How Can I Protect Myself Against Internet Fraud?

Phishing can take place through different mediums and the most common threat is through emails. Criminals send out phishing emails that look exactly like what comes from a legitimate company (your credit card company, credit union, government agency or any other service or business) in an effort to deceive you into divulging your personal or financial information. Some phishing emails also link to viruses or malware that will compromise your computer and result in all of your information being available to the criminals or even destroyed. Phishing emails often urge you to act quickly or else something bad will happen. For example, a criminal could send you an email that looks like it’s coming from a company you’ve just purchased a product from. You receive the product and then the “company” sends you an email saying they never received your payment and are taking you to court unless you give them your credit card information so they can process the transaction. It is very important to be cautious when dealing with emails. It is often the easiest and most successful way criminals steal your information.

Protect yourself against “Phishing Scams”

  • If you are ever in doubt about the legitimacy of an email, contact whoever sent it to you directly. If it was a company, look for the contact information online. Do not use the contact information in the email.
  • Ask yourself why someone would be sending you the email. The email might look real and sound urgent but often times if you take a minute to think it over, the email being sent might not be what it seems. Always ask why and think before you act.
  • Never give your personal information via e-mail. People’s Community Credit Union will never request personal information via email.
  • Never go to any website by clicking a link in an e-mail Always type the website address in the search bar on your browser. It is very easy to “spoof” a link to a website. Also, always make sure the website has “https” in the address bar. “https” means that the website is secure and no one can look in on what you are doing.
  • Make sure your computer system has all current patches installed and keep your anti-virus/anti-spyware software up to date. Keeping your system patched and your anti-virus software up to date could be the difference between your information being secure or compromised.


“Malware” is a catch-all term used to describe malicious software. Malware is any type of software or code specifically designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. Some malware is simply designed to destroy, while most types are designed for some sort of financial gain. That gain could be from stealing your login credentials, account information, credit card numbers, or any other data on your computer. Malware can even be used to perform other malicious activities with all of the incriminating evidence pointing back to you. There are a number of ways you can be infected with malware. You could open an attachment from a friend who’s already been infected. You could click on an infected link in an email or on a social networking site. You could even click on an infected ad on a website. Cybercriminals are always trying to find a new way to infect unsuspecting users.

Malware not only targets computers but also mobile devices. Most mobile malware is spread by downloading infected apps. Make sure the apps you download and the websites you download them from can be trusted. Also, be aware of what permissions each app accesses on your device.

Protecting yourself against “Malware”

  • Keep your operating system and applications up to date.
  • Make sure that your anti-virus/anti-malware/anti-spyware software is up to date.
  • Be selective on what sites you visit.
  • Never go to a website by clicking a link in an e-mail. Always type the website address into the search bar on your browser.
  • Beware of links on social networking sites.
  • Continue learning about cyber security threats and how to protect yourself.

Keystroke Logging

Keystroke logging is often referred to as keylogging performed by a keylogger. A keylogger (short for keystroke logger) is software that tracks or logs the keys struck on a keyboard. This is typically done stealthily without you knowing that your actions are being monitored. Although there are some legitimate uses for keyloggers, most are used for malicious intent to collect your account information, credit card numbers, user names, passwords, and other private data.

A keylogger can be installed just like any other piece of malware. With just a simple click on an infected link, anything that you type on your keyboard could be sent to someone with malicious intent.


Ransomware is a type of malware that takes over your computer and encrypts all the data. Once the data is encrypted, you have to pay a ransom in order to have it unencrypted. There is only a limited amount of time, normally 72 hours, for you to pay the cybercriminal to unencrypt your data. Most of the time, the longer you take to pay, the more it costs to get your data back. When that time runs out, your data is deleted. Ransomware is very effective because many people do not have backups of their data. Make sure you always have a backup of your data. If you don’t have a backup and something happens, your data it’s gone forever. Ransomware is the fastest growing type of malware that cybercriminals are utilizing.


*Javelin Strategy & Research


Internet Fraud in Vancouver WA

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