While we are all taking precautions to limit social interactions and wash our hands to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we also must take steps to protect our finances and identity. Scammers are now taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to lure victims in with new “phishing” scams. For so many of us, the internet is a part of our daily lives-even more so with social-distancing and telework these days. Thankfully, we are staying connected with our friends and family everywhere, we can pay our bills, conduct our business, and even buy new products without even leaving the comfort of our homes. And while this makes these trying times a little more convenient for some, it may open us up to more vulnerability.
Phishing remains one of the top ways cybercriminals get access to your identification and financial information. Using phone calls, emails, and even copycat websites, scammers are creating content that may appear official and related to COVID-19- tricking us into revealing personal information like bank account numbers, credit accounts, Social Security Numbers, login IDs and passwords. At the same time, by clicking a link, we may also unknowingly download malware that infects our computer and captures our data.
What should we be on the lookout for? Here are some ways scammers try to “phish” for our information:
Names of Real Companies
Phishers/Scammers will often use legitimate company names and copy the look of official websites and emails to fool us. Right now, they’re even sending out correspondence that looks like it is from the World Health Organization (WHO), local governments, or other trustworthy sources.
Threats and Urgent Messages
Many fraudsters try to use scare tactics to obtain information by threatening something like the deletion of our accounts if we don’t respond. Don’t be fooled.
Sometimes the URL (web address) will look right, but instead of taking us to our intended website, it will lead us to a copycat website. Check to see if the URL begins with https://, which indicates a site is secure. Most phishing scams won’t have a secure website. Never click on a URL within an email; instead type the URL into your browser.
Wire Transfer Requests
Phishing attempts extend to wire transfers, too. While those who are closing a new home are typically top targets for these particular scams, anyone is vulnerable. In these scenarios, a scammer sends what appears to be a legitimate email requesting a wire transfer to cover title, escrow or any number of costs. Unfortunately, money we transfer as a result of a fraudulent email ends up in the fraudster’s bank account-and we’re not likely to get it back. If you receive such a request, call your financial institution to verify that it has made this request.
Regardless of tactics used, we can take action to protect ourselves from phishers:
Set up accounts for success!
Taking simple steps like using strong passwords (never use the same for different sites), setting up transaction notifications (link to CardValet) and ensuring your contact information stays up to date with your financial institutions are all easy ways to enhance your online security.
Call and Clarify
If you feel that something is amiss, call the company to verify the information. Be sure not to use a number provided in a suspicious email or even on a Caller ID. Use numbers on your statement or policies or policies or from the official website. If you are worried about charges to your accounts, call the branch or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for bad spelling.
Large companies and organizations use professional writers and editors. Phishing emails often have unnatural or incorrect grammar and misspellings. Keep an eye out for grammar and spelling mistakes.
Beware of links.
If you get an unexpected email telling you to sign in and take care of a problem, get a bonus, or something else that throws you off, be wary. If you’re suspicious of an email, don’t click any links of buttons in the email. Hover your mouse over the link and see if the address that appears matches the link typed into the message. If it does not match, don’t click the link, as it could take you to a fraudulent website or download malicious software.
Read your statements
Look closely at your monthly financial statements. This can help you detect fraudulent transactions faster if your identity is stolen. Did you know that our debit cards come with free fraud alerts? Members will receive a text message to confirm suspicious transactions. We offer FREE Fraud Alerts with our Visa Debit Cards. We monitor your ATM and Debit card transactions and will alert you of any suspicious charges. Learn more.
Increase your security
If you engage in online financial transactions, frequently updating personal firewalls and security software installed on your computer is essential to keeping your information safe.
Using a different computer
If you find fraudulent transactions on your account or suspect your info has been compromised, use a different computer to change your passwords if you can.
Keep up with the news.
Staying up to date on news of phishing attacks can help you protect yourself. Anti-phishing organizations may provide lists of new and current phishing scams.
If you want to keep reading, the Federal Trade Commission shared more information on how to keep yourself safe.
Learn more through Banzai and our financial coaches. They have tutorials and articles to help you learn how to protect yourself from scams, identity theft, and how to manage your money in times like these!
With current events we have experienced an increase in phone calls to our branches. If you need to reach us, please leave us a message or email us at email@example.com.