You've seen plenty of e-mail trying to trick you into sharing sensitive data. Now the Federal Trade Commission is urging consumers to be even more cautious of online scammers looking to take advantage of upheavals in the financial marketplace.
The FTC is warning consumers to be wary of e-mail messages that look as if they come from a financial institution that recently acquired a consumer's bank, savings and loan, or mortgage. These messages, the FTC says, may be from "phishers" looking for your account numbers, passwords and Social Security numbers.
To avoid getting scammed: Don't reply to an e-mail or pop-up message that asks for personal data; don't click on links in the message even if it appears to be from your bank; don't cut and paste the link from the message into your Web browser, because phishers can make links redirect you to bogus sites; use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them regularly; call your institution directly instead of using the phone number provided in the e-mail; review financial statements for unauthorized charges as soon as you receive them; and be cautious opening attachments or downloading any files from e-mail.
If you've been scammed, visit the FTC's Identity Theft Web site at ftc.gov/idtheft for information on what steps to take next.