CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It has only been a few days since millions of customers' email addresses were accessed in one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history, and now, the BBB is seeing one of the first email phishing scams to result from the information theft.
If you are a customer of one of the companies that had email data stolen, the BBB is warning you to be on the lookout for phishing emails.
An email sent from a fake "Chase Bank," one of the companies whose data was compromised, warns that "your account will be deactivated or deleted if you do not update your profile immediately." The email instructs you to update your account by clicking on the link provided.
"Although the email sounds urgent since it appears to be from your bank, do not click on the link and input your bank account number or social security number," said BBB President Tom Bartholomy. "With this information, a scammer can steal your identity in a matter of minutes."
The BBB has advice to help protect you from identity theft and email phishing scams:
- Be careful about clicking on links or downloading attachments contained in emails. You could expose your computer to viruses, spyware and malware which can lead to identity theft.
- Do not give personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you via email, even if they say they are from your bank, the IRS or a law enforcement agency. These businesses will not contact you via email; they will send you a letter.
- Discuss phishing scams with all the members of your family who have email addresses. Young people are very computer savvy, but may not be scam savvy, and older adults are specifically targeted by scammers because they can be very trusting.
- Watch out for grammatical mistakes in emails. Poor grammar or misspelled words are red flags that the email is probably a scam.
- Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and run it regularly.
For more information about phishing scams, please visit www.bbb.org.