Everyday, most email users are bombarded with commercial junk email or "SPAM" that clogs up their inbox and makes it difficult to determine which emails are important. Some of these messages are not only annoying, but potentially dangerous.
Criminals, identity thieves in particular, have become adept at impersonating legitimate institutions, such as banks and well-known companies, in order to defraud consumers. This technique is commonly referred to as "phishing." Criminals are looking for a few important pieces of personal and/or financial information, such as social security numbers, bank account numbers and passwords.
Here is an example of a phishing email attempt:
Dear Credit Union Member,
The personal identification number (PIN) was entered incorrectly more than 3 times. For your protection we have deactivated your card.
To reactivate your card please complete the authentication form or call (fraudulent phone number).
Thank you for choosing our services.
Credit Union Customer Service
Live Chat Scams
A new trend in phishing includes live chat windows that pop-up on fake phishing websites. These type of scams are called "chat-in-the-middle". Through this new scam, the phishers chat with the victim to gain their name, phone number and email address.
Avoid this scam by not clicking on any link within an email that requests you to update or authenticate your personal information on a website. Instead, type in, or use the website address you know for the company. Or call the company at a phone number you have for them. If you would like to live chat, initiate contact by clicking on the live chat link on the website you know for the company.
As a general policy, SAFE will never send an email that solicits you for personal information.
Here are some tips to help you avoid email fraud and phishing attacks:
- Never send your personal financial information via email. Email is not a secure medium and should not be trusted to protect your personal information.
- Question suspicious and "official-looking" emails. Be especially alert to those requesting personal information to "claim a prize" or "verify information." Never enter your credit union account information or password in response to an email you receive. SAFE Credit Union will never send an email requesting your personal information or account numbers and passwords.
- Be cautious when clicking links inside email messages. SAFE email messages only link to trusted internet destinations.
- Never open unsolicited email attachments even if they appear to be from someone you trust. Email addresses can be faked very easily in a process commonly known as "spoofing." This will also help you avoid malicious computer viruses, as these are almost always transmitted via email attachments.
- Protect your computer by installing up-to-date antivirus software.
Microsoft now offers a phishing filter on Internet Explorer 7. If you have IE7, you can activate this filter by selecting Tools -> Phishing Filter -> Turn on Automatic Website Checking. This new technology will help you identify phishing websites.
If you receive an email claiming to be from SAFE Credit Union, which you suspect is aimed at defrauding you, please contact us at (916) 979-7233 or (800) 733-7233 and the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov .
For more information about Spam, visit the Federal Trade Commission's spam website at http://www.ftc.gov/spam/ .