Eugene Romney recently received e-mails claiming his Bank of America online service had expired due to inactivity.
The Tempe resident knew the emails weren’t from the bank, and that they are part of a phishing expedition by identity thieves to trick bank customers into revealing their personal information.
He worries others might be fooled into believing the e-mails are legitimate.
“There are people out there, the elderly, who may not recognize it as a scam, and there are young people out there who perhaps don’t recognize it,” Romney said. “They just need to be very cautious.”
The thieves cast a wide net by sending the e-mails to as many recipients as possible, including those who aren’t Bank of America customers, in hopes of tricking some actual customers into believing they are real.
Bank of America wants to know when customers receive these e-mails, said spokeswoman Diane Wagner. Customers are asked to forward the e-mails to email@example.com.
“E-mails from us will never ask customers to reply with any personal information,” she said. “If they do have a Bank of America account and they have provided personal information, they are protected from unauthorized activity on their Bank of America account.”
The bank’s Web site, www.bankofamerica.com, provides information on how to spot a fraudulent e-mail and how to protect yourself, Wagner said.
Another phishing expedition tries to ensnare E*Trade Financial customers through an e-mail claiming to be an “official service renewal notification.”
E*Trade does not ask customers for personal information, and any messages are received in an in-box through the customer’s account.
“E*Trade Financial deploys the industry’s most advanced protection solutions to ensure its systems are secure and its customers are protected,” said Greg Framke, chief information officer.
“The vast majority of online fraud results from the compromise of a home PC; therefore online security must be a partnership between E*Trade and its customers, involving advanced technologies, preventative measures and consumer education to provide a strong defense against electronic scams and fraudulent activity.”
Avoiding e-mail scams
1. Use anti-virus software.
2. Use a personal firewall package.
3. Use current versions of software and operating systems (and keep them patched).
4. Secure your wireless network.
5. Use your own computer.
6. Choose strong passwords and change them regularly.
7. Use an uncommon ID and password.