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5 Tips to Outsmart Email Scams

In the financial world, security is a big deal. We are continuously adding and updating security measures to keep member information safe. While there’s a lot we can do at the credit union to keep your money and information safe, but there are some steps that only you can take.

Email can be a vulnerable spot for everyone. Although spam filters and computer security systems can catch many problem emails, some scams seep into every inbox. All it takes is an unsuspecting click or response for a scammer to have access to a victim’s personal information.

2018 saw a massive increase in email scams across the U.S., and some new strategies to trick even cautious recipients. One scam, sometimes called Display Name Spoofing, involves using the name and copied or forged signature line of a trusted sender as the main “display name” in an email preview.  Scammers might use the name of a prominent businessman, a trusted colleague, or a recognized company to trick victims into clicking. This type of scam impacted some of Sierra’s members, and used the names and signatures of credit union employees along with legitimate-sounding subject lines or requests.

We’re doing what we can to keep your information safe, but there are some things only you can do. Here are a few tips to help you identify and deal with scam emails:

1) Put on the Brakes

Before you click any email links, open any attachments, or forward messages to anyone else, take an extra second to make sure you aren’t falling for a scam.

2) Match Check

Make sure the sender’s “display name” and email address match. If the email says it’s from Megan Mathias here at Sierra Pacific, but the sender’s email address is brian_b@fakecompany.org, there’s a good chance the message is a scam.

3) Logic Check

Does it make sense? Were you expecting a message from the listed sender? Do they have any reason to send you a message? Does the subject line check out? If they’re requesting action or information, does the request make sense? Remember, most legitimate companies won’t ask for personal or banking information over email. Anyone who does request personal or banking information should be viewed with a suspicious eye until verified.

4) Panic Check

Many scam artists try to make you ignore common sense by adding pressure to their messages. If a message gives you a sense of urgency, pause for a second to understand why. Is there a stated or implied time pressure? Positive or negative consequences? Do those consequences make sense? Collect yourself and don’t fall for any panic tricks.

5) Double Check

Take a minute to reach out to the “sender” and ask if they sent this email. Use a phone number or email that you have on file, not those provided in the suspicious message.

These are small precautions that can make a big difference to your data security. Next time you open that inbox, take an extra moment before clicking.


Keep an eye out for upcoming security updates from Sierra Pacific FCU as we keep improving on member information security.