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OIG Fraud Alert

“Phishing” is a general term for criminals’ creation and use of e-mails and websites – designed
to look like e-mails and websites of well known legitimate businesses, financial institutions, and
government agencies – in order to deceive Internet users into disclosing their bank and financial
account information, or other personal data such as usernames and passwords. The “phishers”
then take that information and use it for criminal purposes, such as identity theft and fraud.

“Phishing” is by far the most dangerous form of fraud to hit online commerce, costing U.S.
banks alone $1.2 billion in direct losses, increasing insurance rates and eroding consumer
confidence in online transactions.