Scammers and fraudsters are prepared for tax season. Using sophisticated technology and convincing phishing techniques, these fraudsters are out to steal money or account credentials from unsuspecting users. Stay safe by knowing what to look for.
Fake reimbursement scams - A scammer "accidentally" sends you money via a payment app — then requests you send it back
Imposter scams - Grandparent scams and romance scams — fraudsters requesting that victims pay via a payment app
Con artist scams - A scammer borrows your phone for emergency to make financial transfers using your payment apps
Phishing scams - From fake websites to spoofed phone numbers and email addresses, phishing scams are designed to impersonate businesses and people you’re familiar with, fishing for private information such as bank account numbers, passwords, or social security numbers. Learn more about phishing scams
How to stay safe
Hang up on unsolicited requests for account or personal information - Phishing is when a scammer impersonates your bank or other familiar company, sending unsolicited text messages, emails, or phone calls to request or demand your personal or account information. Learn how to spot a phishing scam and stay safe
Enable multi-factor authentication and account notifications - Whenever possible, use multi-factor authentication to keep your account as secure as possible. This extra layer of protection is a difficult hurdle for hackers. For even more protection, make sure to enable account notifications and alerts for everything from sign-on attempts to transaction notifications.
Start small before sending a large sum of money - When sending a large amount of money using any P2P payment service, such as Zelle® or Venmo, it's always a good idea to send a smaller amount of money as a test, before sending the full amount.
Keep your app up to date with the most recent security updates - App updates and OS (operating system) updates are designed to keep you and your device safe from hackers. Make sure your device is fully protected by keeping your software up to date.
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Best practices when using P2P payment apps
For consumers, peer-to-peer (P2P) payment methods like Zelle® or Venmo can be a convenient way to transfer money to family and friends. But did you know that these types of payments can also be susceptible to fraud? Awareness of scammers’ methods and some general ground rules for using P2P payments wisely will help you avoid becoming a victim of P2P fraud.
What to look out for:
There are 4 main types of scams to be on the lookout for when utilizing P2P payments:
Social engineering - when a scammer uses manipulative tactics to get you to divulge personal information or login credentials.
Stolen identity scam - when a criminal uses your personal information to set up a P2P account in your name to make fraudulent transactions.
Consumer scam - when a seller requests payment through the app, but then never sends the product or provides the service.
Unknown links & unrecognized text messages - that require you to enter P2P credentials are also important to be on the lookout for as they can lead to your account being compromised.
Six simples ways to avoid fraud on P2P apps:
Never share any personal information or your P2P login information with anyone.
Enable security alerts and features like multi-factor authentication or biometric login (fingerprint or facial recognition) on your P2P account and phone.
Monitor your P2P account and bank account activity regularly and enable alerts for any suspicious activity. You can do this in online banking.
Only make P2P payments withpeople that you know and trust, such as friends and family. This means you should only send money to people you’ve personally shared user ID and information with.
Always create a strong and unique password for your P2P account, and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
Make sure to keep your app up to date by downloading the most recent software updates.
Current Scams and Fraud Attempts
Phishing emails and text messages may look like they’re from a company you know or trust. They may look like they’re from a bank, a credit card company, a social networking site, an online payment website or app, or an online store.
Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
say you must confirm some personal information
include a fake invoice
want you to click on a link to make a payment
say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
Ask Yourself: If you get an email or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, answer this question: Do I have an account with the company or know the person that contacted me?
If the answer is “No,” it could be a phishing scam. Visit our blog post on "How to recognize a phishing scam" to learn the commons signs of a phishing scam. If you see a phishing attempt, report the message and then delete it.
If the answer is “Yes,” contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Do not use the information in the email or text message. Attachments and links can install harmful malware.
The Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has received multiple reports that individuals claiming to represent the Department of Justice are calling members of the public as part of an imposter scam.
Reports to the National Elder Fraud Hotline indicate these scammers falsely represent themselves as Department of Justice investigators or employees and attempt to obtain personal information from the call recipient, or they leave a voicemail with a return phone number.
The return phone number directs users to a recorded menu that matches the recorded menu for the department’s main phone number. Eventually, the user reaches an “operator” who steers the user to someone claiming to be an investigator. That “investigator” then attempts to gain the user’s personal information.
The department (DOJ) strongly encourages the public to remain vigilant and not to provide personal information during these calls, which appear to target the elderly.
Source: United States Office for Victims of Crime (OJP) (OVC.gov)
SBA Alert: The U. S. Small Business Administration Warns Loan Applicants to Beware of Email Phishing Scams
⚠ If you applied for, or received either the SBA PPP or EIDL loan please take note:
Email phishing campaigns where malicious actors are impersonating the SBA and its Office of Disaster Assistance to collect personally identifiable information (PII) for fraudulent purposes have surfaced
Borrowers who are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for PII are cautioned to ensure that any application numbers referenced in the email are consistent with their actual application number. Loan applicants and borrowers are also advised not to click on any links or open any attachments, which are often used in phishing email scams.
Additionally, federal agencies that provide disaster recovery assistance will never ask for a fee or payment to apply for financial assistance, and government employees do not charge for any recovery assistance provided.
An SBA logo on a web page does not guarantee the information is either accurate or endorsed by the SBA. Loan applicants and borrowers should be vigilant in protecting their personal information and data assets. Visit https://www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert to learn more about scams and fraud schemes.
If you suspect an email is associated with a fraud scam targeting the SBA, report it to the Office of Inspector General’s Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online at https://www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert.
Mortgage Protection Insurance
1st Security Bank is aware of fraud attempts disguised as an offer for Mortgage Protection Insurance or similar. DISCARD any solicitations for these services! 1st Security Bank is not affiliated with any mortgage insurance companies.
Be alert to “investment opportunities”
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. Learn more from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Awareness and Education
Keep a close eye on your financial accounts.
Make a habit of regularly checking your banking and credit card accounts for fraudulent purchases or suspicious activity. Even a small transaction that you don't recognize could be a warning sign of a larger fraud scheme.
Check your free annual credit reports from the 3 major credit reporting agencies.
By law, Equifax, Experian PLC, and TransUnion are required to provide one free copy of your credit report every 12 months. You can order your free credit reports online from the authorized website annualcreditreport.com, or by calling (800) 322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.
The FTC and other government agencies and consumer protection groups provide up-to-date information regarding current scams, fraud attempts, and related schemes and are a great resource to educate yourself to stay one step ahead.
Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.
Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.
Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
If you spot a scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring crooks to justice.