loans, obtain new credit cards or even get a driver's license in your name!  Successful phishing scams can seriously damage your financial history and can take years to repair. That's the bad news....

The good news… You can learn to identity phishing scams and protect yourself from identity theft.  The federal bank, credit union, and thrift regulatory agencies recently published an updated identity theft brochure to assist consumers in preventing and resolving identity theft.  The updated brochure gives consumers the following tips on how to fight identity theft:

• Never provide personal financial information, including your Social Security number, account numbers or passwords over the phone or the Internet, if you did not initiate the contact.

• Never click on the link provided in an e-mail you think is fraudulent. In addition to stealing your personal information, the link may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.

• Do not be intimidated by an e-mail or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial information.

• If you are unsure whether a contact is legitimate, go to the company’s Website by typing in the site address or using a page you have previously book marked, instead of using
a link provided by the e-mail.

• If you fall victim to identity theft, act immediately to protect yourself. Alert your financial institution. Place fraud alerts on your credit files. Monitor your credit files and
account statements closely.

• Report suspicious e-mails or calls to the Federal Trade Commission at by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).

Download the brochure here: You Have the Power to Stop Identity Theft.