How to Avoid Banking Scams and Stay Safe Online

Banking scams are more common than you think, especially lately. In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 2.1 million fraud reports. Criminals use these types of scams to trick people into giving up their bank account information.

Don’t panic just yet. There are many ways to protect yourself against banking scams and online fraud, and we’re here to help.

What are banking scams?

Banking scams are when fraudsters attempt to access your bank account to take your money or private information. The most common banking scams include:

  • Overpayment scams: When someone sends you a check, asks you to deposit it into your account, and wire part of the money back to them. The check is likely fake, so you’ll end up having to pay your bank the amount of the check, plus what you wired.
  • Unsolicited check fraud: When a scammer sends you an unexpected check, you cash it, and then you’re suddenly authorized for purchases or a loan you didn’t ask for.
  • Automatic withdrawals: When a fraudulent company sets up automatic withdrawals from your account to qualify for a free trial or prize.
  • Phishing: When you receive an email or text asking you to verify your bank account or card number.

How to protect yourself from banking scams

Now that we know what kinds of banking scams are out there, let’s talk about how to prevent them from happening to you. Here are our top tips to follow:

  • Be careful who you cash checks for. Never write a check for someone in exchange for cash, unless you know the person well.
  • Trust your instincts. If something feels off or is too good to be true, it likely is. Always read the fine print with any email or text you receive.
  • Don’t share your personal information. Scammers can easily hack into your account with the right information. Therefore, it’s important to avoid sharing account, Social Security, and credit card information with anyone – unless you know for certain it’s a legitimate request that you initiated with your financial institution.
  • Question unnecessary fees. If you’re sent a prize or job offer that requires an upfront fee, it’s a scam. The same goes for offers from unverified sources that require bank account information to redeem or claim them.
  • Be careful where you send money. This may seem obvious, but do not wire or send money to people or companies you don’t know.

What to do if you’re a victim of a bank scam

If you believe you’re a victim of a scam, contact your bank immediately to stop any unauthorized purchases or withdrawals from your account. You’ll need to report the scam to the proper authorities as well. Your financial institution should most likely offer a way you can file a complaint directly, or be able to provide you with the necessary steps to take. If you received any phishing emails, forward them to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov.

At First Financial, we are here to help protect our members from scams and identity theft. If you have any concerns or questions about any of your First Financial accounts, please call member services at 732.312.1500 or visit one of our branches.

 

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