Email provides us a convenient and powerful communications tool. Unfortunately, it also provides scammers and other malicious individuals an easy means for luring potential victims. Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) scams use a combination of email and bogus websites to trick victims into divulging sensitive information.
To protect yourself from these scams, you should understand what they are, what they look like, how they work, and what you can do to avoid them. The following recommendations can minimize your chances of falling victim to the bait:
- Be wary of emails asking for confidential information, especially passwords or financial information. Legitimate organizations will never request sensitive information via email, and most banks won’t ask for your information unless you’re the one contacting them.
- Phishers like to use scare tactics and may threaten to disable an account or delay services until you update certain information. Be sure to contact the merchant directly to confirm the authenticity of their request.
- Fraudulent emails are often not personalized. Many begin with “Dear Sir/Madam,” and some may come from a bank with which you don’t even have an account. The email may look legitimate, but look for typos, misspelled words or a contact address that doesn’t match the company from which the email claims to be. These are all red flags that you may be the target of a phishing scam.
- Never use links in an email to connect to a website unless you are absolutely sure they are authentic. Instead, open a new browser window and type the URL directly into the address bar. If you receive an email from a friend with just a link, be wary, inspect it and ask your friend what the intent was before agreeing to click on the link. Usually, if you hover over (but don’t click) an email link, you can see what address the link is pointing to. If you’re not confident of the authenticity of the website, don’t click the link!
- Treat email attachments with caution. Email attachments are commonly used by online scammers to sneak a virus onto your computer. These viruses can help the scammer steal important information from your computer.
- Never submit confidential information via forms embedded within email messages. Senders are often able to track and capture all information entered.
As your credit union, we care about your security and want to help you protect yourself from becoming a victim of these often very convincing phishing scams. For more information, visit our Security Center
And remember: Point Breeze Credit Union will NEVER send unsolicited emails or text messages asking you to give or verify personal information online or by phone.