Summer 2016 Fraud News

Phishing Scam

If you use email and/or text messaging, you should be aware of a type of danger called phishing. According to the Federal Trade Commission, phishing is a fraud committed by scammers who are trying to trick consumers into giving away their personal information. It leads to identity theft, in particular, but can also include risk of malware on a consumer’s device.

What’s scary about phishing is that it can seem initially like a legitimate message. Fraudsters are becoming more and more ingenious about disguising their messages to lure unwitting and often distracted consumers to divulge more than they should. Impersonating companies or businesses by cloaking emails with official logos or authentic-seeming standard messaging ensnares more and more people each day.

The Better Business Bureau recently identified a trick some scammers are using that typically targets business and college email addresses. The scammers send an email that looks like it’s from the company’s or college’s IT department; the message mentions security updates to spam filters and asks the reader to click a link to enact protection against phishing. Unfortunately, busy and distracted employees and students often automatically click the link, which compromises their email and their personal information.

If you receive an email like this, be wary. If the email doesn’t contain specific information (such as your name or other identifiable information) or if it’s not the way the company or college would normally contact you, don’t reply to the email or click anything in it (whether it’s a link or a file). First check with your IT department to determine whether the message was actually sent by your company or college. Then find out how they would like you to handle it. Finally, if you discover that the email was fake but already accidentally clicked something in it, let the IT department know, and take steps to protect your identity, starting with following the advice on the FTC’s site.

Fraudulent Emails Target Chip Cards

Chip cards (credit and debit cards with an EMV-compliant chip embedded in the card) were created to help add a level of security to credit and debit transactions. However, even today, some banks still have not issued new cards to its customers, which leaves many consumers in a state of limbo, waiting for the new, more secure cards to arrive in the mail. This kind of limbo can lead to confusion, and that’s exactly when scammers like to strike.

According to CNN Money, since last fall, con artists have developed an email scam to try to lure consumers to give up their personal information. In the email, scammers pose as a bank or a credit card issuer claiming to need the consumer to update their account to be able to receive the new card. Typically, the fraudster asks for the reader to click a link or reply to the email to complete the process. However, in replying to the email with personal information, the consumer is open to identity theft, or by clicking the link, they could install malware on their device.

If you receive an email like this, the Federal Trade Commission notes the following:

1. Credit card companies should not email or even phone you to get information before they send a new chip card.

2. If you get an email and are unsure about whether it’s legitimate, call the number on the back of your credit card before responding to the email.

3. If you know that you need to update your personal or account information associated with a credit card account, go to the issuer’s secure site to make those changes.

4. Finally, if you find that you’re the victim of an email fraud such as this, visit IdentityTheft.gov to start a recovery plan.