Phishing scam claims to be USAA; Scammers send out email asking for personal information

Carol Carter goes through her email every morning.  But one day, a particular email caught her attention.

"I noticed I had one from USAA saying there was a card security alert," Carter said.

The email she got claims to be the financial insurance company USAA and goes on to say "USAA" is updating its information.

It tells Carter she needs to update her personal information or she could be at risk.

"Pretty veiled threat, in my opinion," she said.

One small detail stuck out.

"I don't have a USAA card," Carter said with a smile.

And Carter also works at Life Senior Services, a place that educates older people about scams, just like the one she got in her inbox.

It's called phishing. Phishing is an attempt to con people out of their personal information or to steal their credit or their identity.

"We want people to be constantly alert and diligent," said Life Senior Services Program Coordinator Cindy Loftin.

Loftin coordinates those fraud courses with the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

"Seniors are seen as a very easy target for fraud," said Ray Walker with the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

So how can you tell when something is a scam?

With the USAA phishing email, Carter knew something wasn't right because she didn't have an account with USAA.

Credit and identity thieves often use the names or names similar to legitimate businesses to trick people into giving out personal and financial information.

You can search the name of the email account or the link the sender tells you to click on. If it's a phishing scam, often times the search results will be warnings from other victims.

When you open an account with a financial company, security protocols are already set up, so there is never a reason for a business to contact you for secure information.

And for Carter, something else was "phishy."

Scammers actually high-jacked someone else's email address to send the phishing email.

It's a simple scam that can complicate your life. It can also be simple to avoid.

Just read the fine print and like Carter you'll be sure to find the flaws.

The Problem Solvers contacted USAA. They told us they never send out emails asking for any kind of personal information.

If you get an email like this, contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department or Life Senior Services.

There are also software programs that can detect phishing scams. In many cases, they are included in anti-virus applications already on your computer.

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