SOUTHERN FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

Office: 713-232-7774     Fax: 713-232-7122

         
   
 
By clicking any third-party link, you will leave this website and be redirected to a third party site. The mere fact that there is a link between this web site and another does not constitute a product or program endorsement by Southern Federal Credit Union or any of its employees. Southern Federal Credit Union has no responsibility for content of the web sites found at these links, or beyond, and does not attest to the accuracy or propriety of any information located there. Privacy and security policies on the third party website may differ from those practiced by Southern Federal Credit Union. The credit union does not represent either the third party or the member if the two enter into a transaction.
 
 
 

Consumers should stay on alert to avoid being ‘PHISHED’

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) advises consumers to stay on alert as phishing scams continue to increase. In the last several months, the FBI has issued numerous alerts, including its latest notice informing the public of a phishing scam that involves the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The FBI warns consumers not to fall prey, as this e-mail scam lures them to a fake IRS web site. Unsuspecting consumers believe that by clicking on the link provided, they will be directed to the IRS web site where they can follow the necessary steps to receive their owed tax refund. In actuality, they are redirected to a fake web site where their personal data, including credit card information, is captured.

The IRS is of course not the only organization to be exploited in this type of scam. The FBI has issued alerts warning consumers of phishing attacks imitating organizations such as the American Red Cross and even the FBI itself. Even credit unions, leagues, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and NCUA have been impersonated.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests these tips to help consumers avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And don’t click on the link in the message, either. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company’s correct Web address yourself. In any case, don’t cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser — phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different site.

  • Use anti-virus software and a firewall, and keep them up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically. A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It’s especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Operating systems (like Windows or Linux) or browsers (like Internet Explorer or Netscape) also may offer free software “patches” to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.

  • Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization’s website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.

  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer’s security.

  • Forward spam that is phishing for information to spam@uce.gov and to the company, financial institution, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems.

  • If you believe you’ve been scammed, file your complaint at www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC’s identity theft web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Victims of phishing can easily become victims of identity theft. While you cannot entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these new accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You may catch an incident early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the three major credit bureaus. See www.annualcreditreport.com for details on ordering a free annual credit report.

You can learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam at www.ftc.gov/spam.