How to protect yourself from scammers

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Your personal safety is incredibly important—both online and off. Unfortunately, there has been a significant increase in scams, both online and over the phone.

Some credit unions have been reaching out to members by phone, email, online, or social channels. You are part of a community and your credit unions wants to make sure they’re able to provide financial services to all members. If your credit union is contacting you, they will not ask for your social insurance number or account number but may ask for information that is specific to you to verify your identity. If, at any time, you receive an email, phone call, social media message, or other form of communication that makes you feel uncomfortable, disengage and call your local credit union directly and let them know. They will be able to verify whether the communication is legitimate.

We’ve prepared some general advice to help keep you safe over the phone and online.

How to stay safe over the phone.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

As thousands of Atlantic Canadians are facing tough financial realities right now, a call with the offer of money might sound like just the thing you need or have been hoping for. But beware—many scammers pose as government agencies or services to create false authority. Any reputable or valid call will not ask for personal information.

Ask for verification.

Some scammers use automated messages to trick you. If that is the case, you can just hang up. However, if you find yourself on the phone with another person, don’t be afraid to ask for verification of who they are, why they’re calling, and what they’re looking for. If something feels off, hang up. And remember, never share your personal details.

Listen to what’s being said.

Be wary of language that makes you feel uneasy, threatens your safety or the safety of a loved one, creates a sense of urgency, or uses an overly aggressive tone. And whatever you do, don’t share your personal details.

Pay attention to the number.

Most phones—either mobile or landlines—have caller ID. Always check the number before you answer. If you don’t recognize the area code, phone number, or the caller details, proceed with caution.

When in doubt, hang up.

If you find yourself on a phone call that feels suspicious, simply hang up. Your safety is the most important thing.

How to stay safe online.

The phone is not the only place where there has been an increase in scams. Email phishing scams are also on the rise. Phishing is when cyber criminals attempt to trick you by sending emails that appear to be coming from credible or authentic sources. There are a few tell-tale signs to look out for:

The email is designed to make you panic or have a sense of urgency.

A common tactic for phishing emails is to create a sense of panic or urgency—that you must take immediate action or else something will happen (your email account will be shut down, somebody urgently requires money, etc.).

The email asks you to confirm personal information.

Keep an eye out for emails requesting you to confirm personal information that you would never usually provide, such as banking details or login credentials. Do not reply or click on any links.

The web and email addresses seem genuine.

A phishing email will often come from an address that appears to be genuine. Criminals aim to trick you by including the name of a legitimate company. But take a closer look—if it seems off, it probably is.

It’s poorly written.

Incredibly, most phishing emails are poorly written and contain spelling mistakes or unusual phrases. If you have received an unexpected email that is riddled with mistakes, this is a strong indicator that it is actually a scam.

There’s a suspicious attachment.

If you receive an unexpected email with an attachment, beware. Even if you think an attachment is genuine, it’s good practice to always scan it first using antivirus software.

Your safety is our number one priority. If you have any questions, reach out to your local credit union.