Online Fraud & How to Stay Safe
One of the most prevalent types of internet scams is "phishing". Phishing happens when someone attempts to obtain personal information from you by sending you a fraudulent email, claiming to be an organization with which you have some type of relationship (i.e.: your credit union or bank, a merchant, etc.). These emails usually provide a link to a website and generally tell you that it's time to update your personal information or that they have upgraded their servers and need you to re-enter your personal information. That personal information might be a username, password, credit card number, or possibly even your home address or phone number. The link in the email goes to a site that has a similar look and feel (perhaps even a logo) to the site they are imitating, as well as a similar email address.
Important: Texans does not call or email members requesting personal information such as account numbers, PIN’s, credit card numbers, or social security numbers. If you are ever contacted by an entity claiming to be from Texans soliciting this type of information, do not respond and contact Texans immediately at 972.348.2000 or 800.843.5295.
How to Detect Phishing Scams
Here are some common characteristics of fraudulent emails and websites:
- They often have a sense of urgency, telling victims that if they fail to update, verify or confirm their personal or account information, access to their accounts will be suspended.
- They typically ask for personal or account information such as:
- Account numbers
- Credit and check card numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Online banking usernames and passwords
- Mother's maiden name
- Date of birth
- Other sensitive information
- They often include links that contain the names or web addresses of legitimate companies.
- The fraudulent emails will disguise or forge the sender's email address so they appear to be from a legitimate company.
- The emails and pop-up websites may include misspelled words and incorrect grammar.
“Vishing” is similar to phishing in that both are scams designed to solicit money or personal financial information from individuals. When a vishing scam is perpetrated, consumers receive an automated phone call or text message, allegedly from their financial institution, advising them of some fictitious problem such as validating their debit card, updating their information or a compromised credit card. The consumer is then asked to call a number to correct the problem. When they call this fraudulent number, the consumer is asked to provide private financial information such as credit and debit card numbers, PIN’s, account numbers, etc.
How to Avoid Vishing Scams
- If you get a phone call from someone asking for you to give or confirm credit card or personal information, hang up and call Texans at 800.843.5295 or the financial institution that issued the card via the phone number on the back of the credit card or fianancial statement. If the call was legitimate, the provider will have record of it.
- If you get a call from someone who claims to be from Texans or another financial institution, and knows your credit card account number but wants the three-digit code on the back of the card, immediately hang up and report the call. You should also consider getting a new card with a new number.
- Don't assume that the phone call is valid based on the fact that the phone number appears to be a regional number. This is easily done using a new technology called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
- Beware of any phone or email contact from individuals who don't already know your basic personal details.
How to Protect Yourself from Online Fraud
- Never provide personal or financial information to someone who sends unsolicited email or calls you on the phone or on pop-up website requests.
- Type web addresses into browsers instead of clicking on links in emails.
- Change passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) every 30 to 60 days.
- Keep anti-virus and anti-spam filtering software on your computers and keep it up to date.
- Monitor your accounts and credit reports.
To learn more about phishing and vishing scams and what you can do to protect yourself online, go to the Federal Trade Commission website.