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Watch Out for "Phishing" Scams

Have you ever received an email from a business asking you to provide personal information like your Social Security number or account number? Chances are it was a scam by someone trying to steal your identity for fraudulent purposes.

What's phishing?
It's any email that seems to be from a legitimate business but is really intended to steal personal information.

Phishers bait their hooks with an email designed to look like it's from a bank, retail or auction site, or some other business you may have an online relationship with. The message typically claims there's a problem with your account and asks you to click a link in the email and return to their site to confirm your account number, credit card information, password or other sensitive information.

The link takes you to a site cleverly designed to look like the business's website, but any information you enter is captured by the phisher, who may use it to steal your identity, make purchases using your credit card or drain money from your accounts.

How to avoid being hooked by phishers

Develop a healthy skepticism when reading any email that asks for sensitive information and take a couple of simple steps to protect yourself.

Retype the URL. Phishers are very sophisticated in their use of design and technology to make their email lures look legitimate. The URL for the link in a phishing scam email usually appears to be a company's valid Web address. If you click the link, you're redirected to the phishers' phony site. However, if you type the displayed address into your browser rather than clicking the link, you can avoid being redirected.

Call the company. Franklin Templeton will never ask for personal financial information from you in an email, and we believe most reputable financial services companies won't either. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of an email, call the company that sent it.

Banks and investment companies typically have phone support in addition to their websites. A quick phone call to the customer service department can let you know if the "problem with your account" is for real.

Stay informed. Phishing scams become more complex as the phishers try to stay ahead of the people trying to stop them. You can keep tabs on the latest phishing scams at www.antiphishing.org, a website hosted by a group trying to eliminate identity theft and fraud related to phishing.

 

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