Consumers should understand the mechanics behind the type of fraud called “phishing.” The term "phishing" – as in fishing for confidential information - refers to a scam that encompasses fraudulently obtaining and using an individual's personal or financial information.

Phishers especially like to use IRS rebates to reel in victims, such as the economic stimulus rebate phishing scam.

The lure was the $600 rebate ($1,200 per household) that the Internal Revenue Service sent taxpayers in 2008 and a supposed opportunity to speed up the process. E-mails purporting to be from the IRS arrived in inboxes with instructions to recipients to visit the linked Web site and provide bank account and routing numbers so their rebate would be deposited directly to the account more quickly. Needless to say, the message was a fraud (or a phraud).

Visit FDIC phishing scams for more information.

Report suspicious e-mails, phishing schemes and bogus IRS Web sites.