Posts Tagged ‘online fraud’

Online Fraud Can Come Wrapped in Holiday Bows

Don't let cyber Grinches steal your Christmas cheer

With the success of cyber Monday, more retailers than ever are offering great deals exclusively online.  Unfortunately, many cyber thieves are set to make Santa’s “naughty” list as they prey on unwary, bargain-hunting shoppers with a variety of scams.  Here are some ways you can keep these Grinches from stealing your Christmas:

  • Purchase and install a firewall and anti-virus software before making online purchases.  If you already have protective software, be sure to keep it updated.  You should receive notices when updates are available.
  • Don’t click on links that advertise “free” items, gift cards, holiday gifts or employment.  If interested, go to the website of the company purported to be making the offer (don’t get the web address from the e-mail) and verify the legitimacy of the offer.  If you don’t see the offer, try calling them. 
  • Free cell phone app offers can be tempting, but if you are interested in one you learn about in a text, social media or e-mail, look for it in a recognized App store.
  • Be very careful of electronic greeting cards-they may contain spyware or malware, thus installing trouble on your device in a pretty package!
  • Resist the temptation to click on “Free” offers on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Follow the safety tips on online auctions like ebay and Craigslist to prevent paying for an item you never receive.
  • It’s wonderful to give to charities at the holidays, but be wary of phone or e-mail solicitations for donations.  You want to ensure that you are actually giving to the charity of your choice and not an imposter.  Look up their website and contact them on your own to arrange a donation. PFCU has dozens of non-profit community partners we work with that would be worthy recipients.  The Federal Trade Commission also has a Charity Checklist.
  • Watch your accounts online for fraudulent activity so you can shut it down quickly.  Our online banking is free and easy to initiate at www.pfcu.org.  You’ll find demos for both Online Banking and Bill Pay. You can even set up text and e-mail alerts so you know right away if specific types of items hit your accounts. 
  • Look for secured sites that have https in the web address.  The “s” stands for “secure” and represents additional security to give you peace of mind. 
  • Check out McAfee’s “Avoid the 12 Scams of the Holidays
  • Bookmark and check frequently the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) Online Security Tips

 

With these tips, your holidays should be “smooth sledding”.  The additional assurance these tips bring will make your holidays much more enjoyable.

Ramnit: A Cyber Worm that Can Really Ruin Your Day

Staying ahead of malicious computer programmers is a challenge and requires an ever more complicated combination of precautions to ensure that your financial data is not getting into the wrong hands.

In a recent article, we warned you about “spiders” on the worldwide web.  Another particularly dangerous threat is known as a “worm”.  A worm is able to spread to other computers without being transmitted through e-mails or malicious websites.  One such worm is the “Ramnit” which has surfaced in Europe but is quickly spreading throughout the world.  The Ramnit takes advantage of the viral aspect of sites like Facebook.  Programmers realize that many people use the same password for social networking sites that they use for their bank accounts.  This makes it very easy for a worm to capture data and provide access to the funds of unsuspecting victims.  In addition, it sends messages to a user’s friends disguised as an article or other link and then prompts them to click.  As many as a million people a day click on erroneous links that then infect their computers, and the results can be a real headache.  If it seems unlikely that a friend would send you particular message, they probably didn’t.  Beware. 

Pasadena Federal Credit Union constantly monitors fraud alerts and works with online services that invest millions of dollars annually in security.  Our web hosting company has received numerous awards for their attention to security and we regularly review their efforts. 

Unfortunately, even a well-constructed password by itself is not very effective these days in protecting accounts.  Our new Online Banking and Bill Pay upgrade includes some new multi-factor authentication steps.

            -A site phrase selected by the user

            -A site key, which is a picture unique to each individual that helps verify they are on the actual site they intend to log into and not an imposter site

            -Security Questions

Never use the same password for multiple accounts and do not use a password a stranger could guess, such as your birthdate, social security number, address, nickname or other information.   These can open the door to identity theft.  Keep a log of hints that would help you recall a password but which would be meaningless to anyone else.   

When answering security questions that are things others might easily discover about you, such as names of relatives, your favorite color, etc. consider purposefully choosing an alternative answer (one that you will remember).  For example, if your niece is named Susie but she has blond hair, you might consider saying her name is “Blondie”.  Remember that someone who gains access to your social network also gains access to a potentially rich mine of information about you.  They can often determine things such as the names of family members, so those answers may not be the best ones to protect you. 

We have a very helpful demo on our website that walks members through some the exciting and helpful changes effective on our Per$onal Branch Online Banking and Bill Pay beginning February 9, 2012.  Watch it to familiarize yourself with these changes.