A global problem.
Fraudsters all over the world, are now targeting people where it hurts the most – in the soft belly of their bank accounts. With the world becoming more connected thanks to the Internet, online scams have dramatically increased. It is often up to you to stay informed and vigilant when it comes to dealing with other individuals on the Internet.
Banks do their part in providing the best security they can, and most offer free online tools to help you protect yourself against fraud. They post details of latest scams on their websites, and also warnings on online banking profiles.
A bank will never ask you to provide personal details over an open forum. Your bank already has your details. The basic rule is never to respond to a scam e-mail or phone call who ask you to do this, or to update your information – especially if nothing has changed!
You stand to lose every cent you have!
How bank scamming works.
It could be a scam if:
- If the message, which normally arrives by e-mail, SMS, letter or fax, sounds too good to be true, because it probably is!
- There is a threat that your account will be closed, or frozen, if you do not take immediate action.
- You are promised a huge loan at almost no interest which can be redeemed at any ATM in the world, just pay the upfront admin and handling fee.
- You are requested to give personal banking information via a link in an e-mail, which has a very quick deadline in which to reply.
- E-mail addresses of valid companies are just slightly modified, and domains are different such as .org instead of .com.
The types of frauds criminals use involving banks.
- Phishing scams. This a form of fraud, scammers use to get your personal information, by e-mail, or taking you to a false website. You will be told one or more of a number of things which may include: news that you have been a victim of fraud and must log in immediately, money has been received into your account, which needs to be confirmed, or you have received an IRS payment that needs to be confirmed without delay. The scammer would have an authentic looking bank letter-head, with all the details you might be familiar with. Check the origin of the e-mail, it will in no way be the same address as that of the bank.
- Vishing scams. This is similar to phishing, except that you will contacted by telephone, from someone who claims to be from the bank, and tries to get your bank details from you, right down to your password and pin.
- Smishing scams. This is a phishing scam by means of an SMS, which also purports to come from the bank. You are encouraged to divulge your personal information for one or another genuine sounding reason.
- Advance fee fraud, also known as 419 scams. In this fraud you are usually advised that you have inherited a fortune from a long-lost relative, who you actually have never heard of, and does not exist. It may also take the form of gigantic lotto winnings, and your details are needed for the deposit into your account. If you did not buy a ticket, you cannot be a winner!
- Another 419 scam. You could be asked, and offered a fat commission, to make your account available to safe-keep cash, usually from a foreign source. Bear in mind that the US Federal Treasury would institute a query if millions suddenly appeared in your account, so that is one commission promise that can never hold water. You will also be asked to pay an upfront fee for bank charges, exchange control fees etc.
- Fake payment confirmation. If you have a business selling goods online, beware the fake payment confirmation that comes from a bank, even with an authentic letter-head. Be vigilant of check payments which have not cleared. Transfers from other banks can take up to 48 hours to show in your account. Do not release any goods until the payment reflects in your account, or until the check has cleared.
- The refund scam. You actually see money in your account, which is usually a fake check that will bounce. You are notified that it is an incorrect payment into your account, which you must refund into an account detailed in the message. Do not take the bait. If there has been a mix-up, the bank is able to correct it without your help.
- Change of banking details. For those in business, this scam is like a plague. You may get a communication, which looks entirely official and genuine, from someone pretending to be a supplier, asking you to update your banking details to their database. Never do it! Beware, this scam can originate from within your company, especially if there is someone who wants to make a quick buck by providing a list of your suppliers to criminals
Some things to help you identify scam e-mails are simple typographical errors, spelling mistakes, and other signs that the e-mail was unprofessionally written.
How the banks protect you.
The banks work long and hard to protect clients’ information and money. Bank clients trust the bank with their money, and it is a responsibility that all banks take seriously. They make use of a variety of security tools and systems to keep your information and accounts safe.
Here are some of the ways banks use to protect you.
- Encrypting information. Many banks use 128-bit encryption codes to protect your personal information such as password, user name, and account details as it travels over the Internet. We will never ask you to send confidential information such as your SSN via unsecured mail.
- Verifying practices. Operations and business practices are reviewed on a regular basis to make sure they still comply with bank policies and procedures which have been created for your protection.
- Keeping up with scams. Most banks have specific people who are constantly on the lookout for new, or rehashed scams, doing the rounds. Customers are advised via the bank’s website, or the online banking platform, in detail about the scams. There is a place where you can acknowledge that you have read the message, before being allowed to continue with online banking.
- Free tools. Most of the banks offer free customized tools, plus useful information, which you can download, and use to help protect yourself. These tools can help you identify unauthorized activity or fraud in your accounts, and also misuse of the information by people or legitimate services you may have given some of your details to.
- Report fraud. You will also be advised how to immediately report fraud, or even if you suspect fraudulent attempts in your account. There could even be an instance where you may have accidentally divulged your details to someone. This must also be reported, in case there is an attempt at fraud.
Bear in mind that if you give your banking details away over the phone or in an e-mail, you are putting your money at risk. If you are taken to the cleaners, you may not be reimbursed by the bank.
Some tips to help you protect yourself.
- Beware of social media scams. Banks will never ask you to give your details on any social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc.
- Never click on any links in e-mails. You will be directed to a fake site which will request you to provide ALL your personal details, including ATM pin numbers.
- Do not respond to an SMS or phone call that tells you have won big in a competition because of your purchase of data or airtime. The scammer will ask that you verify your cell number and you ID. To receive the cash you will then be required to provide your card number and pin, so money can be deposited. If you have not entered a competition, you could not have won anything. So respond at your peril! You may lose thousands!
Don’t be fooled! Don’t share your personal details. The banks work tirelessly to protect you and your money. They appreciate and care about all their clients, big or small.
You can help them in their efforts by remaining ever-vigilant by taking care of your accounts, and immediately reporting any suspected fraudulent activity.
The sooner they know about it – the sooner they will be able to help you.