Types of Online Fraud

The best way to protect yourself from online fraud is to stay educated. Know how to recognize a scam and avoid becoming a victim.


Phishing is a method used by scammers to obtain confidential information via the Internet. Identity thieves send an email made to appear as though it was sent from your financial institution or other retailer. The email will state your account has been compromised and direct you to click on a link that has been provided in the email in order to verify your information. The link will direct you to a website disguised as your financial institution or other retailer but will not be a legitimate website. The website will then instruct you to enter personal and/or financial information in order to verify the compromised account. This information is fed to the scammer who can use it to access your real accounts and conduct transactions.

Tips to Avoid Phishing Scams: 

  • Check the website properties. Right click anywhere on the web page and select "Properties." You should see a list of properties, including the web address of the site. If you do not see a list of properties or the web address does not match your financial institution's, do not enter any of your information. If you were directed to the website through a link in an email, delete the email immediately.
  • If you find yourself questioning the legitimacy of an email, contact your financial institution or other retailer directly by phone. Do not use any of the phone numbers listed in the email received or the website the email directed you to. Instead, call the phone number listed on a recent statement or type the known website URL into the address bar of your browser.
  • Before entering any personal information, verify that the address bar shows "https:" instead of just "http" and that you see a padlock icon in the bottom right hand corner of your web browser. Many phishing websites will look to be legitimate but will lack these security features.


Vishing is a method scammers use to obtain confidential information via email. Identity thieves send an email stating your bank account, credit card, or PayPal account has been compromised and in order to verify your account details you must call the phone number provided in the email. The phone number you call is disguised to appear as the institution referenced in the email. When you call, you are asked to enter your name, card or account information, as well as your Social Security Number.

Tips to Avoid Vishing Scams: 

  • Never call a phone number provided in a spam email.
  • Review the email carefully. Take note of any spelling errors as well as any company information provided.
  • If you believe the contact is valid, go to the company's website by typing in the address you know to be correct or call the phone number listed on a recent statement. If the phone numbers listed on your statement are different than what was provided in the email, chances are the email is part of a vishing scam.
  • SEFCU will never ask you for any confidential information via non-secure email. If you receive an email from SEFCU and are unsure of its legitimacy, contact us immediately.


Malware is suspicious software downloaded onto a computer with the intent to infect and harm the computer's software programs or to steal data. Software is classified as malware not based on its features but on its harmful intent. The most common types of malware are Trojans, viruses, and spyware.


Trojans are often concealed within a game, picture, video, or other type of download that is desirable to a user. Trojans themselves are not self-replicating but will often contain other types of malware such as viruses. Trojans are most commonly used to crash the computer it was downloaded on or steal information.


A virus is the most well-known type of malware. A virus infects legitimate software already installed on your computer. It is not activated until the infected program is opened and run, at which time it spreads to other software programs on your computer.


Spyware is a type of tracking software that both gathers information that is already stored on your computer as well as new information being entered once the spyware has been installed. Spyware causes abnormal behavior on a computer such as an inability to access the Internet, system slowness, and the device frequently shutting down or restarting. Learn more about how you can defend your computer from spyware.