Real Life - A Case Study

Recently, a consumer in the eastern Suffolk County market area received an email from one of his credit card companies.  The email stated that is was a notification of a "security alert," and directed him to verify information by "clicking here."  On the hyperlinked site, the consumer was directed to "verify" secure information, including date of birth, social security, mother's maiden name, and information regarding his credit card account.

RED FLAG!  No legitimate service provider would ask you to do this!

After he completed and sent the information, it bothered him sufficiently for him to call his credit card company to verify the origin of the "security alert" email.  The credit company indicated that they did not initiate the email, and promptly closed the compromised account.

The consumer was alarmed and notified his financial institution of the identity theft attempt through this "phishing" incident. 

This was really smart!  It is unlikely that the cyber bad guys won't try to use the compromised information to the fullest extent that they can AND that potentially malware now resided on the consumer's PC.  Other account information, including account numbers, logins, and passwords were likely at risk.

The financial institution set up an alert on the consumer's accounts.  Approximately one week later the consumer was called by his financial institution to determine if he had initiated a transfer request from his account to an account in his name at another financial institution.  He had not.

Because he and his financial institution were diligent, he averted the fraudulent transfer of funds from his checking account.  The cyber criminal set up the transfer using the consumer's own login and password credentials!  His personal information was accessed via malware deployed without his knowledge on his own PC. 

His financial institution took prudent steps to prevent this fraud from reoccurring.  The consumer took all security steps necessary prior to accessing any online services.  And, importantly, the consumer continues to monitor the activity of all his online services.  His attention to the activity of his online services is one of the best ways to catch and minimize any attempted fraud.

Please take a look at the computer safety tips included in the other links on our Keeping Safe Online page.  You can take several easy steps to secure your personal information.