In the worst of times, don’t expect the best in everyone. Scammers are reveling in the financial turmoil by taking advantage of consumers’ fears, especially those who are customers of banks most affected by the Wall Street crisis. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which issued a warning this week, cautioned that people should watch out for e-mails or pop-ups, even if from their own banks, asking for any sensitive personal or financial information. People should double-check their bank and credit card statements for fraudulent activity, the report added.

Banks making the news like JP Morgan Chase, which bought out Washington Mutual in September, or Citigroup, which as of this week backed out of settlement talks with Wachovia and Wells Fargo, are prime targets for phishing. The report said that fraudsters may not necessarily be taking information to get credit using someone else’s identity, but could be going a step further and breaking into accounts that already exist. Spammers are apparently also creating fake Web sites and malicious software to get information.

To learn more about scams, check out the FTC’s site.