Financial fraud is on the rise, and protecting your information is more important than ever. When we’re stressed, scared, or vulnerable, it’s easier for scammers to take advantage. They know this, and they’re making their attempts more sophisticated than before.
We’ve noticed an uptick in fraud reports and questions lately, so we’re sharing a few tips to educate and empower you to protect yourself. Here are some common scams to watch out for, and what to do if you experience them.
3 common financial scams
Phishing (email, phone, and bank fraud)
Scammers text or email with some sort of an alert (your account is suspended, your credit card is on hold, etc.), asking you to enter your personal information or click a link to log in. They might even pretend to be representatives of important institutions, like the IRS. They will use this login to steal your account information or possibly force you to download malware onto your device.
For example, we’ve heard reports of scammers sending fake bank alerts (texts, emails, calls, etc.) telling customers that their accounts have been suspended. Then, customers are asked to click through to a fake web link and enter their login information, which is stolen and used to access their accounts.
What to do: Don’t click on any suspicious links or enter your information into anything other than the real website for your financial institution. Before you enter your information, double check that the website address is correct, there is a “lock” icon next to the address at the top of your browser, and everything looks the same as it has in the past. Never give any personal or financial information to anyone over the phone, unless you’ve called the bank directly.
Skimming (debit and credit card fraud)
Fraudsters might try to steal your credit or debit card information when you use your card to make a purchase at a store, gas station, or other business. This could involve using devices to copy your card’s magnetic strip or take pictures of your card.
What to do: Always keep your card in your sight, cover PIN pads when you enter your PIN, and check your accounts a few times each week to ensure all purchases were made by you.
Scammers use stolen information to impersonate you and gain control of your account. This typically happens after they have “phished” your personal information through emails, texts, or phone calls, or by stealing your mail. Scammers may open new accounts or cards in your name, move your money, make purchases using your information, or take other fraudulent actions.
What to do: Check your bank accounts regularly to ensure all activity is accurate. Sign up for two-factor authentication so there is an extra layer of security when logging into online accounts, and set up fraud alerts so you’re notified quickly if any suspicious activity happens. Switch to electronic delivery for statements and important documents. Call your bank and financial institutions directly instead of returning missed calls from unknown numbers or clicking links in a text or email.
3 steps to safeguard your information
- Before you take any actions, carefully read and consider the message or request.
- Ask yourself whether or not your bank or financial institution would reach out to you in this way.
- Look at any information (such as names, web addresses, etc.) in the message. Keep an eye out for subtle misspellings and other common tricks fraudsters used.
- Don’t click on any suspicious links, enter your information into anything other than the real website for your financial institution, or accept calls from unknown numbers. If the call or email seems suspicious, hang up or delete the message immediately.
- Contact financial institutions directly by typing their website address into your browser or calling the phone number on that website. Do not call back unknown numbers or click links in emails or suspicious websites.
- Set up two-factor authentication on all of your accounts (online banking, email, social media, etc.), and sign up for account activity alerts via text or email.
- Check your financial accounts a few times a week to identify any suspicious account activity (transactions, address, phone number, etc.).
- Switch to electronic delivery for account statements and important documents.
- If you suspect your accounts or information may have been compromised, call your financial institution immediately.
- Share this information with friends and family so they can protect themselves too. This also helps protect you, since you are a part of their digital network.
- If you suspect your accounts (email, social media, etc.) may have been compromised, notify your contacts quickly and ask them not to open any suspicious emails or links.
Gateway Bank’s procedures
We never: Ask for your personal information through unsolicited calls, texts, or emails. You will only receive official communications from Gateway Bank through your official account portal (or you will receive emails or texts about these official messages).
We always: Encourage you to call or email us directly if you suspect any suspicious activity on your accounts.
We’re working hard to protect you and your information. If you have any questions or need help deciphering if a request is legitimate, get in touch with us.