CYBERSECURITY

Avoid Common Phishing Scams in Today's Digital World

Written by 
,  
Personal
Oct 27, 2022
|
Updated 
12:30 pm
 
ET

Firstrust Bank would like to remind you that we are committed to ensuring that our customer's finances and personal data are safe and secure. Every day, regular people like you lose their hard-earned money to online phishing scams; therefore, we’d like to share with you some tips and tricks so you can learn how to spot suspicious emails, texts and phone calls and know the things your bank would never ask.

Email scams account for 96 percent of all phishing attacks, making email the most popular tool for scammers to disguise and make it look like it came from your bank.

  • Avoid clicking suspicious links. If an email pressures you to click a link – whether it’s to verify your login credentials or make a payment, you can be sure it’s a scam. Banks never ask you to do that, so it’s best to avoid clicking links in an email. A good trick is to hover over the link to reveal where it really leads, and when in doubt, call your bank directly.
  • Raise the red flag on scare tactics. Your bank will never use a scare tactic or utilize high-pressure language to get you to act quickly. Demands for urgent action should put you on high alert. No matter how authentic an email may appear, never reply with personal information like your password, PIN, or social security number.
  • Be skeptical of every email. It’s good practice to treat every incoming email as a potential risk to protect you from scams. Fraudulent emails can appear very convincing, using official language and logos, and ever very similar URLs. Always be alert of these kinds of things.
  • Watch for attachments and typos. Your banks will never send attachments like a PDF in an unexpected email. Misspellings and poor grammar are also telltale warning signs of a phishing scam. Immediately change your password if you clicked on a link and entered any personal information into a fake site, and contact your bank by calling the number on the back of your card.

Phone call scams are a scammer’s way of trying to cheat you out of your money by impersonating your bank over the phone. In some scams, they act friendly and helpful. In others, they’ll threaten or scare you. Scammers will often ask for your personal information or get you to send them money. Your bank never will.

  • Watch out for a false sense of urgency. Scammers count on getting you to act impulsively, usually by including a threat. Phrases like “act now or your account will be closed,” or even “we’ve detected suspicious activity on your account” are ones likely used by scammers – don’t give into the pressure.
  • Never give sensitive information. Never share sensitive information like your bank password, PIN, or a one-time login code with someone who calls you unexpectedly – even if they say they are calling from your bank. Banks will always need to verify personal information if you call them, but never the other way around.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID. Scammers can make any number or name appear on your called ID. Even if your phone shows it’s your bank calling, it could be anyone. Always be wary of incoming calls.
  • Hang up – even if it sounds legit. Whether it’s a scammer impersonating your bank or a real call, stay safe by ending unexpected calls and dialing the number on the back of your bank card instead. If you gave a scammer personal information like your SSN or bank account number, go to IdentityTheft.gov to see what steps to take, immediately change your password if you’ve shared it, contact your bank, and file a police report if you notice you’ve lost money from your account.

Text message scams attempt to trick you into sharing personal information like your password, PIN, or social security number to gain access to your bank account. If you don’t respond to these messages and delete them instead, your information is safe. All you need to do is spot the signs of a scam before you click or reply.

  • Slow down and think before you act. Acting too quickly when you receive phishing text messages can result in unintentionally giving scammers access to your bank account – and your money. It’s the goal of a scammer to make you feel confused and rushed, which is always a red flag. Banks will never threaten you into responding or use high-pressure tactics.
  • Don’t click links. Never click on a link sent to you through a text message – especially if it asks you to sign into your bank account. Scammers often use this technique to steal your username and password. When in doubt, visit your bank’s website by typing the URL directly into your browser or login to your bank’s mobile app.
  • Never send personal information. Your bank will never ask for your personal identification numbers or passwords in a text message. If you receive a text message requesting that sensitive information, it’s a scam.
  • Delete the message. Don’t risk accidentally replying to or saving a fraudulent text message on your phone. If you are reporting the message, screenshot to share, then delete it. If you fall for a phishing text message, immediately change your password if you clicked on a link and entered any sort of information, contact your bank, and file a police report if you notice you’ve lost money.

Mobile payment app scams using payment apps such as Cash App, PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle are growing more and more prevalent as those platforms become increasingly popular.

  • Be wary of texts or calls about payment apps. Payment app scams often start with a phone call or text. If you get an unexpected call, just hang up. If you get an unexpected text, delete it. Even when they seem legitimate, you should always verify by calling your bank or payment app’s customer service number.
  • Use payment apps to pay friends and family only. Don’t send money to someone you don’t know or have never met in person. These payment apps are just like handing cash to someone.
  • Raise the alarm on urgent payment requests. As mentioned in the previous sections, scammers rely on creating a sense of urgency to get you to act without thinking. They might claim your account is in danger of being closed or threaten you with legal action. These high-pressure tactics are red flags of a scam – a real bank would never use them.
  • Avoid unusual payment methods. Banks will never ask you to pay bills using a payment app or ask you to send money to yourself. Scammers can “spoof” email addressed and phone numbers on caller ID to look like they’re from your bank, even when they’re not. When in doubt, reach out to your bank directly by calling the number on the back of your card. If you get scammed on a payment app, notify the payment app platform, and ask them to reverse the charge, report the fraud to your credit card company or bank if you’ve linked the app to your bank cards, and file a police report. Familiarizing yourself with the types of scams that take place out there, and the steps you need to take if you find yourself in any of the above situations, will better equip you with the knowledge you need to protect your identity and money from those that are trying to steal it.

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