06 Sep Online scam targets credit union members
Pewaukee, Wis. – More than two million Wisconsin credit union members are conceivable targets of a new identity theft scam already luring users of the non-profit financial institutions via e-mail.
According to a notice from The Wisconsin Credit Union League, the trade association for more than 270 credit unions in the state, several members of a Wisconsin credit union recently received an e-mail questionnaire prompting them to take part in a five-question survey and offered to credit $100 to member accounts for doing so.
The message appeared to be generated by the credit union’s online services department, and the questions led to prompts for personal information, including account numbers and passwords.
Upon discovering the scam, the credit union alerted its members, but an unknown number of people fell victim to the con.
“Phishing,” as the ruse is commonly called, is the attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information by masquerading as a trustworthy person or institution. It can be carried out using instant message, phone contact, and other forms of digital communication.
“No credit union – or any credit union-affiliated organization – would ever send an e-mail like this asking its members for personal information, said Brett Thompson, president and CEO of WCUL.
“It plays on people’s desire to get something free – in this case, cash – for relatively little effort,” Thompson added. “It’s not surprising many people react quickly to what they see.”
Reviewing bank statements, using anti-virus and firewall software, and contacting the appropriate authorities when receiving a suspicious solicitation are basic ways to avoid phishers.
The WCUL recommends additional habits to curb the risk of this type of identity theft. First, do not trust links provided in e-mail messages, look for the padlock icon on the browser’s status bar, or ensure the web address begins with “https” before continuing. Also, it is important to remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
If you are concerned that you may have received a phishing e-mail, contact your credit union and the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or 1-877-IDTHEFT.
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