According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the report on fraud estimates indicated that American consumers lost around $1.9 billion to phishing scams and other fraud activity in 2019.
The total amount lost to fraud eclipses the gross domestic product (GDP) of over 20 individual nations. This ensures that a fraud attempt against you is no longer a matter of if, but rather is now a matter of when.
It goes almost without saying that 2020 will see an increase in phishing and other fraudulent activity. When new forms of fraud are discovered or certain events, like a pandemic, take place, the incidents of fraud only increase. You likely have seen the news stories about massive fraud schemes relating to COVID-19. Everything from scams to part states with critical unemployment money to campaigns to scare people into clicking about their stimulus payment are in full effect.
So how do you protect yourself from the different versions of fraud and scams out there?
Online Scams Are Not So Scary
Online scams conjure up scary ghosts for many people. It seems like the scammers are a juggernaut that are always two or three steps ahead. However, the reality is that most scams are easier to spot than you think. If you know the right characteristics of a scam, it will not matter if the scammer is using phone calls, text messages, or emails. You simply won’t fall prey to their tricks.
The truth is that scammers typically work from the same toolbox. Their tactics all play on emotion and quick decisions. Have you ever watched a TV shopping network or infomercial? The idea is to create a limited time window to act. You feel hurried because that shiny product might not be there in the next five minutes if you don’t act now! Scammers work the same way. They want you to panic or make a quick decision in response to their message.
Whether you are panicked because your account might be closed or simply annoyed because you need to get this call off the phone to answer another is immaterial to the scammer. The result can just as easily be the same – you sharing information that leads to an account or personal information breach.
Simple Steps to Be Smarter About Fraud
The month of October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and First Palmetto Bank has joined the #BanksNeverAskThat campaign sponsored by the American Bankers Association (ABA). We invite you to follow us on Facebook or Instagram as we share important information about your online security.
When it comes to protecting your bank account, there are some easy rules to remember to prevent the bad guys from winning. It all begins with the phrase: banks never ask that!
Top 3 Phishing Scams
There are some key red flags with the top three phishing scams:
- Text Messages – First Palmetto Bank will never contact you with a text and request that you sign in via a link or provide any sort of personal or account-related information. If you receive a text asking for you to sign in to a link or provide an account number, remember: Banks never ask that.
- Phone Calls – First Palmetto Bank will never contact you to verify a bank account number or other sensitive information over the phone. If you receive a phone call and are concerned that it may be a legitimate call, simply inform the caller that you are hanging up and will call your bank office to verify.
- Email – Be on the alert any time you receive or open an email purporting to be from First Palmetto Bank. This includes on your phone when you are quickly checking in a distracting environment. The sender may claim or even appear to be from the bank, but by simply not clicking on the link you can save a lot of heartache.
We have all likely received the emails about a long lost princely relative or a wealthy aunt promising to share their wealth if you provide a small favor. But as you know, these emails have not stopped coming. You have probably seen other scams, too. Some of the most effective scams are not exactly new. Scammers will simply change their tactics by disguising the same requests in other forms.
The more aware you are of basic information security, the more difficult it will become for scammers to operate. The #BanksNeverAskThat website provides even more helpful hints and tips on how to avoid scammers.
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