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Countless families and individuals are struggling financially during COVID-19. In a truly malicious response to the situation, scammers are lurking and launching phishing attacks claiming to offer financial assistance to those in need. These phishing emails impersonate local government where you are directed to click a link in the email for more information and receive financial assistance. If you click the link, you are taken to a phony government website that will ask for your personal information including your social security number. Don’t be fooled! Anything you enter here is sent directly to the cybercriminals.

Here’s how you can ensure your personal information stays secure:

  • Never click on a link in an email that you weren’t expecting - even if the sender appears to be a legitimate organization
  • Review official government websites and trusted news sources
  • Use another means of communication to reach out to the sender, such as calling their official phone number—not the one listed in the suspicious email

protect yourself while online shopping 

Due to COVID, the majority of us are going to be doing our shopping online. Here are some ways to protect yourself when doing online shopping:

  • Review your credit card transactions often
  • Create transaction alerts
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi
  • Verify that the websites you are visiting start with “HTTPS"
  • Validate social media deals
  • Set strong passwords

Fake login pages

A popular method used to steal your credentials is to use fake login pages to capture your login details. These types of attacks usually start with a phishing email that directs you to use a link in the email to "log in to your account". The emails are usually authentic-looking and present a seemingly-normal request. If you click this link, you’re brought to a login page that looks almost identical to the one you’re used to but is actually a fake page. Once you’ve entered your email and password on the fake page, you may be redirected to the real website–leaving you unaware that your login credentials were stolen.

How Do I Spot a Fake Page?

As the first line of defense, always navigate to your account’s login page by typing the web address in your browser, or using a bookmark that you’ve saved–rather than clicking through links in an email.

Also, be aware of the following tips to help you identify fake web pages:

  • To be on the safe side, make sure the website starts with https:// before entering any personal information.
  • Make sure that the website that you are on is correctly spelled and not mimicking a well-known brand or company.
  • An excess of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar mistakes can indicate that the website was put together fairly quickly with no regard for professionalism.
  • Look for reliable contact information. If you can find another way to contact the brand or company, reach out to them to confirm the email is real.
  • Walk away from deals that are too good to be true. Some retailers will discount older merchandise but if the latest item is also heavily discounted, walk away. It’s probably too good to be true!


There have been reports of members becoming targets in vishing scams. Vishing (phone-based phishing) involves one spoofing their phone number to appear the call is originating from wherever they please. It is a method commonly used to steal personal information from individuals as well as businesses.

Fraudsters are spoofing their phone numbers to make it appear like a call is coming from the victim’s financial institution (like a credit union). When the member answers the call they are told they need to confirm suspicious debit card transactions. The fraudster will then ask the victim to verify their CVV2/CVC2 code on the back of the card as well as the expiration date. Often, fraudsters will already have a copy of the victim’s card and need this information to reset their PIN number. Once they reset the PIN number, they are free to withdraw from the victim’s account.

Simply, never give any personal information over the phone. St. Anne’s will never request this information from you, nor would we ever need it. If you receive a phone call requesting these details from you, just hang up. Still unsure? Call the credit union directly to confirm the legitimacy of the call.

Unemployment Benefits Scam

Unemployment insurance programs are being targeted by imposters, who are using personal information obtained from earlier data breaches to steal identities and illegally receive the financial benefits. If you receive a letter from the Commonwealth of MA (or your state of residence) confirming enrollment in the unemployment insurance program but did not enroll for unemployment insurance – it is an indication that you are a victim of identity theft – PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE.

If you believe that someone is using your identity to falsely claim unemployment benefits – you will need to immediately follow these steps:

  • File a police report with your local police department. Get a copy of the report that you can provide to creditors and credit agencies.
  • Change passwords on your email, banking, and other personal accounts.
  • Make a list of credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions where you do business. Tell them you are a victim of identity theft and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account.
  • Get a copy of your credit report and dispute any fraudulent transactions. You can request credit reports online from the 3 major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) or by calling 877-322-8228.
  • Place a credit freeze with each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies. Call each of the credit reporting agencies at these phone numbers or visit their websites to freeze your credit.
    1. Equifax: 800-349-9960 or freeze your credit online
    2. Experian: 888 397 3742 or freeze your credit online
    3. TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or freeze your credit online
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit file. You can do this by contacting just 1 of the credit agencies to add an alert with all 3 agencies.
  • Take notes about all conversations and keep copies of all records.

For more information regarding this particular scam, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/report-unemployment-benefits-fraud.

For further guidance regarding identity theft in general, please visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Recovery Plan at https://www.identitytheft.gov.


