How to Protect Your Money & Avoid Common Scams and Frauds

phishing attacks & credit cards

As technology has advanced, so have the tactics of fraudsters and scammers. While the basic premise of tricking someone out of their money remains the same, the methods have evolved. From deceptive emails to sophisticated attacks, it's imperative to understand the diverse range of cyber security threats we now face in the digital age.

Phishing Scams 

Phishing is a method of deception where scammers pose as trustworthy entities to steal sensitive information. This can be done through emails, phone calls, text messages or even social media. The objective is simple: to trick the recipient into sharing personal information or downloading malicious software. 

Real-life Examples of Phishing Scams 

Here are some actual examples of phishing scams: 

  • A fraudulent email from a bank or credit union asking you to confirm your account details due to a phony security breach.  
  • A text message with a link, claiming you've won a prize, but requiring you to enter personal information to claim it.
  • An unexpected call from someone posing as tech support, stating your computer is infected and needs immediate attention. 

What Do You Do When Faced with a Possible Phishing Attack? 

  • Always verify the source. If in doubt, call the official number of the institution in question.
  • Avoid clicking on unfamiliar links, especially those that prompt for personal, financial or login information. 
  • Enable two-factor authentication on your accounts when possible for added security. 
  • Keep all software on your computer updated, especially your web browsers, to benefit from the latest security patches. 

Two-factor Authentication 

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security process in which a user provides two different authentication factors to verify identity. It's an extra layer of security used to ensure people trying to gain access to an online account are who they say they are. Even if a scammer gets hold of your password, they won't be able to access your account without the second verification step. 

Guarding Against Identity Theft 

Guarding against identity theft is of utmost importance in today's digital age. Identity theft refers to the unauthorized use of an individual's personal details to perpetrate fraud or other criminal activities. Such sensitive information can fall into the wrong hands through multiple means. For instance, data breaches can occur when companies are compromised, leading to the leakage of user data. 

Another method is phishing, where individuals receive deceitful emails or messages intended to lure them into divulging their personal details. However, it's not only online spaces where one needs to be cautious. Physical theft, such as the pilfering of mail, wallets or purses, also remains a common method for thieves to gather information. Additionally, skimming techniques, where devices are discreetly placed on ATMs or card readers, can capture card details without the user's knowledge. 

Protecting Your Identity and Credit Score 

  • Regular Monitoring: Regularly check statements and credit reports for suspicious activities. 
  • Shred Important Documents: Before discarding, make sure to shred documents containing personal information. 
  • Secure Your Digital Presence: Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication where possible. 
  • Be Cautious Online: Be wary of sharing personal information on social media or other platforms.

It's also critical to monitor your credit report regularly to check for any unauthorized activity or accounts in your name you don’t recognize. You can obtain a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once a year. Review your credit report carefully, and report any errors or inaccuracies immediately. 

Staying Ahead of the Scammers 

Scams and frauds will continue to evolve. However, by staying informed, being vigilant and leveraging the resources and support provided by institutions like Ideal Credit Union, you can ensure your financial safety. Always remember, your best defense against scams is continuous education and a proactive approach to security. 

Whenever you have any questions about possible scams, please give us a call or begin a chat online and we can advise you on keeping your information safe! 

You can also view recordings of our webinars by visiting Cyber Security On-Demand. Please also check out Ideal's new Cyber Security Feed, where you can read through hundreds of articles updated daily with the latest security news and receive weekly email updates.

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