While online banking and e-commerce is generally safe, as a rule you should be careful about providing any personal information over the Internet. Consolidated Communications Internet Support has compiled a list of recommendations below that you can use to avoid becoming a victim of these scams.
- Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal information.
- Phishers typically include upsetting or exciting (but false) statements in their emails to get people to react immediately.
- They typically ask for information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, date of birth, etc.
- Phisher emails are typically not personalized, but they can be.
- Don't use the links in an email, instant message, or chat to get to any web page if you suspect the message might not be authentic or you don't know the sender. For example, a phishing email reads “visit webmail.consolidated.net”, but instead the link brought users to a page that looked like Consolidated Communications' webmail login screen, however the URL was something very different.
Instead of clicking a suspicious link within an email, call the company on the telephone, or log onto the website directly by typing in the web address in your browser.
- Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information. Instead communicate this type of information via the telephone or a secure website.
- Phishers are now able to 'spoof,' or forge both the "https://" that you normally see when you're on a secure Web server and a legitimate-looking address. You may even see both in the link of a scam email. Again, make it a habit to enter the address of any banking, shopping, auction, or financial transaction website yourself and not depend on displayed links.
- Phishers may also forge the yellow lock you would normally see near the bottom of your screen on a secure site. The lock has usually been considered as another indicator that you are on a 'safe' site. The lock, when double-clicked, displays the security certificate for the site. If you get any warnings displayed that the address of the site you have displayed does NOT match the certificate, do not continue.
- Remember not all scam sites will try to show the "https://" and/or the security lock. Get in the habit of looking at the address line, too. Were you directed to PayPal? Does the address line display something different like "http://www.gotyouscammed.com/paypal/login.htm?" Be aware of where you are going.
- Consider installing a web browser tool bar to help protect you from known fraudulent websites. These toolbars match where you are going with lists of known phisher Web sites and will alert you.
- Regularly log into your online accounts
- don't leave it for as long as a month before you check each account
- Regularly check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate
- if anything is suspicious or you don't recognize the transaction, contact your bank and all card issuers
- Ensure that your browser is up to date and security patches applied
Please remember to always report "phishing" or “spoofed” emails to our technical support group or call 1.844.YOUR.CCI.