Friday, March 11, 2016 



Avoid Being Taken to the Cleaners  

Fraud online and what is malware and phishing? 

Erin Nesci, PCU Abbotsford


he ease of managing our money online can come with a price: an increased risk of “phishing attacks” by fraudsters trying to get confidential information by posing as a legitimate source.


Phishing attempts are becoming more sophisticated for crimes like identity theft and financial fraud. A 2014 survey by Pollara Strategic Insights[i] indicates that one-third of Canadians have fallen victim to scams resulting in malicious software on their computer, disclosure of personal information and loss of money.


March is Fraud Prevention Month and Prospera urges members and consumers who perform online financial transactions to be vigilant and protect themselves against fraud.


Here are some tips to protect your online financial security:


Change your email password regularly

Email interactions sometimes leave enough information behind for an email hacker to use to compromise an account. Make sure you change your password regularly—ideally at least twice a year.


Secure computing

Consider accessing your sensitive online services (e.g. finances) only from dedicated secure devices, such as a work computer or a smartphone and in secure locations, not while using public Wifi. Family computers with many users can be easy targets for today’s easy-to-infect malware.


Sign up for alerts

Many credit unions offer security alerts. Members receive an alert via text or email about any activity relating to risky transactions such as an e-transfer.


Activate 2-step security

Many online services offer stronger authentication security. Consider turning these optional features on in your more sensitive online accounts. These might be called “2-Step Security” or “2nd Factor Authentication” or “2-Step Verification.”


Vacation alert

Let your financial institution know when you’ll be travelling to ensure your financial services are not delayed while enjoying your vacation. Your account can be better protected against unauthorized access this way.


Stay secure

Ensure your computer has an up to date malware scanner with real-time monitoring and removal capabilities. To learn more about fraud, or report a fraud, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.


What is Malware?

Malware is short for malicious software. The three phases in a malware attack most commonly used in online banking fraud are infection, data collection and monetization. In phase one, a computer or mobile device becomes infected with malicious software, usually found via a link sent through an email or contained in a website.


Once infected, the malware can look for and record information from an infected computer or mobile device. The recorded information is than transmitted back to a command and control server or network.


The attacker will try to use the information taken from the user’s computer or mobile device. For example, they may sell personal information to commit identity theft or they may continue to control an individual’s computer and use confidential information for fraudulent activity.


About Prospera Credit Union

Building on more than 70 years of history in British Columbia, Prospera Credit Union is proud to be a member owned co-operative with operations from Vancouver to Kelowna. As a full service financial institution that prides itself on building relationships, we serve our members through sixteen branches; online and mobile banking; and a locally-based contact centre. Through our membership in The Exchange network, our members enjoy access to more than 3,300 surcharge free ATMs across Canada (that’s right, no ATM fees).


Making life better for everyone is important at Prospera. With an extensive community investment program devoted to supporting the organizations, events and volunteers that make our communities stronger, Prospera makes a meaningful difference in the financial well-being of our members and our communities. To learn more, check out Prospera’s YouTube channel and Facebook page or visit the credit union’s newsroom online at


[i] Survey conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights for Visa Canada





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