Increasingly, identity thieves are fishing for financial information via email or pop-up messages that appear to come from legitimate businesses and financial institutions. This technique is called Phishing. They lure victims into divulging social security numbers, account numbers, passwords and confidential information to commit fraud and steal from financial accounts or credit cards. Victims can take years to recuperate from the stolen funds and damaged credit. But if you understand the crime, you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim.
How to detect phishing scams
Phishing emails are becoming more sophisticated. Some use the logo of a company or financial institution you trust. Others are linked to websites that closely mirror a reputable website. Luckily there are several identifying features and phrases that help you detect a scam.
Secure your account
Many phishing scams use scare tactics by suggesting that your account is compromised or violated. The scams urge you to update passwords or verify your account information to prevent unauthorized access.
Threatens actions if you don’t respond
While the tone may be polite, the message usually has a sense of urgency. Phishing emails may threaten to close or suspend your account if action is not taken quickly.
Scam artists are getting more sophisticated, but many ugly attempts filled with misspellings still exist.
Slightly altered website URL
Phishing websites may use similar URLs (website addresses) to that of a well-known company. By switching or adding a few letters, the address may look correct at first glance. Spokane Firefighters Credit Union does periodically send emails with links to special offers or financial education on our website, but you can also access the information and secure online applications by going directly to www.firecu.tk.
Protect Yourself from Phishing Scams
Verify email validity
If you receive an email or phone call from Spokane Firefighters and are unsure about its validity, please contact us immediately by calling us at 509-484-5650. You can also forward a copy of suspicious communications to email@example.com.
Always use a secure email system
Don’t provide your personal or financial information through your personal email. It’s not a secure method of transmitting confidential information.
Review credit card and bank account statements immediately
Check for any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or financial institution. E-statements are the quickest and safest way to receive your statement from Spokane Firefighters.
Use online security software
Update your computer with the latest security patches. Use anti-spyware software and anti-virus software.
Be cautious about opening attachments or downloading files from emails
The thieves involved in phishing are expert hackers.
Report suspicious calls or emails to the Federal Trade Commission or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT. Forward spam to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org and to the company impersonated in the phishing email.
Contact Spokane Firefighters Credit Union immediately if you receive an email from a sender you believe is fraudulently posing as Spokane Firefighters Credit Union. Forward a copy of suspicious communications to email@example.com.