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What is “phishing”?

Phishing is the act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a website where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and account numbers that the legitimate organization already has. The website, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information.

This most common of scams happens, most commonly, before the holidays and long weekends, giving the scammers extra time to empty your accounts. No matter how legit the text, call or e-mail may seem, be very wary of any unsolicited message asking you to provide:

your name and online user name
address and phone number
social security number
account password or PIN
account number
credit card validation code (CVC)


Suspicion is your best protection. Instead of responding, verify the message by going straight to the source – look up the actual number of the bank, credit union or business where the message seems to have come from, and call. Chances are, they didn’t send it. Why? Because no reputable company will ever come out of the blue asking for confidential information. It just isn’t done.

Tampa Bay Federal will NEVER ask you for your password in an unsolicited email or phone call. And we'll never ask you to send your password or credit card information by email.

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