Scam Alert: Beware fraudulent emails from 'credit bureaus'

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) has issued a warning to be on the lookout for phishing emails that appear to be from the credit bureaus.

      In a release sent Tuesday, the SCDCA said this latest phishing trend is taking advantage of the fear caused by the Department of Revenue (DOR) security breach.

      "It is well known that many consumers have signed up for the free credit report monitoring service offered by DOR through Experian," the release read. "In an attempt to separate consumers from their personal information, scammers are now sending fake emails, posing as Equifax. The e-mails attempt to grab the consumer's attention by using words like 'Identity Theft Alert,' or 'Your score has dropped,' in the subject line.{} Once opened, the consumer is urged to check their declining credit score through an embedded link"

      SCDCA said scammers will also pose as government agencies and that these scam attempts can come via letter, e-mail and fax and typically say that funds are being held by Bank of America and can only be released if a mandatory service charge is paid.{}

      Consumers should follow these tips to keep their information safe:

      • Verify the message. When a business contacts you, especially by e-mail, verify the validity of the message by following up with the business directlyusing contact information you know is correct;
      • Do not click on any links in the message or cut and paste links into your browser. Phishing e-mails may contain software that can harm your computer or track your activity online;
      • Check the legitimacy of the domain or sender's address. Be suspicious if there are many letters and numbers in the web address or e-mail address. i.e. This does not resemble or, etc.
      • Note the grammar: "You might be having Identity Theft issue," is broken English and reputable companies will never email consumers with such verbiage.
      • Pay attention to the website link given in the e-mail. Please visit HERE does not show the actual link you will be visiting.
      • Use antivirus software and a firewall. Make sure to update them regularly.