Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes with terrific fishing for walleye and northern pike. However, you definitely donâ€™t want to take part in this type of â€œphishing.â€
Phishing is an Internet crime where unsuspected consumers provide their personal information to criminals. According to the FBIâ€™s Internet Crime Complaint Center, Internet fraud reached an all time high in 2006 costing victims $198.4 million.
This is how a â€œPhishingâ€ scam works: A fraudulent operator sends out an e-mail impersonating financial institutions, government entities, internet service providers, national chain retailers, internet auction companies, or other companies, requesting that you â€œverifyâ€ your personal information. The phishers then use this information to commit identity theft. You can also be caught up in a phishing scam over the phone, through text messaging, through phony or hijacked websites, or social networking sites.
Minnesota lawmakers have criminalized this type of identity theft in two ways. First, Minn. Stat. Â§ 609.527, subd. 2 makes it a crime to transfer, possess or use an identity that is not the personâ€™s own with the intent to commit, aid, or abet any unlawful activity. Second, Minn. Stat. Â§ 609.527, subd. 5a criminalizes the electronic use of a false pretense to obtain anotherâ€™s identity, often referred to as â€œphishing.â€
Tony Bradley, Director of Security for Evangelyze and a Security Consultant with BT INS in Houston, Texas, offers some advice on how to protect yourself from phishing scams. He says to be skeptical of any message you receive that asks for your username, password, account number or any other personal or confidential information. When you receive an email regarding your account, donâ€™t delete it, call the bank or credit card company to report the email. Also, donâ€™t be afraid to report suspicious activity: If you receive emails that are part of a phishing scam or even if they seem suspicious, report them to your ISP and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov.