Better watch out: ’Tis the season to get scammed

Don’t fall victim to phishing scams, especially during the holiday shopping season, warns NBT Bank.

Phishing is a twist on an old telemarketing scam, but uses e-mail. These criminals send e-mails to millions of people hoping that even a few will give away valuable information.

"Consumer education is a powerful weapon in the fight against phishing," said James Terry, senior vice president and director of financial crimes management and operational risk at NBT. "These criminals steal the identity of a trusted company and often threaten the consumer with dire consequences if they do not act immediately."

To avoid becoming the victim of a phishing scam, NBT Bank offers the following tips:

Never give out personal or financial information, like account numbers, User IDs and passwords. This is especially important to remember if you receive an unsolicited phone call, fax or e-mail, no matter how official it may seem.

Do not respond to email that may warn of dire consequences unless you can validate this information immediately. Contact the company to confirm the e-mail’s validity using a telephone number or web address you know to be genuine.

Check credit card and bank account statements regularly and look for unauthorized transactions, even small ones. Some thieves hope small transactions will go unnoticed. Report discrepancies immediately.

When submitting financial information online, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your Internet browser. Most secure Internet addresses, though not all, use "https" instead of "http".

Report suspicious activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

If you have responded to an e-mail, contact your bank immediately so they can protect your account and your identity. For information on identity theft, visit ABA’s consumer section.

For more information on how to detect, deter and defend yourself and your business from cybercrime and identity theft visit

Additional information is also available at: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Anti-Phishing Working Group, the National Consumers League, the OCC Consumer Protection News and the OCC Consumer Complaints and Assistance website.