E-Mail and Internet Fraud take advantage of the Internet's unique ability to send e-mail messages worldwide in seconds or post Website information that is accessible from anywhere. E-mail and Internet fraudsters carry out their scams more invisibly than ever before, making identity theft from online scams one of the fastest growing crimes today. Credit Union Members should be especially vigilant to some of the more prevalent frauds at work in cyberspace:
Fraudulent e-mails, appearing to be from a trusted source such as your credit union or a government agency, direct you to a web site asking you to "verify" personal information. Once scammers have your information, they have the tools to commit account fraud using your name.
What You Can Do:
- If you receive an e-mail that tells you to confirm certain information, do not click on the email link. Instead, use a phone number or web site address you know to be legitimate
- Before submitting any financial information through a web site, look for the "lock" icon on the browser status bar, or look for "https" in the web address
- Report suspicious activity (see Resources below)
Remember: Your credit union will never send you an e-mail asking you to verify personal information
Similar to phishing, pharming seeks to obtain personal information by secretly directing you to a copycat web site where your information is stolen, usually with a legitimate-looking form.
What You Can Do
- Be wary of unsolicited or unexpected e-mails from all sources.
- If an unsolicited e-mail arrives, treat it as you would a phishing source
Malicious software or "Spyware" is often included in spam e-mails or other downloaded "free" programs. Once installed, the software works in the background, tracking and recording your personal data to forward on to fraudsters.
What You Can Do:
Install and regularly update your:
- Anti-virus software
- Anti-Malware programs
- Firewalls on your computer
- Operating system patches and updates
Information = Protection
- Don't Judge by Initial Appearances. The availability of software that allows anyone to set up professional-looking websites means that criminals can make them look as impressive as those of legitimate businesses.
- Be Careful Giving Personal Data Online. If you receive e-mails from someone you don't know asking for personal data - don't send the data without knowing who's asking.
- Be wary of E-mails Concealing Their True Identity. If someone sends you an e-mail using a mail header that has no useful identifying data it could mean that the person is hiding something.
Fortify Your System
Here are some basic safety tips you can implement immediately:
- Password - Experts advise using a complex password
- Virus Protection - Your computer's anti-virus software needs to be up-to-date to guard against new versions
- Firewalls - This protective wall between the outside world and your computer helps prevent unauthorized access. Check regularly with your software vendor to ensure you have the latest updates.
- Spyware - Anti-Spyware programs are readily available online. Every computer connected to the Internet should have the software installed...and updated regularly.
There are a multitude of resources available to you online to learn and protect yourself and your system from fraud. Drop by your credit union to learn more about how we are making online transactions safe and secure!
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ)
- Federal Trade Commission Complaints
- U.S. Federal Government
- Report Fraud to the Social Security Administration
- Identity Theft Resource Center
- Tips for Strong Passwords