At First Resource, we are also committed to providing you with helpful information and resources so that you may better protect yourself when on-line. One of the best ways to stay safe is to educate yourself about online fraud, and to learn tips to avoid falling prey to fraudsters. Below you will find information on important topics in internet usage and identity protection.
Identity theft, or identity fraud, is committed when someone uses your personal information without your permission to obtain credit, make purchases, withdraw monies, or open accounts in your name. These actions can damage your credit and your reputation, and can take much time and effort to unravel. Below you will find some common online scams used to commit identity theft, and some of the ways you can avoid becoming a victim.
Common Online Scams
Phishing involves unsolicited emails, or “spam,” that appear to come from legitimate sources reputable companies you do business with, or government agencies. In these emails, some pretext is used to bait you into providing personal information for verification purposes: your account number, social security number, password or other private information used by a financial institution to identify you. This information is then captured by the fraudster to commit identity fraud.
Beware of emails that:
- Urge you to act quickly to avoid termination or suspension of your account.
- Ask for confidential, personal information, which may be used to identify you or transact on your accounts.
- Contain misspelled words, grammatical errors, or unknown attachments.
Pharming or Spoofing
This scam is related to phishing, in that unsolicited emails will urge you to take immediate action by clicking on a link embedded in the email. This link will re-direct you to a fake website that looks very much like the legitimate company’s website, using their logos and graphics, in order to entice you to provide personal identifying information, such as PINs or account numbers. Sometimes the fake, or “spoofed,” web page may be a pop-up window or image overlaying the actual site. These fake sites are used to fool you into providing personal information, which is then used to steal your identity.
- Emails that ask you to respond by clicking on a link embedded in the email.
- Web-pages with changes to the logon screen, or some distortion in the company logo.
- Unrequested changes to your browser (e.g. showing a different toolbar or home page).
Spyware, or Malware
This scam involves the use of spying software, or malicious software, which captures any information you type into your computer (including user IDs, passwords, credit card numbers used in on-line purchases, etc.) and forwards that information to a fraudster. These programs attack your computer through email attachments and downloads, some piggybacking along downloads from legitimate sources.
- Unexpected slowness in your computer, although there may be no signs at all.