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West Chester Police Department

Operating Safely Online - Phishing Scams & Malware Campaigns

The West Chester Police Department is working with the United States - Computer Emergency Readiness Team to alert residents to the dangers of online phishing scams and malware campaigns.

Shopping online and receiving unsolicited emails can lead scammers to your internet accounts resulting identity theft and other life-changing crimes.

Phishing scams and malware campaigns may be linked to:

  • Electronic greeting cards that may contain malware
  • Requests for charitable contributions that may be phishing scams and may originate from illegitimate sources claiming to be charities
  • Screensavers may contain malware
  • Credit card applications on line may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts
  • Online shopping advertisements may be phishing scams

Police warn internet users to use caution when encountering these types of email messages and take precautions including, but not limited to, making sure your computer is equipped with updated security software. More advice:

  • All computers should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
  • Keep personal information (including Social Security Number or birth date) private and your password secure.
  • Use secure websites for purchases.  Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or "https" in the URL address.
  • Shop with companies you know and trust.  Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company. 
  • Use a credit card rather than a debit card for online purchases.
  • Check credit statements online - do not wait until the end-of-the-month statement - to confirm payment and challenge errors.
  • Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
  • Use caution when opening email attachments.

More information and resources available at links below.