Over the past few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number and sophistication of fraud, identity theft, and online scams. While online banking is very safe and secure, it is important that all consumers are aware of these issues. One common cause of identity theft today is a high-tech scam called phishing.
Users will receive an e-mail message claiming to be from their financial institution, requesting personal information. Often there are threats or warnings that the user must provide their information or click on a link to keep their account active or to continue to use online banking. Users that follow links from these messages are sent to websites that look identical to the actual sites (they even have the actual logos and fonts), but they are hoaxes, meant to steal your information. There have been national phishing scams involving America Online, Best Buy, eBay, and Citibank, among others.
The following are some recommendations to protect yourself and to avoid being a victim:
- Never release your personal information by e-mail. This includes but is not limited to account numbers, credit or debit card numbers and expirations, passwords, PIN numbers, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, or account balances. Generations Credit Union will NEVER request such information from members by e-mail. Messages sent by GCU will come from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Do not use links in e-mails from unknown senders to access other websites or to conduct any online banking. Log on to the website directly by typing the website address in a new browser window.
- Do not reply to suspicious e-mails. Do not attempt to unsubscribe from unknown e-mail subscriptions. Many of these are automatic and replying will only confirm that your e-mail is active. Sometimes if you unsubscribe, you will only get more junk mail.
- Do not open attachments in e-mails from unknown senders. Scan all attachments, even from known senders, with virus detection software before opening.
- Ensure that your browser and computer operating system are up-to-date and all security patches are applied.
- Regularly check your bank and credit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.
- Regularly log in to your online banking accounts. This will alert you of any unauthorized transactions. When you are finished viewing your account, always log out of your account and close the browser window.
- Do not save account numbers or passwords on your computer.
- Be especially wary of errors and typos in messages – these are often clear signs of a scam. For example, look carefully for links that have “1” instead of “I” or “0” instead of “O”.
- Be very cautious about giving out your debit or credit card numbers online or over the phone. Ensure that the site you are using is a trusted vendor and that the connection is secure. Look for a padlock icon on the bottom right-hand corner of your browser. Also the website address should begin with "https" and not "http".
- If you have given out personal information about your account to a suspicious company, alert the Credit Union immediately. If you have done this, it is recommended that you cancel affected cards immediately to avoid unauthorized charges.
- If you ever receive a suspicious request for personal information, please contact the sender by phone or in writing to verify the authenticity.
- Install antivirus software on your computer and ensure that it is current for all virus protection.