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What is a phishing scam?

Consumers face a battery of different scams and unethical behaviors. Some have been around for decades or even centuries. Others have sprung up with the growth of the internet. Either way, it is important for consumers to know what these scams look like and what to watch out for.

One of the most common scams, per the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is a phishing scam. Do you know what this is and how it works?

First off, it's important to note that the goal of a phishing scam is to get your financial information or your personal information, often in order to access your accounts or commit some other type of identity fraud. The entire scam is driven by money. It's called phishing when the scammers use the internet to get this information from you.

Generally, these scams send you pop-up messages on your computer, or they send you an email message. It appears to be from a company you have an account with. That could be a financial institution. The messages look legitimate, and they tell you to sign in or enter your personal information. If you do it, the scammers then take that information to do a real login on the actual site. By the time you realize what has happened, they've cleaned you out.

To get you to give them the information, they'll use various tactics. They may tell you that you are owed a refund and you need to log in to get it, for instance, or they may claim that there is a slight issue with your account, and they need your information to fix it.

Have you been victimized by a phishing scam? Make sure you know about all the legal rights you have.

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