Online Threats & Other Scams

Malware

Software that is intended to be harmful to a computer. Malware could be a virus, worm, Trojan horse, spyware or adware.  Some malware is designed to gather information from your computer or log your keystrokes to gain information such as usernames and passwords.

It is important to have anti-virus/anti-malware software installed on your computer and keep it up-to-date in order to detect and block these types of threats.

Pharming

A form of online fraud that redirects a website’s traffic to a bogus website. The fraudulent website will look very similar to the legitimate website.

It is important to pay attention to the website address you are on before entering any information.

Phishing

An attempt to collect personal information such as usernames and passwords by an attacker claiming to be a trustworthy source. Phishing scams are generally initiated through an official-looking email that asks the victim to urgently click on a link and provide personal information. Other phishing scams originate in an email that asks the recipient to call a phone number to verify information. Often times the caller reaches an automated voice response system that asks them to provide personal identifying information.

Legitimate banks and other financial institutions will not ask you to provide usernames and passwords.  If you have any doubts or concerns about information that is being requested, contact your financial institution.

For more information about pharming or phishing, please visit http://www.bos.frb.org/consumer/phishpharm/index.htm.

Vishing

Similar to Phishing, but conducted via telephone rather than through email.  The caller will claim to be from a trustworthy source and attempt to gain personal information.

Social Engineering

A way of manipulating people to share their personal information.  This may be someone posing as a trusted source or it may be someone who uses intimidation or fear to gain information. 

For additional information on common scams, please visit www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud.