I get it. You’re assaulted by constant fraud talk – in the constant news cycle; from IT at work BEGGING you to stop clicking those darn suspicious links; on a neighbor’s Nextdoor post saying they Venmo-ed $500 to a person online because they said they’re holding their pet for ransom (even though Mr. Fluffernutter was sitting right on the patio).
Sure, you could ignore it. What’s the alternative, though? Become a victim and lose out on everything you’ve built? I think the heck not. Educate yourself on how to spot fraud and scams and take simple actions for fraud prevention that could be the difference between staying safe or losing everything.
FRAUD FIGHTERS, ASSEMBLE!
- Be skeptical. Be smart. Never share personal or financial info without triple-checking the source's legitimacy + keep up with the latest scams and fraud trends.
- Arm yourself with tech wisdom. Keep your devices, antivirus software, and apps updated to the latest versions + use strong, unique passwords for each account.
- See something, say something. Report suspicious activity to SunWest or appropriate authorities + you might just save yourself and others from fraud.
UNMASKING THE TRICKSTERS: PHISHING, SMISHING, AND VISHING – OH MY!
WHAT IS PHISHING?
Phishing is a tactic where scammers pose as legitimate entities, typically through email, to trick you into revealing sensitive information like passwords, card numbers, and PINs.
HOW TO IDENTIFY PHISHING
You’re casually scrolling through your inbox when BAM! An email from "Your Friendly Banker" pops up, saying your account has been compromised and asking for your login credentials.
1. Check the URL. Hover over links in emails to preview the actual site destination. If you don’t recognize it or it doesn’t match an organization’s official website, DO NOT CLICK.
2. Watch for urgency or pressure. Phishing emails often use a sense of urgency to trick you into acting quickly. Take a beat to think before providing any personal information.
3. Check the grammar. Phishing emails are often riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Legit communications from trusted organizations are more polished.
WHAT IS SMISHING?
Smishing uses text messages (SMS) to trick you into giving up your personal information or clicking fishy links. Like phishing, smishing scammers typically pose as a reputable source.
HOW TO IDENTIFY SMISHING
Your phone pings with a text from a random number. "Hey! Congrats, you've won a $1000 gift card. Reply with your credit card number to claim!"
1. Be cautious of unsolicited messages. If you don’t know the number and didn’t expect to receive a text, block the sender + send the message straight to the trash.
2. Be critical of any requests. SunWest and other legitimate organizations won’t ask for your sensitive information like passwords or card details via text.
3. Verify the sender. Confirm their identity and legitimacy of the offer or request by contacting the organization using official contact information, not what’s provided in the text.
WHAT IS VISHING?
Vishing (voice phishing) is a scam where fraudsters use phone calls to impersonate legitimate organizations or authorities, attempting to obtain sensitive information like account and credit card numbers, PINs and Social Security numbers.
HOW TO IDENTIFY VISHING
You get a call from an agent or automated system claiming to be your bank or credit union stating your mortgage account is on fire. To douse the flames, you need to confirm your SSN and membership numbers.
1. Be skeptical of unexpected calls. If you didn’t initiate contact with the organization the caller claims to be from, question the legitimacy. Hang up and call the number listed on their official website.
2. Do not share your information. SunWest and other legitimate organizations won’t ask for your sensitive information over the phone. Again, hang up and call the official number from their website.
3. Stay calm and go slow. Fraudsters thrive on creating chaos and a sense of urgency. Take a deep breath, verify the caller’s identity, and never rush into sharing your personal information.
THE AFTERMATH OF BEING A VICTIM OF FRAUD
Falling for these scams can lead to a financial hangover that even the strongest coffee can't cure.
- Financial Fiasco. Fraudsters can drain your financial accounts.
- Identity Crisis. Fraudsters may impersonate you, wreaking havoc on your credit and personal life.
- Emotional Rollercoaster. It can take years, a ton of effort, and more money you don’t have to recover from fraud.
Stay sharp to thwart any fraudster foolish enough to mess with you.
Help us protect our members from fraud by reporting suspicious activity to email@example.com + always use our official contact information to verify requests from anyone claiming to be SunWest before providing any sensitive information.
October 2, 2023
Published by SunWest Credit Union
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