During Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the team at GNCU introduced the villainous cartoon to help educate the public about digital scams that set out to steal financial information.
“Smishy” the digital pirate is scheming and scamming through oceans of personal and financial data, taking doubloons and medallions along the way. Like real-world scammers, this sneaky buccaneer texts and calls people falsely claiming to represent a financial institution in the hopes of stealing personal information and funds.
The team at Greater Nevada Credit Union (GNCU) has unleashed this catchy new cartoon character during Cybersecurity Awareness Month in an effort to educate people about money scams and how they can protect themselves. Designed as a villain, Smishy is nicknamed after the term “smishing,” a form of phishing where attackers use text messages to trick recipients into clicking a link or revealing personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, American consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, which is a 70% increase over 2020.
To protect against attacks from Smishy, and real-world scammers, GNCU encourages people to look out for these top five red flags that may indicate a phishing (email) or smishing (text) attack:
- An unsolicited text or email with a link trying to prompt some sort of urgent response such as a bank fraud alert, claiming a prize, claiming a tax refund, or confirming a delivery or purchase.
- Threats and scare tactics are some of scammers’ favorite tools in their toolbelt. Pause before acting on a text that is trying to use this on you. Instead of clicking on a link or responding to an email, contact your financial institution through their website or secure online banking site.
- Someone asks that you make a wire or money transfer or demands you buy a gift card or cash reload card. Again pause before you act, this is a common scam tactic. Fraudsters are good at pretending as if they’re people or organizations you’re familiar with. Consult with friends and family to verify legitimacy or get in touch with your financial institution to be sure.
- You are asked to transfer funds to another account. Credible financial institutions will not request that their members make transfers.
- Someone requests you to enter your account information or PIN online other than your financial institution’s secure online banking portal. At the end of the day, this is what they’re after, your personal information. If you’re unsure if the site is related to your financial institution, do not enter your information. You can also exit out of the message and log into your online banking platform to confirm activity or call your credit union to verify.
Awareness and education are the best ways to prevent yourself and loved ones from falling for scams. Make sure to talk about it often with family members and friends as well. People can visit consumerfinance.gov to learn more about scams and how to protect themselves. The community is also encouraged to like or follow GNCU on social media, @GreaterNevadaCU, for more tips and tricks on how to avoid scams featuring Smishy.
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