During the recent National Consumer Protection Week, security professionals with Visa Inc. wanted to provide a greater awareness to consumers regarding Email phishing scams.

Visa’s fraud researchers offered a statement to reporters and on their new, Visa-branded security website, on how to reduce financial loss and reduce the threat of identity theft through five basic steps.

1. Consider all email requests for personal or payment information to be suspicious

The credit card issuers already know all information related to a consumer’s account. They will not contact you via email for basic information such as names and personal data. They would also not use email for assistance in updating any information that may have been lost from their records database.

2. Be cautious about clicking on links in unsolicited email that you receive

No matter how legitimate a link may appear in an email, the probability that it could re-route you to a secure looking bank website that is a rogue server is real. The best method when testing one of these links is to open a new browser window and type in the bank’s URL directly.

3. Check the legitimacy of any email inquiry requesting your personal or payment information by looking up the company’s phone number separately and calling to verify the request

As Email phishing scams artists get more advanced, they have learned how to copy, or pirate, real emails that come from actual bank and credit card companies, altering the contact information with their own phone numbers and return addresses. If you have any question regarding a request from your bank or credit card company sent via email, call the phone number listed on the back of your actual credit card.

4. Watch for typos and bad grammar. These are warning signals that an email may be fraudulent

Companies that issue credit cards employ marketing professionals with the experience to create customer service messages. The appearance of foreign spelling, unusual capitalization, and language that does not match a banks voice can signify an attempt of Email phishing scams.

5. Use spam blockers and keep your anti-virus software up to date

Spam filters and pop-up blockers are critical in identifying attempts at phishing email, then pulling them from inboxes before the user can access them. In addition, with these and up to date antivirus software, malware and potentially dangerous software will be unable to damage the users’ computers.