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Protecting Yourself from Online Crime


Online crime or cybercrime is an ongoing threat. Overall, some think that the only form of cybercrime you have to worry about is hackers stealing your information. There are many different ways criminals attempt to attack you in the forms of phishing, smishing, and vishing. Certainly, the best way to protect yourself from online crime is to educate yourself. Additionally, you should take precautions to help protect against it.

Online Crime


Phishing is when a cybercriminal fraudulently attempts to get your personal information. Basically, the fraudster will pose as a legitimate company that you may or may not have a relationship with. For example, a financial institution, retailer, or government agency.

The email that you receive often looks or sounds almost identical to a legitimate organization.  Additionally, they will the company logo and create an email address that resembles the organization.  Most fraudulent emails will ask you to click on a link. Thereafter, you may visit a website that may look like that it belongs to a trusted organization. Once you’ve reached that website, they may ask you to log in using your username and password. Unfortunately, once you enter this information, the fraudster has captured your information.



Smishing is a form of phishing that uses mobile phones through text messages or SMS. Moreover, the criminal executes the attack with the intent to gather personal information, including social insurance and/or credit card numbers. This form of attack has become increasingly popular. Generally, people are more likely to trust a text message than an email. Most commonly, smishing examples include bank notifications, package updates, act-now coupons, and urgent warnings. Also, if you receive any of these from unknown numbers, be suspicious, especially for financial texts.



Vishing is the fraudulent practice of making a phone call or leaving a voice message. Basically, the fraudster will state that they are from a reputable company to obtain personal information. The information they request could be something as simple as your family information. This is often called social engineering. Accordingly, the fraudster may also ask for bank details and credit card numbers.  If it’s not a live person, the call is an automated system that leaves a message. The message states that there is a problem with your account and asks you to contact them. When you go to these places or call, they will ask you for your personal account information. Vishing scams have become increasingly common. Surprisingly, 40% of all mobile calls are vishing scams. Additionally, 75% of all scam victims were called by criminals who already had the victim’s personal information.


Online Crime

With online crime, financial institutions, retailers, and government agencies cannot directly control these criminals. Overall, information becomes compromised is if the individual falls prey to the scam and gives their personal information. If you ever receive an email or text, do not click on the links provided in the text or email message. Also, add the sender to your blocked list.


Certainly, the best way to avoid a vishing attack is to avoid answering phone calls from numbers that you do not recognize. If you do answer and the fraudster is claiming to come from a legitimate organization, ask them to verify their identity.

If you get a suspicious phone call or think you’ve been targeted in a vishing scam, you can file an official complaint with The Federal Trade Commission online or by calling (888) 382-1222.  Additionally, it’s important to change your passwords on your accounts, notify your banks and credit card companies and carefully monitor your financial activity if for any reason you believe that your personal information might be compromised.



Importantly, Pearl Hawaii will never send emails, text, or call you and ask you to provide, update, or verify account passwords, Social Security numbers, PINs, credit or debit card numbers, or other confidential information.

If you have received an email message, text message, or voice message claiming to be from Pearl Hawaii Federal Credit Union and asking for you to give out personal or confidential information, it is fraudulent. Pearl Hawaii already has this information on record and would have no need to ask.

If you have received one of these fraudulent messages and did give out your personal information, please contact Pearl Hawaii immediately at (808) 737.4328 (73-PHFCU), email us at, or contact us through secure messaging.



  • E-mails or texts claiming that you are eligible to receive a large sum of funds (inheritance, lottery winnings, wire transfer, etc.).
  • The criminal will inform you that someone you know is in trouble and needs help right away.
  • The scammer may develop a romantic relationship with you. Over time, they will state that they are a victim and need money. They will wait for you to volunteer to send funds, or they may directly ask you for money.
  • Receiving a text about an unexpected delivery, to check a credit card or banking transaction that you did not enroll for, or a survey request.


  • Robocalls claiming that there is a warrant for your arrest, you will be subject to an audit, you need manufacturer insurance, that you owe a debt, there is an issue with your tax return, or there is a discrepancy with your account.
  • A phone call or email asking for you to donate money or for your account information to help their charity or non-profit.
  • The scammer typically says there has been unusual or fraudulent activity on the victim’s account and asks the victim to confirm their bank account details, account numbers, mailing addresses, or other identifiable information.
  • The fraudster will impersonate tech support from a reputable company and relay a report of suspicious activity on the victim’s account. Subsequently, they will ask to confirm your account details. Additionally, they might also ask for an email address to which they can send a software update. They will instruct the victim to install updates on their computer to avoid their account being compromised. Unfortunately, the software update is a way to plant malware on the victim’s computer.
  • Criminals often target seniors in their attacks, and they pose as Medicare or Social Security representatives to try and glean sensitive information from victims. They might call asking for Medicare account details to receive a new Medicare card or ask victims to confirm their Social Security number to avoid termination of the benefits they’re entitled to.
  • Always be suspicious of a caller who claims to be from a government agency and proceeds to ask for financial information. Government agencies never call out of the blue asking for sensitive information or money.


  • DO NOT provide any personal financial information to the caller or in an email.
  • You SHOULD verify the legitimacy of potential service providers before supplying personal financial information or entering a business transaction.
  • If you suspect that your personal information has been compromised, contact Pearl Hawaii and local law enforcement officials.
  • To file a complaint about a suspected fraudulent email, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at



  • To learn more about identity theft fraud safety visit ID Theft Center.
  • If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site to learn more.
  • If you believe your Social Security Number is being used fraudulently contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.
  • It’s a good idea to get a copy of your credit report each year from each credit-reporting agency. You can get a free credit report yearly from the Annual Credit Report website at or by calling 1-877-322-8228 where you will go through a simple verification process over the phone. It is important that you obtain and review a copy of your credit report once a year to make sure your information is accurate.
  • For financial literacy, check out  Upgrade| our blog or our financial education page.


Upgrade you.

From home or car loans to Hawaii’s most innovative banking services, Pearl Hawaii is committed to you. Bank at any of our Oahu locations in Waipahu, Ewa Beach, Waianae, Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, or near the Airport. Additionally, you can bank using PHFCUOnline just like one of our branches. To contact us, call us at 808.737.4328, toll-free at 800.987.5583, or email us at