One thing you have to say about criminals operating in today’s rapidly expanding technology-based society: they aren’t dumb.
Neither are banks. In a never-ending quest to protect their customers, banks have their hands full to stay ahead of today’s incredibly adept fraudsters.
Ever resourceful and innovative, criminals were quick to capitalize on the rapid growth in digital banking during the pandemic, as consumers became more accustomed to dealing remotely with financial institutions.
Although every business sector encourages all of us as customers to be careful about protecting their extremely valuable personally identifiable information, it seems we just keep falling for the scams, opening ourselves to identity theft and fraud schemes designed to separate us from our money.
Plus, electronic communications are now so advanced that we could go for days without having an actual personal conversation with anyone. It has become too easy to “communicate” via email or text message, or “PM” (Private Message) or “DM” (Direct Message) on social media.
Scam emails used to be obvious and easy to identify. In recent years, however, they have become so sophisticated and believable that even trained cybersecurity professionals can’t always identify what is or isn’t real. In many cases, criminals are now using security alerts and emails that look exactly like those sent from banks to capture customers’ login information.
Scams today come in a multitude of forms. “Phishing,” which is one of the simplest forms of scams, is when a fraudster sends you an email or other message, pretending to represent a real company, like your bank. But they may be actually trying to trick you into revealing personal information, such your account number, Social Security number or credit card numbers, or maybe a password.
And there also are colorful sounding variations on phishing, like “spear phishing” or “smishing” or “vishing” or “whaling.” The scams go on and on and on.
Nothing captures a consumer’s attention more than an urgent email from their bank, warning them that their account has had a security breach. That’s a real problem that could cause almost any customer to fly into a panic and want to respond immediately.
“If you are contacted with disturbing news by someone who says they are from your bank, don’t respond immediately,” says Jennifer Wyatt, Vice President and Information Security Risk Officer of First Community Bank. “If you are ever in doubt that the caller is legitimate, just end the call, and then call the bank directly using a phone number that is already known to you.”
Banks are targets of about one-third of all phishing attacks, according to the American Bankers Association, which has created a public information program called “Banks Never Ask That.” The program offers these tips:
If you receive a message from someone claiming to be from your bank, asking you to sign in to your account, or asking you to provide your personal information, it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.
Watch out for emails that ask you to click a suspicious link or provide personal information. The sender may claim to be someone from your bank, but it’s a scam.
Would your bank ever call you to verify your account number? No! Banks never ask that.
Beware of text messages from someone claiming to be from your bank saying your account has been hacked. The scammer may ask you to send money to a new account they’ve created for you, but that’s a scam!
Thieves have become so adept at hacking into systems that it is increasingly difficult to identify whether a communication is coming from a legitimate source.
Don’t respond immediately. Stop. Think. Call your bank.
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