The American Bankers Association (ABA) has warned internet surfers to be on their guard against a recent explosion of phishing scams.
The organisation said that it was concerned over the volume and sophistication of recently detected attacks that aim to trap unwary online banking customers in the run up to Christmas.
"In the past, phishing emails were sometimes detectable because of obvious spelling or grammatical errors, but more recent emails have become more sophisticated," the ABA warned.
"Scammers now include more genuine language, misleading consumers to trust the source and click on the provided link."
The trade group has compiled a set of safe surfing tips to help online banking customers keep out of the clutches of the phishers.
- Never click on a link provided in an email asking for personal information. Open a new browser with a web address you know to be genuine.
- Never give out your personal financial information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax or email, no matter how official it may seem.
- Do not respond to email that may warn of dire consequences unless you validate your information immediately. Contact the company to confirm the email's validity using a telephone number or web address you know to be genuine.
- Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly. Report discrepancies immediately.
- When submitting financial information to a website, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your browser, and make sure the internet address begins with 'https'. This signals that your information is secure during transmission.
- If you have responded to an email, contact your bank immediately so they can protect your account and your identity.
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