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How to Identify & Avoid Phishing Scams

Home » Security and Fraud » How to Identify & Avoid Phishing Scams

Meriwest is very proactive when it comes to our member security. We have outlined additional useful information and tools that will help you protect your security.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a form of online identity theft that uses spoofed emails designed to lure recipients to fraudulent websites which attempt to trick them into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, social security numbers, etc. By hijacking the trusted brands of well-known banks, online retailers and credit card companies, data suggests that phishers are able to convince recipients to respond to them. As a result of these scams, an increasing number of consumers are suffering credit card fraud, identity theft, and financial loss.

How To Identify Phishing

Phishing email messages, websites, and phone calls are designed to steal money. Cybercriminals can do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your computer. Cybercriminals also use social engineering to convince you to install malicious software or hand over your personal information under false pretenses. They might email you, call you on the phone, or convince you to download something off of a website.

How To Avoid Phishing Scams

The number and sophistication of phishing scams sent out to consumers is continuing to increase dramatically. While online banking and e-commerce is very safe, as a general rule you should be careful about giving out your personal financial information over the Internet. The Anti-Phishing Working Group 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 financial 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, etc.
    • Phisher emails are typically NOT personalized, while valid messages from your bank or e-commerce company generally are.

  • Don't use the links in an email to get to any web page, if you suspect the message might not be authentic.
    • Instead, 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.
    • You should only communicate information such as credit card numbers or account information via a secure website or the telephone.

  • Always ensure that you're using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your Web browser.
    • to make sure you're on a secure Web server, check the beginning of the Web address in your browser's address bar - it should be "https://" rather than just "http://".

  • 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, contact your bank and all card issuers.

  • Ensure that your browser is up to date and security patches have been applied.

Other useful links:

Please note that you will NEVER receive an email from Meriwest asking you to verify your account information. And if you do, please report it to us immediately by calling 1-877-MERIWEST or send an email to

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