What is Phishing?
Phishing is an extremely prevalent email scam that involves the use of replicas of existing web pages to try to deceive you into entering personal, financial, or password data. Chances are, you have received an unfamiliar or unexpected email asking you to verify personal information over the Internet or urging you to click a link. Cyber criminals often operate falsely under the guise of a familiar entity (such as the IRS or bank). Never let your guard down. And be always highly suspicious of unsolicited communications. ALEC, and most other reputable institutions, will never ask you verify account information or request your Social Security Number, PIN, CVV or one-time passcode by phone, text, or email.
Other safeguards to help protect you from phishing scams:
- Beware of any email messages that use a tone of urgency or scare tactics (such as threats to close accounts).
- Do not respond to email messages asking you to verify personal information.
- Delete suspicious email messages without opening them. If you open a suspicious email message, DO NOT OPEN ANY ATTACHMENTS OR CLICK ANY LINKS.
- Install and regularly update virus protection software.
- Keep your computer operating system, smartphone apps and system, and web browser current.
If you see a suspicious-looking email message claiming to be from ALEC, please contact us immediately. We continually monitor such reports and act on them promptly to ensure the security of our members. To learn the important steps to take if you've become a victim, read our article, How to Report Identity Theft.
What is Vishing?
Similar to Phishing, Vishing is the act of using the telephone in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The scammer usually pretends to be a legitimate business, and fools the victim into thinking he or she will profit.
What is SMSishing?
Similar to Phishing, SMSishing (SMS phishing) is when a potential identity thief sends you a text message asking for personal or account information. Because the text appears to be from a reputable contact, many people respond, and that’s when the theft begins.
If you’ve downloaded a virus or Trojan Horse:
Viruses or a Trojan Horse (unobtrusive malware that is inside your computer that contain malicious code) often install “keylogger” programs that capture every keystroke on your computer, then forward the information you typed to cyber criminals (such as Social Security Numbers, account and credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, plus other valuable personal data).
If this occurs, you likely may not be aware. To minimize this risk, you should:
- Install and/or update antivirus and personal firewall software.
- Update all virus definitions and run a full scan.
- Have a professional clean your computer completely and update all of your passwords.