The gist of these articles is:
- Monitor your accounts regularly.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Access your accounts from a secured location.
- Protect your computer
- Keep your system up-to-date.
However, there are so many bank-related scams online now, we thought we’d give you specific ways consumers are being scammed and ways to avoid it.
Avoid These 9 Bank-Related Scams with Simple Precautions
- Ransomware. The usual anti-malware is proof against keyloggers, viruses, and trojans—that is, unless you download them. However, ransomware blocks and encrypts your operating system until you pay the crook for the decryption key. Although consumers in the U.S. comprise the majority of victims, businesses, including banks, have also been targeted. If you know about computers, Laurance Dine’s article in SC Magazine gives you good advice. If you don’t, follow these tips:
- Always keep your security software up to date
- Keep your operating system and other software updated.
- Delete any suspicious-looking emails, especially if they contain links or attachments.
- Be very wary of any Microsoft Office email attachment that advises you to enable macros to view its content. Don’t enable macros.
- Back up important data so you can restore files once an infection has been cleaned up. You can get a thumb drive or an SD card that has the capacity to hold your files. If not, try an external hard drive.
These measures are only partially effective. However, researchers are currently working on anti-ransomware software.
If you are the victim of a ransomware attack, the FBI advises you to contact your local law enforcement agency and FBI field office and report the incident to the FS-ISAC’s Security Operations Center and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.
- Phishing has nothing to do with the band or the activity. Instead, via email or social networks, criminals try to get you to give them login information. One of the most popular phishing scams informs you via email that someone has tried to get into your bank account or your account is about to be suspended. It contains a link to a fake site with a form asking for your login and password and your bank account number. You can usually tell these are fake, because the emails are badly spelled and written. However, one day, they may actually find a native English speaker to write the emails, and more people will fall for it. Banks will never send you a link. If you receive such an email or communication on your Facebook or other social media site, call your bank immediately and report it.
- Guaranteed Bank Loan or Credit Card Scam. If you receive such an offer in your email, just delete it. No one is going to offer you a loan or credit card without knowing your credit history, and they can’t look up your credit history without your permission. The link will either lead you to a phishing site where the crooks will solicit your personal information or the scammers will request processing fees, then make off with your money.
- Password Theft. Yes, it is a total pain that your bank asks you to change your password so frequently. However, there are good reasons for it. Password hacking or guessing is extremely successful for thieves. Never use the same password for your bank account that you use for anything else, and hide the password physically or in an encrypted file on your device. You can even upload the encrypted file to Google Drive or somewhere else in the Cloud so you can access it anywhere. And don’t name the file password.
- Public Computers and Wireless Networks. Don’t use a library or public computer to access your bank or make a credit or debit card payment. Don’t use your smartphone to access your bank or make a payment if you’re using public Wi-Fi. If you do so, you are exposing your login and password information to criminals.
- Check Overpayment Fraud. If you’ve ever tried to sell a big-ticket item on eBay or Facebook, you may have run into the seemingly plausible request by a buyer who can’t access his account for some reason. He will send you a non-cash payment, such as a check, money order, U.S. postal money order, Paypal or similar payment, for greater than the amount of the item and ask you to send him the difference. He’ll tell you he’ll pick up the item after the check clears or the Paypal request goes through. Thinking that he’s placing his trust in you, you fall for it, but the check or whatever bounces, and you’re out the money you’ve sent and a bounced check fee.
- Bogus Sale Fraud. If you’ve ever been on eBay or Facebook and heard a sob story from a serviceman or widow about having to sell his or her precious car/boat/RV for an unbelievably low price, you’ve probably just witnessed a scam. These jokers offer really nice items for really low prices. They ask you for your credit or debit card information, but there is no item for sale. They usually are from other countries, so they just take the money and run. You may have some recourse if you pay with a credit card though, so contact your bank.
- Charity Scams. Even if you are familiar with a charity, do not give them your debit or credit card information over the phone or online if they’ve contacted you. Don’t even use a link or phone number they’ve given you. Look them up, then contact them to make the donation.
- Check-Cashing Scams. Don’t cash a check for a stranger. Even if you take it to your bank, and the bank gives you money, you’re still drawing from your account until the check clears. But it won’t.
The Internet is a wonderful convenience. You can check your account balance online. You can pay your bills online. You can transfer funds online. However, unscrupulous scammers take advantage of the Internet to defraud honest people.
Unsure if something’s legitimate?
If you are unsure about any email or request for payment related to banking, call Mercer Savings at 419.586.5158 for advice. Our financial officers are well-acquainted with online banking-related scams. We’ve been advising customers for more than 125 years, long before the Internet existed, and we plan to continue.