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Avoid Falling Victim to Digital Scams

August 29, 2022

As technology improves each passing moment, consumers are finding themselves growing more dependent on mobile apps and digital payments in their daily lives than ever before. Mobile devices can accomplish almost anything from paying bills and managing money to ordering groceries and coordinating transportation through payment apps digitally connected to bank accounts.

Although using a mobile phone makes paying for goods and services easy, consumers should be aware of how to protect themselves, since fraudsters’ main goal is to steal money any way they can access it. Sometimes, it is through gaining personal information or passwords to gain access to your payment methods or bank account information. Other times, fraudsters set up a scam so victims will pay them directly through gift cards, money transaction, or person-to-person payments.

By knowing and understanding how fraudsters are attempting to execute scams, consumers can avoid falling victim.

Spoofing Phone Numbers
Phone spoofing is the use of fake caller ID to mask the real phone number of an incoming call. Spoofed numbers can look like they’re coming in from a particular location or organization, which increases the chances of people picking up.

Watch this video from the Federal Trade Commission to learn more about spoofed phone numbers and how to spot them: 

Phone Scams
Phone scams can come in through robocalls or real people. Once on the phone, fraudsters use a variety of methods to extract personal information from the consumer. This includes acting with urgency and preying on heightened emotions by claiming they are from a company (such as a utility company, bank, and even the police) and instructing the person to provide personal information such as a Social Security Number, login and password for an online account, a bank account number, and in some cases—they get the consumer to wire money to the fraudster. When a consumer picks up the phone and thinks the person on the other end might not be who they say they are, the best action to take is to hang up and call the company back on their actual phone number--don’t merely dial the number from the caller ID.

Understand what information a bank or financial institution will never ask you over the phone. Find out more at https://banksneveraskthat.com

Consumers who want to be proactive in blocking robocalls can do so here: fcc.gov/robocalls.

Text Scams
Spam text messages are growing more and more frequent, which, when combined with our constant phone usage, can implicate a lot of consumers. If a text message comes through with a link—no matter who the text is from—always pause before clicking the link!

Smishing or phishing are two terms associated with this type of scam. These types of scams can be under the guise of any number of situations, but the most popular spam texts are about:

-A pending package delivery
-Urgency regarding an online account, such as a bank
-Winning a cash prize
-Entering a contest to win a cash prize
-A locked or closed account

These texts can come from recognizable and unrecognizable numbers. They are sent out en masse to see who may click on the link, which may or may not ask a consumer to input personal information that can allow cybercriminals to steal someone’s identity, empty a bank account, or install malware on the phone. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers should be weary of any texts or calls coming from these area codes: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849, and 876. The FTC also advises to never pick up or text back a number that a consumer doesn’t recognize.

Online & Text Combo Scams
The term “multi-factor authentication” is one many consumers have heard but might not fully understand. According to Microsoft, the best way to explain it is a two or more step process to prove to the service you’re trying to access that you are, indeed, who you claim to be. In essence, this is one of the most effective layers of security because it requires the accountholder to input a code before gaining access to the account.

According to Microsoft, “Usernames are often easy to discover; sometimes they're just your email address. Since passwords can be hard to remember, people tend to pick simple ones, or use the same password at many different sites.
 

That's why almost all online services - banks, social media, shopping - have added a way for your accounts to be more secure. You may hear it called "Two-Step Verification" or "Multifactor Authentication.” When you sign into the account for the first time on a new device or app (like a web browser) you need more than just the username and password. You need a second thing - what we call a second ‘factor’ - to prove who you are.

Fraudsters who are attempting to gain access to an online account may call up a consumer pretending to be a Customer Service or other representative from a company and tell the caller they are “sending” them a code via text message, and to tell the person calling what that code is. This is how fraudsters gain access to an account—by using a verification code and other login info—fed to them directly by an unsuspecting caller.

Learn more about how to spot scams and take the quiz at https://www.scamspotter.org

Learn More
While all consumers are equally susceptible to falling victim to fraud, senior citizens are one of the most targeted groups. The AARP has developed a special website for fraud watch that provides information and education on how to best protect this vulnerable demographic. To sign up for fraud watchdog alerts, read news and information, and to report fraud, go to: https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/.

Centier To You, Centier Bank’s Financial Education Series, has a free e-course on identity theft, including Top 5 Tips on staying protected and a worksheet. It can be accessed here: https://www.centier.com/centier-to-you-identity-theft/.
 

The Federal Trade Commission wants consumers to report fraud in order to work with law enforcement across the country to investigate and bring cases against fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Consumer fraud can be reported at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/

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