Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl named Rapunzel who had exquisite credit. She had spent years growing her credit score so it was large enough for her to go to college, or buy a car or even a house. But she was still young, and her mother did not want her to run off and get married and spend all her credit on a house and husband before she had had a chance to get a college education. So her mother locked Rapunzel away in a high tower with only a computer so Rapunzel could go to school online.
Every day suitors would come to the tower and cry, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” But Rapunzel was taught well by her mother and knew better than to let these young men get to her lovely credit score. And so she kept to herself and her studies, and her credit continued to grow.
Then one day Rapunzel received a call from a young man who said he was from Technical Support. He warned her that without his help, her computer was in security danger. For fear of losing her one link to the outside world through her computer, Rapunzel was only too glad to answer the young man’s questions and to give her credit card number so she could pay for the $400 security software he said she needed. Then she turned on her computer so he could control it remotely to install the software.
But the young man was no prince! Instead of installing security software, he installed spyware, which harvested all kinds of personal and financial information that Rapunzel kept on her computer. Plus he had the credit card number she had used to pay for his product, and he maxed out the limit before she could say, “Rumpelstiltzkin!”
“Foolish girl!” said her mother. “You should have known that the internet provider or computer manufacturer should never call or email and ask you to reveal personal financial information over the phone or by email.”
“Well there is one good thing,” replied Rapunzel, “at least I am not pregnant!”
The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to be alert to imposters: “Make sure you know who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service. Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement. Ask whether the company really sent a request.”