The new wave of scams: 5 threats to protect yourself against
Not all banking threats target the banks. In fact, it’s easier for scammers to gain access to your accounts by tricking you into handing over personal information. As people grow smarter about the methods being used, the tricks these scammers adopt grow more sophisticated, making it harder for people to spot. Although there are countless methods used, we’ve gathered five key threats to keep an eye out for—and protect yourself against.
Threat #1: Spoofing a Phone Number
We’ve all received calls from robots using numbers that are vaguely familiar. Sometimes we’re tricked into answering, but once we hear the robotic voice, chances are we don’t stick around for long. Scammers are using a similar technique, but this time they disguise their number as your bank or credit card company—or even a tech company claiming your computer is outdated and needs to be upgraded. But instead of a robot on the other line, the scammer is there to notify you of an issue with your account (or device) and ask for your personal information to fix it. It’s all rather convincing, which makes it a major threat to your financial wellbeing.
To make it abundantly clear, banks will never contact you to ask you to share your personal information. If you receive a call like this, hang up and call the number on the back of your card, or your local branch. Even if it’s the same number as the one that called you, still hang up and call.
Threat #2: Fraud via Text
Instead of a caller asking you to share your information, this threat leverages a text from an unknown number (or email address, which is an even bigger red flag). Different from promotional or informational texts from your bank, these scams claim someone has made suspicious charges on your account. To correct the issue, you’ll be asked to click a link where you’ll then be required to provide personal account information. The more sophisticated scammers will create a link that looks almost identical to your bank’s website, making it easier to fall for their scam.
The text may even offer some sort of monetary bonus or incentive by clicking the link, but don’t trust it. The only time you should enter/disclose your account information, is when you are sure you are on a company’s valid website or mobile app.
Threat #3: Money Transfers
Digital payment tools like Zelle, CashApp, and Venmo have grown in popularity over the years, making it easy to pay or transfer money. But with that convenience comes the threat of bank imposters. Much like the previous threat, these scammers will alert you to a suspicious charge on your account, but this time they’ll ask that you send money to yourself to help reverse the charge, routing the money to themselves instead. Bank of America and Wells Fargo customers recently fell victim to this scam, but that doesn’t mean you should, too.
Other iterations of this scam have also appeared, including people claiming a loved one is either sick or in jail and you need to wire them money to help. If you receive a call from a “bank representative” who tries to instruct you on how to reverse a charge (or someone telling you to transfer money), hang up immediately and call your local branch. By initiating the conversation with an actual bank employee, you’ll be able to confirm whether there has been suspicious activity on your account. More importantly, you’ll never be asked to transfer money, especially through a platform outside of the bank’s secure website or app.
Threat #4: Door-to-Door Collections
It may seem odd, but there have been cases of door-to-door collectors pretending they represent a bank or credit card company. They’ll claim you missed a payment or owe them money for some reason or other. They tend to prey on the elderly and threaten fines or criminal proceedings if they don’t pay up. Although not as common, it goes without saying that no bank will come knocking on your front door. If you encounter a scam like this, don’t give them any money and don’t share any personal information. Instead, call the authorities immediately.
Threat #5: Government Scams
No one wants to be audited by the IRS. You know it, we know it, and scammers know it, too. They use that fear against you, pretending to be a government official and threatening legal action if you don’t pay your supposedly outstanding tax debt. But don’t let that fear get to you, because no one from the government—IRS or another agency—will call you and aggressively demand payment.
As people adapt to this new wave of banking scams, so will the scammers themselves. That’s why it’s always important to refrain from sharing any personal information—account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, etc.—unless you initiated the conversation with a trusted party. While you’re on the lookout for potential scams, you can rest assured the Community Bank team has your back and will keep your accounts safe from any cyber threats. To learn more about our online security, visit our website today.