Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fake Texts, Pop-Ups, and Downloads

Cyber-fraud thieves continue to bombard consumers with fraudulent contacts via text messaging, computer pop-up messages, and software apps that appear to originate from legitimate businesses or government sources. Consumers are being tricked into providing valuable personal information over their computer, phone, or fax that can result in funds being drained from their accounts.

Smart phones in particular are being targeted because scammers know that most users have their phones with them and tend to read and respond more quickly to text messages, calls, and emails. Beware of any contact that focuses on the "urgent" nature of a response. Creating fear and panic is one of the goals of cyber-thieves as they want people to react differently than they normally would under calm circumstances. Fake messages and fake web sites are also harder to detect on the smaller screen of a smartphone. The key is to never provide any personal information or click on any link in response to one of these "urgent" messages. Only communicate with your financial institution using phone numbers or email addresses that you are certain about.

Unexpected pop-up windows on web sites can often be an attempt to either infect your device with spyware or obtain personal information. It is normal for the credit union to request a login ID and password when you sign in to either home banking or mobile banking. It is also normal for challenge questions to be asked if you are signing in from a new computer or location. It is NOT normal however for a financial institution to ever ask you - through a pop-up window - to type your name and information such as account number, date of birth, PIN numbers, and other personal information.

Consumers should be very suspicious of unsolicited offers to download free games, programs, and other apps. These great "deals" could contain malicious software to direct you to fake web sites or install spyware used to steal information that can lead to loss of funds. Anyone surfing the Internet from their phone or computer device should always have an updated anti-virus service to protect against fraud. Consumers should only install programs and apps from legitimate web sites, such as your Internet service provider, financial institution, wireless phone company, or trusted app providers.

Mobile technology is a wonderful resource for consumers but it also provides a growing opportunity for cyber-criminals to generate new methods of committing fraud.

No comments: