Some of the most common ways that Identity Theft occurs is through phishing- email fraud, online fraud, text message scams, computer network invasion or by stealing your key identifying information (e.g.-US social security number).
In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver's licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how scams work and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.
A type of Internet piracy is called phishing. It's pronounced [fish-ing], and that is exactly what thieves are doing: phishing for your personal, financial, or other sensitive information. Fraudulent emails, also known as "phishing" messages, attempt to trick recipients by sending emails to innocent victims that direct them to phony websites that may appear legitimate. The phony website could appear similar to the victim's financial institution's website or other commonly visited site. Once the victim arrives at the phony fraudulent website, they are prompted to provide sensitive personal information, such as account numbers, social security numbers, credit card information, etc... The phishing scammers are primarily seeking account numbers, passwords, social security numbers and other confidential information they can use to loot your bank accounts or run up bills on your credit cards.
The most common identity theft fraud is conducted via email-phishing attempts. In order to secure your personal information, please be very watchful of email fraud.
- Never supply sensitive information (such as user ID and password, etc.) via email.
- Links that are contained in an email received from an unknown source should not be trusted, since they could lead you to an unsafe site that looks genuine, but is used as a way to collect sensitive information.
- Accessing an internet banking account by typing the URL into the browser's address bar (or by using a previously established bookmark) is the safest way to gain access, and it prevents identity thieves from redirecting the end user to an unsafe site. For instance, to log onto your UNFCU Internet Banking, type: http://www.unfcu.org
- If you have questions about email that is purportedly sent by UNFCU, contact us immediately at +1 800 891 2471 within the USA or +1 347 686 6000 outside the USA. Our Member Service Representatives will be happy to answer your concerns.
Online fraud is not only limited to email. Pop-up ads and banners, phony websites and other online scams may also lure victims into divulging personal and/or financial information that can lead to identity theft and other serious crimes.
- Pop-up Advertisements usually appear in minimized browser windows that "pop up" throughout the internet window you may be viewing. Although most "pop ups" are simply advertisements, some may also contain alternative scam programs similar to a computer virus.
- Phony Websites: Similar to phishing-email scams, fraudulent websites often look identical to those of a legitimate bank or another trusted organization. They mirror a company's website graphics and logos, but are actually set up in an attempt to capture your personal information. A common technique to lure customers to a fraudulent website is through "spam" email.
Some Tips to Prevent Online Fraud:
Avoid Pop-up Advertisements:
- Consider purchasing and installing a pop-up blocking software on your computer.
- Attempt to avoid downloading files from unknown sources.
- Be suspicious of complimentary software program offered over the Internet. Research the software thoroughly before downloading it to your computer.
- Keep your computer operating system and web browser up-to-date with the latest security software versions.
- Maintain your web browser security settings on a medium setting at the very least. Maintaining your security settings at this level, you may minimize the chance for websites to download software onto your computer without your permission.
Avoid Phony Websites:
- Do not click on hyperlinks provided in a suspicious looking email from an unknown source.
- Add to your favorites those frequently visited and trusted websites and access those sites through your favorite saved hyperlinks.
- Analyze a URL (internet link) carefully for the presence of an "@" symbol, for example email@example.com. This is a common sign of fraudulent websites. If suspicious, contact the organization directly to verify validity.
- Safely access your accounts online by opening up a new web browser each time. Choose a unique password and change it every 30 days. When you are finished, be sure to completely log out of your account and close the browser window.
Text Message Scams
You should never reply to a text message sent to your mobile phone requesting your personal information (e.g. personal identification numbers (PIN), account numbers, social security number, etc...). UNFCU nor any other legitimate financial institution will ask members to verify their PIN through an unsolicited text message sent to a mobile device, email or even a phone call. If you receive such a text message, immediately notify your financial institution.
Home Computer Network Invasion
Ensure your home computer network is up-to-date with the most recent antivirus and network security software. Do not allow cyber criminals entry to your home network. Cyber criminals can install malicious programs that can run quietly as services without you even knowing. Be aware of the services that run on your computer and audit them periodically. Most all-in-one security software programs protect against viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, worms, bots, rootkits, and more...