Phishing is a type of fraud that involves an attacker attempting to learn and utilize an individual’s personal information. Examples include credentials used for logins, banking information, and other types of financial information by masquerading as an entity that is considered to be reputable and/or a trusted individual known to the victim through instant messaging programs, text messages, emails, social media platforms, and other types of virtual communication channels.

In most instances, phishing victims receive some type of message from – what they believe to be – a trusted and/or known contact, financial institution, or similar type of organization. Somerville National Bank wants to alert all of their current and potential customers to be especially cautious during this time of year for phishing scams.

In this brief guide, we will provide basic information pertaining to phishing and how you may protect yourself from these vicious and exceptionally costly scams.

First and foremost, you should know and understand that phishing scam artists will use a multitude of methods in order to obtain a consumer’s financial information. They may send a fake email or create a website that appears to be legitimate so that they may obtain a person’s Social Security number, their checking account number, their savings account number, and other types of personal and highly sensitive information.

Many tricks are utilized in order to make the emails and/or websites appear to be legitimate. For example, professional-looking graphics and realistic links may be used. If you are asked for any type of personal information, you should be cautious and practice extreme caution. Research the link to see if it includes “https” and analyze the writing for grammar and punctuation errors. If any questions arise, contact the supposed sender or organization to confirm the legitimacy of the correspondence.

In addition to “phishing” there is “pharming”. This is a type of identity theft where a cybercriminal engages in the act of hijacking internet traffic. This means that when you enter in the link of a legitimate website, you are actually directed to a fake website. Once you arrive on the site, you feel comfortable entering in your personal information.

Unfortunately, that information is then harvested. This means that it is obtained – illegally. Once the information is obtained by the cybercriminal, it is then used to commit fraud. The cybercriminal may elect to use the information themselves, or, they may choose to sell the information to others that will commit crimes.

In order to avoid phishing and pharming, you should always be suspicious when someone initiates contact with you in an effort to obtain your personal information. It is imperative that you know that organizations and financial institutions will never contact you in an unsolicited fashion to obtain your account number or your financial information.

Prior to engaging in acts that require you to share your personal information, validate the correspondence and/or link involved. Somerville National Bank has a strong desire to ensure that all of their customers and their personal information is kept confidential and not used illegally.

For more information on protecting yourself from phishing, contact us at one of our many locations today: