Here are some tips for defending yourself against "phishing" and other forms of Internet fraud:

* Use a firewall software program on your computer to block online intruders. Regularly check for updates to the firewall software; many programs can be configured to do this automatically.

* Run antivirus, anti-spam and anti-spyware software on your computer.

* Be wary of any e-mail that asks you to provide personal information. Call the sender first to ensure the e-mail is what it purports to be.

* Be suspicious of any e-mail that asks you to log on to a Web site. If you want to access a referenced site, close the e-mail message and go to the site by typing the site's legitimate address directly into your Web browser's address bar.

* Avoid using computers in libraries or other public places to conduct sensitive commercial transactions online. Your log-on information could be stolen via secret software that records your keystrokes.

* Periodically change passwords associated with sensitive online accounts.

* Never download e-mail attachments from strangers. Regard attachments you receive even from friends and well-known companies with suspicion.

* Call any company that sends you an e-mail saying your account has been compromised or is showing suspicious activity.

* Obtain your credit reports periodically from the major credit-rating bureaus to ensure no one is opening credit card accounts or applying for loans in your name.

* Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any fraudulent activity.