The Oregon Pacific Bank sent out a press release warning its customers about an Online scam targeted at both Oregon Pacific customers and non customers.

The phishing scam is in the form of an e-mail which contains a link to a Website asking the user to give personal information as well as credit card or debit card number together with the PIN and password for the account.

Phishing is derived from the word fishing where a malicious Website gets a user to provide information by mimicking or pretending to be a legitimate company Website. The phishers sometimes go to great lengths in their deception using IP spoofing (where they hide the real IP address and use the IP of the real company in the e-mail) this will make the e-mail seem even more genuine.

In the Oregon Pacific Bank case, the e-mail contained a link that had the bank’s logo, together with other contact information. It was on this website that users were required to put in their account details.

According to the release, the Oregon Pacific Bank did not send this e-mail. It further stated that a security firm had done a complete audit of the bank’s systems and it was determined that there was no security breach on the bank’s data.

The bank also asked that customers, who did provide information, should contact the bank immediately to have their passwords changed.

There are various ways to determine if an e-mail you have received is potentially a phishing scam:

Firstly, if you receive an e-mail that is asking for information urgently or your account is going to be shutdown, secondly if the e-mail does not address you by your name. For example they will normally refer to you as “Dear customer” “Dear taxpayer” and so on. Lastly, if an e-mail asks you for your personal information like Social Security Number, credit card/debit card number, usernames and passwords, its most likely scam.

Legitimate companies never ask for information via e-mail. If you are in doubt always call the number of the company that is purporting to get the information. Another way to protect yourself from these scams, is by deleting the suspicious e-mail and never open any attachments that they might contain. Also be sure to review your banks statements as soon as you receive them as this will help you to save major losses in case of identity theft.

The best way to protect yourself is to have a good anti-virus, anti-spyware and a firewall. It is also imperative that you update these programs regularly to protect yourself from new variations of these scams. You should also have a browser that has the tools to detect false websites. A good example is a browser add-on called WOT (web of trust) which gives users a platform to rate websites depending on user experience. When a website has a poor or a dangerous reputation, people who go to that site and have WOT installed will be warned.

Oregon Pacific Bank provided a number 800-997-7121 for those with any questions or issues about this scam.