Consumer Alert

Recent Reports of "Phishing" and of Phony Email Scheme

In the past week the Consumer Protection Unit has received several reports from consumers in the Anchorage area who received phone calls from persons claiming to be employed with a federal agency that provides grants. The callers claim that the consumer has been chosen to receive a grant, and the consumer must provide his or her bank account number in order to receive grant money. In one case the caller was purportedly from the "Federal Grants Center" and told the consumer that she was eligible for an $8,000 grant. The purpose of these calls, however, is not to award grants but to fraudulently obtain bank account and other personal information.

Also, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued an alert warning the public about a mass email scheme where computer users receive emails that appear to be from the FBI. The email directs recipients to open an attachment to answer questions. The attachment is not from the FBI and it contains a computer virus.

The Consumer Protection Unit reminds consumers to be extremely cautious about providing any personal information in response to an unsolicited phone call, letter, or email. If you are unfamiliar with "phishing" scams we urge you to review the identity theft information available at the Consumer Protection ID Theft & Privacy Topic page. We also urge computer users to refrain from opening email attachments from unknown sources, and to review the identity theft information for tips on how to safeguard your personal information on your computer.

Consumer Protection Unit
February 2005