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When internet fraudsters mimic a legitimate business to trick consumers into giving out their personal information, it’s called phishing. It’s not just a problem for consumers, but for the companies the scammers are impersonating too. The FTC has long provided advice to consumers about steps they can take to avoid phishing scams. But what should you do if customers contact your company upset that they responded to a phishing email from a scammer impersonating your legitimate business?


If consumers fall victim to phishing schemes that falsely invoke your company name, they may look to you for guidance on the next steps to take. Offering immediate advice and support can help you retain the customer goodwill you’ve worked so hard to develop.

How should you respond if your business is impersonated in a phishing scam?

  • Notify consumers of the scam.  If you are alerted to a phishing scam where fraudsters are impersonating your business, inform your customers as soon as possible. If your business has a social media presence, announce the scam on your social media sites and warn customers to ignore suspicious emails or texts purporting to be from your company. You can also inform your customers of the phishing scam by email or letter. The important point is to remind your customers that legitimate businesses like yours would never solicit sensitive personal information through insecure channels like email or text messages.
  • Contact law enforcement.  If you become aware of a phishing scam impersonating your business, report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Suggest that affected customers forward any phishing emails impersonating your business to the Anti Phishing Working Group, a public-private partnership against cybercrime. Consumers also can file a complaint with the FTC.
  • Provide resources for affected consumers.  If consumers believe they may be victims of identity theft because of the phishing scam impersonating your business, direct them to www.IdentityTheft.gov where they can report and recover from identity theft.  For more information about recommended computer security practices, direct consumers to resources on the FTC’s consumer information site where they can learn how to protect themselves online and avoid phishing attacks.
  • Use the episode as reminder to update your security practices.  Data security isn’t just a one-and-done checklist. Threats are ever-evolving, so your defenses need to be nimble, too. For information on securing sensitive customer information, be a frequent flyer on the FTC’s data security portal. Follow case developments and read publications designed for companies of any size and sector, including Start with Security and the recently refreshed Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business. Pressed for time? Pledge two minutes a day to watch a video from the FTC’s resource library for businesses.

4 Comments

WASKEY (not verified)
March 06, 2017
I don't like scams knocking up my cash saying I won a grant of 5,000 bucks trick me of paying 250 bucks to wire it to my account. So I called the special network with FBI to catch those criminal people here in the US and China.
Michael Allen … (not verified)
December 19, 2017
Yes I As well Got the IRS scam call told me i owed $2000 in back taxes from 2005-2010 i new right away it was bs he said if i did not pay i would be arrested , so i said SEND ME THE DOCUMENTS AND I WILL CHECK IT OUT HE SAID NO,,, SO i keep playing him me (acting like i was in fear for if i not payed ) me just said ,,,the middle finger and told him to F off its people scammers like that that make it hard for the IRS< me no fan< neverthelesss i contacted the IRS and told them the # from the fake IRS caller anyways I Know there are Lots of really good Women and Men in USA gov yet its Hard on them and there familey With A Greatful Heart me Michael Says thanks to YOU ALL Be Well Rest Well as Men Love your Wife and Familey WithAllLovingKindNess Michael
Lisa George (not verified)
November 23, 2018
I just got a call. Caller ID said Fannie Mae and they wanted to talk to me about WINDOWS program
Richard Carlson (not verified)
September 15, 2021

In reply to by Lisa George (not verified)

I’ve been getting a calls from “Aetna” according to caller ID, wanting verification of my personal info. Calls now once or twice a week! A call to Aetna reveals the company knows nothing of such calls. Scammers also give a return call number...which, when tried, doesn’t exist.

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