Learn to spot phishing scams

Suspicious message? Don’t take the bait.

Phishing attacks are phony communications that appear to be sent by legitimate businesses. Fraudsters try to trick you into thinking messages are real by using authentic looking logos, links or graphics. When in doubt, don’t click or reply.

Find out how you can better protect your accounts by knowing what phishing attacks look like. 

In this article:

Email phishing

Email fraud – or phishing – refers to phony emails that appear to be from well-known companies. 

  • Phishing emails typically appear to come from legitimate businesses such as financial institutions, insurance companies or retailers and often include seemingly authentic logos, links or graphics to make them look legitimate.
  • They are designed to deceive you into providing personal, financial or account information – such as account usernames, passwords, credit card information and Social Security numbers.
  • They may attempt to deceive you into downloading an attachment or clicking on a link that will download malware onto your computer to illicitly obtain personal and financial information.

What to watch for:

  • Sense of urgency. Phony phishing messages try to ‘bait’ you with an urgent situation requiring you to take immediate action. Watch for clickable links to ‘update’ or ‘validate’ personal information.
  • Spelling or grammatical errors. It’s rare for a well-known company to have spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Suspicious links. Be wary of links in emails. It’s always safest to go directly to the company website and log in to your account.

What to do if you suspect an email is a phishing scam

  • If you suspect a phishing attempt, delete it and follow up with the company directly.
  • Visit company websites directly to check on your account activity.
  • Log in to accounts using 2-Step Verification when possible.

How to report email fraud or phishing to Ameriprise

If you suspect you’ve received a fraudulent email from someone posing as Ameriprise, please:

  • Forward it to us immediately at: anti.fraud@ampf.com.
  • Do not remove the original subject line or change the email in any way when forwarding.
  • Watch for an auto-generated reply to let you know we’ve received your email. If we confirm the email is fraudulent, we will take appropriate action immediately.
  • If you provided your account information to a request you suspect may have been fraudulent, call us immediately at 800.862.7919.

Text message phishing

According to the FBI, the number of reported phishing incidents went from 114,702 incidents in 20191, to 241,324 incidents in 2020.  

What to watch for:

  • Fake email address. Most companies use a short code to send text alerts, not an email address. Emails may be from a look-alike domain and not a legitimate firm or company.
  • Suspicious links. The URL should include the company name and website domain (ameriprise.com, for example). Always be cautious of shortened URLs from services (bit.ly or tinyurl.com, for example).
  • Urgent or threatening message. Messages are written to try to ‘bait’ you with an urgent situation that requires you to take immediate action. If the text contains a threatening message, it’s probably a scam.

What to do if you suspect a text phishing scam

  • Be wary of links sent through text messages.
  • If the text message seems suspicious, do not respond.
  • Visit company websites directly to check on your account activity.

Voice call phishing

In 2020, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 15,421 complaints related to tech support fraud from victims in 60 countries. The losses amounted to more than $146 million, a 171% increase from 2019.1 

What to watch for:

  • Personal information requests. Ameriprise Financial, government agencies, and other bank and financial companies will not call you unexpectedly and ask you to provide personal information like passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers.
  • Remote access requests. Never give anyone remote access to your computer unless you have contacted them. Be wary of popups on your computer screen asking you to download software. Tech support from legitimate companies will not engage you this way.
  • ‘Local’ phone numbers. Phone numbers can be spoofed. Be cautious of unfamiliar phone numbers even if they appear to be local.

What to do if you suspect a phone call is a phishing scam

  • Let calls from unfamiliar numbers go to voicemail.
  • Block phone numbers on your mobile phone that call repeatedly for a fake business reason.
  • Be wary of links sent to you even if the caller seems like they are from a well-known company. Clicking links may allow the scammer to ad spyware to your computer or device.

How to report fraud

If you suspect unauthorized activity on your account, call us immediately.

Ameriprise Financial Suspicious Activity Hotline

Phone: 800.862.7919, Ext 11208
M – F, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CT

Also contact your advisor. 
 

Our advisors care about what matters most to you.

Or, request an appointment online to speak with an advisor.

There’s a sense of confidence that comes from feeling in control of your finances – and working with a financial advisor can help you get there. Please share your experience and tell your friends and family about me.

Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.

1 2019 Internet Crime Report, https://pdf.ic3.gov/2019_IC3Report.pdf  
2 2020 Internet Crime Report, https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2020_IC3Report.pdf
Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.
Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. Member FINRA and SIPC.