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.
- Verify your account: Columbia Credit Union will never ask you to verify your account number or send any confidential information via email. If you get an email or pop-up that asks you to do so, be very suspicious.
- 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.
- Spelling errors: 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. Columbia 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.columbiacu.org.
Protect yourself from Phishing Scams:
- Verify email validity. If you receive an email or phone call from Columbia and are unsure about its validity, please contact us immediately by calling our Member Service Call Center at 360-819-4000. 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. If you want to respond to an offer from Columbia Credit Union or you want to initiate contact with us, please visit our secure website, www.columbiacu.org, where you can communicate through "Live Chat" or by clicking on the contact us link found on every page.
- 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 recieve your statement from Columbia. Learn More ...
- 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 Commision at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, 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 Columbia Credit Union immediately if you receive an email from a sender you believe is fraudulently posing as Columbia Credit Union. Forward a copy of suspicious communications to email@example.com.
» What to do if you become a victim
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