Hackers frequently send spear-phishing emails or run disinformation campaigns that incorporate content about crises or current events. The attacker often adds a sense of urgency to drive home the “importance” of the scenario. As coronavirus infections surge globally, hackers and nation-state actors are using information about the COVID-19 virus to spread malware and disinformation. The attackers have been sending messages with a Microsoft Word document that appears to contain recommendations for preventing a coronavirus infection, but if targets click through the prompts to enable editing and content, they may end up downloading a variant of malware.

How to avoid falling victim to pressure:

The reason these attackers are often successful is that they‘re convincing the target to either avoid a negative consequence or gain something of value. Stop and think about the likelihood of the scenario before making the wrong move.

  • Try to avoid clicking on links in emails. Go to the website by typing in the name directly into a web browser instead.
  • Do not send personal financial information through email (legitimate companies will never ask for this through email)
  • Do not open attachments from unknown senders.
  • If you receive a suspicious email from a trusted sender, call the company to verify it. Attackers will sometimes impersonate another individual to get information.

Security Alerts

The IRS noticed a significant increase in phishing attempts to steal money or tax data, therefore you must be on high alert.

Consumer Protection Information - Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America today. It happens when fraudsters willfully and wrongfully obtain and use your personal data to defraud you. Learn how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Identity Theft - Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Identity Theft - Protecting Your Identity and Safeguarding your Financial Information

Business Security

Running a successful business involves identifying and managing all kinds of risk. To help you protect your business from fraud and other security risks, St. Anne’s provides these helpful articles to take care of your business.

Corporate Account Takeover - Mass.gov

Online & Mobile Security

Technology has brought us easier ways to bank, shop, and manage our day-to-day lives. It’s also brought forth fraudsters who are using sophisticated technology to defraud you. Learn tips, tools, and strategies to protect your money and your technology.

Consumer Online Safety - Federal Trade Commission (FTC)


In today’s digital world, cybersecurity is becoming a top concern and cost for both businesses and individuals as our dependency on computers increases and users becoming more skilled. A majority of the population believes a cyber attack won’t happen to them, but it’s important to consider realistic data which gauges the likelihood of experiencing a cyberattack as one in four. Advancing technology allows us to complete more tasks online than ever before and find answers we need in a matter of seconds, but with this luxury increases the threat of cybercriminals who continually evolve their strategies and tactics to gain access to, and compromise unauthorized data. The best defense against these threats is to be mindful of your actions online and practice smart computer usage that will safeguard both your work and personal life. Take advantage of St. Anne’s smart tools such as CardValet® - a mobile app that allows you to turn your card off/on if your debit card is lost or stolen to prevent fraud.


The IRS noticed a significant increase in phishing attempts to steal money or tax data, therefore you must be on high alert!

Scammers have a number of tax-related tricks up their sleeves when it comes to stealing your money and/or sensitive information. Here are a few examples of sophisticated tax scams that have been found:

  • Scammers send emails posing as tax service companies by spoofing emails and using stolen logos. Once you respond to the email with personal data or tax information, they can pocket your hard-earned money.
  • Similar to the scam above, the bad guys send look-alike emails containing hyperlinks that lead you to malicious websites or fake PDF attachments that download malware or viruses to your computer.
  • Tax scams aren’t limited to emails! Be on the lookout for callers posing as IRS representatives claiming you owe money that must be paid immediately. The callers typically threaten arrests, deportation, or suspension of business or driver’s license.

These are only a few current examples and these scam artists are constantly coming up with new ways to fool you. Remember these helpful tips during tax season and all year round. The IRS:

  • will always mail a bill before calling you about taxes owed.
  • will never ask for credit or debit card numbers mail a bill before calling you about taxes owed.
  • will never ask for you to pay with gift cards.
  • will never immediately threaten to arrest you for not paying taxes owed.
  • will always offer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed before demanding your payment.
  • does not use emails or text messages to discuss personal tax matters, such as taxes owed or tax refunds.
  • will never ask for credit or debit card numbers mail a bill before calling you about taxes owed.


Don't be fooled when someone offers you more money for an item you are selling online!

It is a “red flag” when anyone responds to your posting or ad wanting to pay more for the item.  The buyer offers to use a cashier's check, personal check, or corporate check BUT at the last minute, comes up with a reason for writing the check for more than the sales price.  They ask you to wire back the difference after you deposit the check. However, when you deposit the check and after you have already wired the funds back, you find out that the check bounced leaving you liable for the entire amount.

Some tips to protect yourself are listed below:

  • Don't accept a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don't send the merchandise.
  • If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don't pressure you to send money by Western Union or a similar company. In addition, you have little recourse if there's a problem with a wire transaction.
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