Cyber crime is on the rise, and continues to present a major threat to businesses and individuals alike. For example, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 467,000 complaints in 2019 alone — an average of almost 1,300 every day. They also reported individual and business losses totaling more than $3.5 billion.
Cyber criminals use a variety of methods to get what they want. They may use social engineering techniques, such as claiming to be an authority figure when reaching out to targets over the phone. They may use spoofed emails that masquerade as legitimate messages from reputable organizations. They may also set up their own fraudulent websites or apps to ensnare their unsuspecting victims.
How can you protect yourself from these malicious individuals, especially when banking online? This article will discuss a few helpful suggestions.
How to Spot a Scam
The first step to preventing a scammer from causing you harm is identifying the scam at the outset. There are several telltale signs of a fraudulent communication that you need to know in order to protect yourself. For example:
- Scammers almost always contact their victims through unexpected messages. These could be over the phone, through a text message, or via email.
- Real banks, and their representatives, would never reach out to you and ask for your password, PIN, social security number, or other sensitive information. If a mysterious caller/emailer wants to obtain such information, don't provide it!
- Many unexpected messages may contain a link or attachment. Perhaps the message will say that the link takes you to the company's website, or that the attachment contains urgent information. Don't click on any link, or open any attachment before verifying it’s legitimate! Odds are, they contain malware, or will redirect you to a fake website. In fact, email scams are responsible for a whopping 4% of malware attacks! In order to verify the legitimacy, check not only the name of the sender, but the email address too. If you think it looks “phishy” do a Google search to ensure the sending domain is legit before opening or clicking on anything.
Ways to Protect Yourself
Of course, some scams can be easier to spot than others; and some cyber criminals use more sophisticated tools and techniques than the average attacker. Still, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of falling victim to a scammer. These include:
- Trusting your gut. If your instincts are telling you that a certain message appears "phishy," or that an email attachment may not be what it seems to be, then listen to them. Call the number from your bank statement or the back of your card to verify that the message is legit.
- Creating strong passwords. Weak passwords have resulted in thousands of hacked bank accounts, and much grief. Don't just create a simple password without thinking about it — if it's easy for you to remember, then it may be easy for a cyber criminal to guess. Instead, use a meaningful password that contains uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, as well as special characters. In addition, Third Coast Bank utilizes two-factor authentication.
- Keeping your private information private. Above all else, never give out your personal banking information to someone you don't know. Even if a stranger on the phone is giving you a plausible story, or an email message looks legitimate, don't assume that things are as they appear to be. Always verify with your bank before giving out sensitive information.
It's so important to stay safe online, especially when it comes to your banking. After all, if a cyber criminal gets hold of your information, then he could get away with everything in your account.
Fortunately, Third Coast Bank is looking out for its account-holders. We work hard to educate our customers on best practices for online banking, how to identify phishing scams and other types of fraud, and how to keep their account secure. Together, we're helping Texans to safely bank online, for now and for years to come.
Third Coast Bank considers your online security as important as your personal well-being. Please review the Security Center on our website to find resources to help you Safeguard your Private and Financial information to understand how we will help protect you when you decide to open an online account!