Don't be spoofed by Phishing, Vishing, and SMiShing attempts to steal your information. These communications often look and sound legitimate. Understand what to look for and what to do if it happens to you.
What is Phishing, Vishing, & SMiShing?
Phishing is a method that fraudsters try to obtain personal information from unsuspecting consumers through deceptive emails or creating malicious websites. These fraudulent attempts also come by way of phone calls (Vishing) or text messages (SMiShing).
The primary goal for the fraudster is to trick you into entering sensitive data such as your financial accounts or credit card numbers, online login credentials, ATM PIN numbers, social security number, or other personal information. Once the fraudster has access to this sensitive information, they will attempt fraudulent withdrawals from your accounts, attempt to open credit in your name, or commit other crimes by identity theft. Spear Phishing targets specific companies or individuals, usually to gain some access to the company’s information (W-2’s, payroll, etc.).
How it Works
Fraudsters create spoof emails, texts, and phone numbers to make it look like a message is coming from an organization when it actually is not. Your caller ID may indicate that the ‘IRS’ is calling when actually it could be a fraudster. An email or text may look like its coming from a well-known business or your financial institution.
The communication requests, and in some cases threatens, you to confirm your contact information or enter your credit card or social security number. A link to a fraudulent website is often included in the message where they want you to enter this information. The website will also often look reputable, but instead is a fake site to collect the information you enter. The fraudster then opens fraudulent accounts or makes purchases in your name.
In other cases, thieves will call claiming to be one of your relatives or threaten to kidnap someone you know if you don't send them money.
Beware of emails, messages, or phone calls asking to verify your personal information, financial account, or credit card numbers.
Guard Your Information
Legitimate companies generally will not send emails or texts, or call you asking you to do this. If in doubt, call the company to verify the request. Make sure to look-up their phone number through other means - not by calling the number provided in the communication.
SPIRE Credit Union will never unexpectedly call, email, or text you asking to confirm your complete social security number, account number or full credit card number.
The IRS will never contact someone by phone and demand immediate payment or payment in a specific form (gift cards).
If someone calls you and claims to be someone you know or an organization you do business with and wants money, hang up. Then call that person or organization directly to verify.
Verify the Message
Check the email address to make sure it is coming from the actual organization (email@example.com vs. firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you receive an email or text message with a link in it, hover over it with your mouse, or long-press it with your finger (but do not click or tap it). The actual URL will show and the true destination/website where you would be directed to if you actually clicked on the link.
Look for grammatical and spelling errors in the message. Spoofing emails often come from overseas where English is not the primary language.
To confirm if an organization actually sent an email, don't click reply. By selecting reply on the email, it will be sent back to the fake “channel” the fraudster created. Selecting forward will require you to enter in the actual email address – this is especially important when the email address is being spoofed.
To learn more about this scam and additional steps to help protect your information, we recommend visiting: Minnesota Attorney Generals Office and Federal Trade Commission. For more information, please visit myspire.com/fraud.
The information contained in this article is meant for general informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on one piece of information to protect yourself from ID Theft and/or fraud and in no way does SPIRE guarantee that ID Theft and/or fraud will never occur if you follow these recommendations.
SPIRE has made the utmost effort to make sure the information contained in this article is up-to-date and accurate. Under no circumstances shall SPIRE be liable for any loss or damages arising directly or indirectly from the use of the information provided within this article.
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