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What is phishing?

Phishing is a term used for criminals' attempts to steal personal financial information through fraudulent emails and websites designed to appear as though they were generated from legitimate businesses, banks, and government agencies. These scams are contributing to a rise in identity theft, and credit card and other internet-based frauds.

The goal of most phishing emails is to trick you into visiting a website in order to steal your information. Attackers will set up counterfeit websites that look and feel like legitimate websites. Often the phishing emails will have an immediate call to action that demand you to "update your account information" or "log in to confirm ownership of your account." If you enter your personal information into these illegitimate websites, you are actually providing your information directly to the attackers.

Last Reviewed: April 2021

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

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