How to Avoid Getting hooked by a "Phishing" Fraud

"Phishing" is a malicious act that involves the use of fraudulent emails and copy-cat websites to trick you into revealing valuable personal information - such as account numbers or login IDs and passwords. The fraudsters who collect this information then use it to steal your money or your identity or both.

These fraudsters lure their targets into a false sense of security by hijacking the familiar, trusted logos of established, legitimate companies. A typical phishing scam starts with a fraudster sending out millions of emails that appear to come from a high-profile financial services provider.

The email will usually ask you to provide valuable information about yourself or to "verify" information that you previously provided when you established your online account. To maximize the chances that a recipient will respond, the fraudster might employ any or all of the following tactics:

  • Names of Real Companies - Rather than create a phony company from scratch, the fraudster might use a legitimate company's name and incorporate the look and feel of its website (including the color scheme and graphics) into the phishy email.
  • "From" an Actual Employee - The "from" line or the text of the message (or both) might contain the names of real people who actually work for the company. That way, if you contacted the company to confirm whether "Jane Doe" truly is "VP of Client Services," you’d get a positive response and feel assured.
  • URLs that "Look Right" — The email might include a convenient link to a seemingly legitimate website where you can enter the information the fraudster wants to steal. But in reality the website will be a copy-cat - a "spoofed" website that looks for all the world like the real thing. In some cases, the link might lead to select pages of a legitimate website — such as the real company’s actual privacy policy or legal disclaimer.

Urgent Messages - Many fraudsters use fear to trigger a response, and phishers are no different. In common phishing scams, the emails warn that failure to respond will result in discontinued access to your account. Other emails might claim that the company has detected suspicious activity in your account or that it is implementing new privacy software or identity theft solutions.

How to Protect Yourself from Phishing

The best way you can protect yourself from phony phishers is to understand what the Unit Trust Corporation will and will not do. Most importantly, we will never ask you to provide or verify sensitive information through a non-secure means, such as email.
Follow these five simple steps to protect yourself from phishers:

  1. Pick Up the Phone to Verify - Do not respond to any emails that request personal or financial information, especially ones that use pressure tactics or prey on fear. If you have reason to believe that the Unit Trust Corporation actually does need personal information from you, pick up the phone and call us at 868-625-8648(UNIT) and we will clarify any questions you may have.
  2. Do Your Own Typing - Rather than merely clicking on the link provided in the email, type the URL into your web browser yourself (or use a bookmark you previously created). Even though a URL in an email may look like the real deal, fraudsters can mask the true destination.
  3. Beef Up Your Security - Personal firewalls and security software packages (with anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware detection features) are recommended when using online systems such as U online. Make sure your computer has the latest security patches, and make sure that you conduct your financial transactions only on a secure web page using encryption. You can tell if a page is secure in a couple of ways. Look for a closed padlock in the status bar, and see that the URL starts with "https" instead of just "http."

Security Tip: Some phishers make spoofed websites which appear to have padlocks. To double-check, click on the padlock icon on the status bar to see the security certificate for the site. Following the "Issued to" in the pop-up window you should see the name matching the site you think you're on. If the name differs, you are probably on a spoofed site.

What to Do if You Run into Trouble

Always act quickly when you come face to face with a potential fraud, especially if you’ve lost money or believe your identity has been stolen.

  • Phishy Emails - If a phishing scam rolls into your email box, be sure to tell us right away.  Speak to one of our friendly customer service representatives at 868-625-8648 (UNIT) or send us an e-mail at uonline@ttutc.com