Phishing is a type of scam where fraudsters send an email that appears to be from a legitimate company and encourages consumers to provide personal or account information. This is usually done by including a link that opens a fraudulent website. If information is entered into the site, the fraudsters have what they need to sell or otherwise exploit the information provided. In addition, these emails may also download malicious code onto a device which can be used create system vulnerabilities leading to security breaches, information and data theft, and other potential damage to files and computing systems. Here are a few tips to protect yourself:
- Verify the sender’s email address
Sometimes an email will look like it is coming from a legitimate source. However, if you look closely at the sender’s email address, it often reveals an email address that is not related or has misspellings. As an example, a legitimate email is: email@example.com. A fraudulent version of that email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a missing i and an additional s in pacific service.
- Urgent action required by sender
Phishers and hackers use scare tactics to bait consumers into clicking links or providing sensitive information like username and passwords or personal and account information. Emails with urgent statements like ‘your account will be deleted if you don’t respond’ or ‘click here now to upgrade your account’ are usually signs of phishing attempts. If the tone of the email seems threatening, that is another clue that the email is not legitimate.
- Look for typos and improper grammar
Check for misspelled words and grammatical mistakes. This is a quick and easy way to identify email scams.
- Request for personal information
Impersonal or generic greetings are also clues that the sender does not know you and should be considered suspicious. Any email that requests account or personal information is likely a scam. Legitimate organizations do not ask you to provide personal information via email.
- Suspicious urls
Verify links within emails before clicking. Simply hover over the link and the url will appear. Be aware of the name and spelling of the url. Phishers often setup fake websites with similar names, but if you take a moment to hover before you click it will help you identify potential scams.
Other precautions to protect against phishing emails:
- Don’t open attachments from unknown senders. Hackers often embed malicious code or viruses which can infect your device. Never open an attachment from an untrusted sender.
- Watch out for ‘free’ offers. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- If you question the validity of an email, contact the source directly to verify its authenticity.
- Use your business email address for business purposes only. Set up a personal email for online shopping or other personal use. This helps protect you and your company from spam, fraudulent emails, malicious ads and malware.
Pacific Service Credit Union will never request your personal or account information by email, text or phone. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of fraud, please call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878.