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Phishing fraud up 600% in 2009

We at Hutchinson Credit Union have noticed an uptick in fraudulent phishing emails, some of them directly targeted at our members. So, it's a new year and we thought it timely to bring you the following message. And remember, if you are ever in doubt, please contact us first. We've helped our members avoid many bad situations and have experts in the area of fraud who would love to help.

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Criminal phishing (e-mail), smishing (text messaging) and vishing (telephone) attacks increased nearly 600 percent in 2009. Unsuspecting credit union members continue to respond to fraudsters who contact them through various methods to obtain their personal or financial information. These scams are well-designed to mimic legitimate organizations (including credit unions).

The following are examples of phishing requests mimicking credit unions:

"Your account has been temporarily suspended because of a security breach at our credit union. Please provide your information to our security department to reactivate your account."
 
"Your credit card was suspended. Our customer service department needs your information to reinstate your card."

"Your loan is delinquent. Payment is needed "immediately" (over the phone)."

"You can receive a reduced interest rate on your loan. We need to confirm your information."

This type of socially-engineered breach of personal or financial information is a potentially costly and devastating crime. Fortunately, losses can often be prevented through member awareness combined with sensible everyday practices.

Members should never respond directly to requests that purport to be from a credit union or any other company, no matter how urgent or persuasive the request. Instead, members should initiate the communication using the customer service number listed on their monthly statement or on their Credit Union's website, to verify that the request is legitimate. 

Tips to protect yourself:

  • Don't respond to e-mails, text messages or telephone calls asking for personal identification or financial information
  • E-mails and Internet pages created by scammers may look exactly like credit unions, so don't follow links contained in emails
  • Learn more about phishing scam techniques at www.antiphishing.org
  • Take action immediately by alerting your credit union, placing fraud alerts on your credit files, and monitoring your account statements
  • Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT

You can also learn more on our Fraud Identity Protection page.