Many Internet users are receiving emails requesting account information. The email sender is supposedly a bank, government agency, or a company like eBay or PayPal; but in reality they are criminals.
Attempts to steal your sensitive information are called "phishing," and it is very prevalent. The sender goes "fishing" for your information usually by setting up a phony website at which you are asked to supply information - account numbers, passwords, pin numbers, Social Security Numbers. If you provide that information, your accounts and other assets will be stolen.
To protect yourself, simply do not open or respond to emails asking to submit personal data. The message might include fancy graphics, trademark symbols and an authentic-looking email address, but all of that can be faked. Here are some ways to tell:
The message tries to scare you by saying your account needs to be verified or updated immediately.
The message threatens negative action, such as canceling your account, if you fail to take the requested action immediately.
The message asks you to click on a link to update your information or to submit information through a button. Legitimate emails will not contain a link, but will ask you to close the message, open the company’s website, and use your name and password to update the required information. Never click on a link!
The message is addressed to "Dear Customer" or another generic greeting instead of your name.