Internet "phishing" can cause problems

In the old days, going fishing in the Mid-South meant a trip to Sardis Lake or Tunica Cut-off. In this new era of computers and identity theft, another kind of fishing has crooks trying to hook your personal accounts.

It's what the FBI calls the hottest and most troubling new scam on the internet.

The e-mails looks legitimate, but upon closer inspection, Cheri Lane of Eads realized the email was a scam, a replica of her bank card's web page designed to fool her.

"It wanted my name, social security number, account number, specifically asked for my ATM pin, I don't even know my ATM pin on that card, you know I don't use it for that purpose," said internet user Cheri Lane.

She called the bank and alerted them to the scam: "I asked them, are you aware of any fraud? And she said, yes,we are. And she asked where I was calling from. They weren't aware it was in this area."

The FBI says it's everywhere. Best Buy, E-Bay and other top companies have fallen victim to this new kind of "phishing" which is spelled funny but is, well, 100 percent fishy.

So here's how to avoid the scam:

-If you get an unexpected e-mail saying your account will be shut down unless you confirm your billing information (as Cheri did), do not reply or click any links in the e-mail body.

-Before submitting financial info through a web site, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar. It means your info is secure during transmission.

-If you're uncertain about a company web site, contact the company through an address or phone number you know to be genuine.

If you unknowingly supplied personal or financial information, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.

Any suspicious email can be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission.