The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning that phishers are preying on bank customers confused by their change in banks forced by the numerous recent acquisitions. "Online scammers are taking advantage of tough economic times. While e-mails phishing for sensitive data are nothing new, scammers are taking advantage of upheavals in the financial marketplace to confuse consumers into parting with valuable personal information," says the warning. Phishing attacks on customers of Citi, Chase, Wachovia, and Wamu have increased since the bank shakeups began.

Examples of these phishing attempts are:

“We recently purchased ABC Bank. Due to concerns for the safety and integrity of our new online banking customers, we have issued this warning message... Please follow the link below to renew your account information.”

“We recently acquired the mortgage on your home and are in the process of validating account information. Please click here to update and verify your information.”

“During our acquisition of XYZ Savings & Loan, we experienced a data breach. We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below to confirm your identity.”

The attacks take customers to a look-alike site then solicits their personal information. While this is a traditional scamming ploy, our current financial context gives more confidence to the con.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation also announced it itself has been faked by scammers, in an email purportedly from it with a subject line reading, "Funds wired into your account are stolen."

The best thing to do is never click on any email links. If you think you’ve received a phishing attempt, report that email by forwarding to and, as well as the institution the email was reportedly sent by.

By Mark Alvarez