SALEM - Just because it looks official doesn't mean it is. Scammers have created a Web site posing as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to Oregon Attorney General John Kroger.

The Web site http://bailout.hud-gov.us/ is about duping people into giving out personal information, Kroger said in a news release. The Web site looks like an official U.S. government Web site, so some people may fall prey to this scam. This scam operation is called "phishing," which identity thieves mostly use to obtain personal financial information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, birth dates and credit card numbers.

The actual HUD Web site is /www.hud.gov/.

The Federal Trade Commission offers tips on how to avoid falling prey to Web sites that seek personal information: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt127.shtm

Consumers and retailers seeking information about scams should contact the attorney general's consumer hotline at (877)-877-9392. The Oregon Department of Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.

- Phil Wright

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