Scam spammers go on FDIC phishing expedition

A new e-mail spam hoax is making the rounds of messaging systems in search of private bank account information.

The phishing message invokes the authority of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Homeland Security Department, secretary Tom Ridge, the FBI and the USA Patriot Act.

'The e-mail was not sent by the FDIC,' the agency said in an alert today. 'Financial institutions and consumers should not access the link within the body of the e-mail and should not under any circumstances provide any personal information.'

The FDIC insures U.S. bank deposits.

A spoofed 'from' address and the subject line, 'Important News About Your Bank Account,' lead the recipient to believe that the FDIC, at DHS' instruction, is suspending insurance on the recipient's account 'due to suspected violations of the Patriot Act. While we have only a limited amount of evidence gathered on your account at this time it is enough to suspect that currency violations may have occurred.'

The message goes on to request that the recipient submit account and ID information for verification. It warns that failure to do so 'may result in a visit from local, state or federal government or Homeland Security officials.'

To add authenticity, the e-mail closes with the names of FDIC chairman Donald E. Powell, comptroller of the currency John D. Hawke and Michael E. Bartell, CIO of the FDIC.

Around noon Eastern time today, the FDIC Consumer Call Center in Kansas City, Mo., began receiving a large number of complaints about the e-mail. The FDIC is trying to identify the source and disrupt its transmission. Consumers can report similar attempts to gain such information to the FDIC at alert@fdic.gov.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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