Just when we think there could not possibly be room for a new way to separate people from their money, we hear of a new type of scam. The latest seems to be a system by which suspects send out mass emails which deceive citizens into disclosing personal information such as credit card numbers, PINs, bank account numbers, and other information which will be used to take your money. This is known as "phishing."

Fake Emails
These emails seem to be authentic and will use recognizable logos and hyperlinks that will send the information to a fraudulent website where it will be stolen. Examples would be an email which would lead you to believe was from a major credit card company, bank, or a known billing company. The information contained would advise the recipient that their account needs to be updated. The person will be instructed to complete the form which asks for personal information including card numbers or bank account numbers. The instructions sound very official and advise that if the information is not completed and returned within a specific number of working days, they will be forced to terminate your account.

If you should receive an email similar to this, keep in mind that legitimate credit card companies and banks do not conduct business in this manner. If you receive an email from a bank or credit card company that you do business with, call them and verify the information you received. They may advise you to contact the police.

Fake Winnings
Another fraudulent scheme which is making its way around the country is one in which a victim receives something in the mail telling them that they are entered in a foreign lottery such as "Australia’s Famous Lotto." They will ask for address verification and say that there is a $20 fee to process your entry. If you choose to use your credit card, they ask for the card number, which they will use.

Fraudulent Checks
Yet another is when someone is sent a check and told that they have won a certain amount of money but that the check is written for considerably more than the amount he is to receive. The sender asks that before the person cashes the check to wire the overpayment (which is generally considerable) back to them. Of course the checks are not good and the sender makes off with the returned overpayment.

As with all scams, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Any time you receive something in the mail or by way of the Internet that you are not sure about, contact the financial institution that supposedly sent it for verification or contact the police.