Phishing Scams

Recognizing an email phishing attack is the best way
to defeat this type of fraud.

While never opening a phishing email is the best way to secure your computer, even the most experienced email user will occasionally accidentally open up a phishing email. Recognizing an email is the best defense for preventing your personal information from being stolen or you being lured into their trap.

According to Wikipedia, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public.

Phishing is typically carried out by email or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details into a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Usually the phishing email asks for you to click on a link in order to confirm your banking information or password, but it may just ask you to reply to the email with your personal information. Never click on an email link. Always type the bank's web address into your internet browser to see if it is legitimate.

Whatever form the phishing attempt takes, the goal is to fool you into entering your information into something which appears to be safe and secure, but in fact is just a dummy site set up by the scammer. If you provide the phisher with personal information, he will use that information to try to steal your identity and your money.

Signs of a phishing email

  • Logo look distorted or stretched.
  • Refers to you as "Dear Customer" or "Dear User" rather than including your actual name. Phishing is usually emailed in bulk and does not contain your first or last name.
  • Warns you that an account of yours will be shut down unless you reconfirm your billing information immediately.
  • Threatens that legal action or legal processes have started.
  • Comes from an account similar to, but not the same as, the one you are used to seeing.
  • Contains claims about "Security Compromises" or "Security Threats" and requires immediate action by you.
  • Usually asks for you to "update" or "validate" your account promptly.
  • Often threatens some dire consequence if you do not respond, or a reward for providing information.
Do not reply to a phishing email, even if it appears urgent and is demanding a response. If you suspect that an email is a phishing attempt, the best defense is to never open it. If however, you have already opened it, do not reply or click on any link in the email.

View an example of a typical phishing email.

To report Piedmont Federal phishing emails, please contact us at

I believe I've been phished. What is my next step?

  1. If you receive an email claiming to be from Piedmont Federal and you are unsure whether it is legitimate, immediately call Piedmont Federal at 336-770-1000 and report your concerns or findings.
  2. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at
  3. Place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the following three major credit bureaus. Also request to review your credit report for suspicious activity because your credit report is available free each year from according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
    • Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
    • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Phishing Scams

To learn more about phishing and fraud visit these websites.
The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force website maintains a wide list of resources and information dedicated to helping find and report suspected cases of financial fraud.
The National Consumers League's Fraud Center website provides resources for learning to avoid fraud.

Home Network Security
This document from US-CERT gives home users an overview of the security risks and countermeasures associated with internet connectivity.

Threat Explorer
for the latest on technical hoaxes and scams
Norton's Threat Explorer website is a comprehensive resource for daily, accurate and up-to-date information on the latest threats, risks and vulnerabilities.

Report Phishing
US-CERT collects phishing email messages and web site locations so they can help people avoid becoming victims of phishing scams.

Recognizing and Avoiding Email Scams
US-CERT provides information about phishing scams - what they are, what they look like, how they work, and what you can do to avoid them.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Nonprofit consumer organization website features information about and examples of phishing emails.

How to Recognize Phishing Emails or Links
Microsoft website showcases clues that can help you spot fraudulent email messages or links within them.

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