Stay one step ahead of fraudsters and keep your online banking information safe!

When customers think of banking convenience, online banking is what immediately comes to mind. Unfortunately, with the tough economic times, cybercriminals and fraudsters are also growing more tech-savvy nowadays and this has led to the rise of scams victimizing online banking customers.

As with all types of frauds, the best way bank customers can counter this is to be fully aware of the possible dangers that lurk in cyberspace and remain vigilant.

Here are 5 of the  most common online scams that consumers should be aware of:

  • Phishing – Phishing is perhaps the oldest form of identity theft where scammers send out an authentic-looking email that appears to come from the victim’s bank, requesting someone update their account information for various official-sounding reasons. To avoid being conned into a phishing scam, never click on email links to access your online banking or account information.  Type the bank’s website directly into your browser’s address bar and access your online banking directly instead of via the link. When in doubt, call the bank to confirm if communication is legit! Oftentimes these emails will have misspellings or other telltale signs of being unofficial.
  • Stolen Passwords – Stealing, cracking, or guessing passwords is another method widely used by hackers to gain access to bank accounts or financial transactions. Studies have shown with the latest technology, hackers can make one billion password guesses in one second! The best prevention bank customers have against these attacks is to use more secure passwords. Longer passwords are usually harder to crack, as are passwords that are composed of letters, numbers, and special characters. And if your passwords are complex enough that you cannot commit them to memory, document them and store them in a secure location. And even better – enable two-factor authentication – this adds an additional layer of security to just using a password.
  • Worm or Virus Attacks – We have probably all had that friend on Facebook or Instagram who sends a video that you “must-see!” You click the link to view – suddenly your computer freezes, and you are informed that your video software needs upgrading.  Once you click to “upgrade”, you’re not getting the updated software, you’re getting Malware or a Trojan Horse.  Once these programs/viruses enter your computer, your data can be copied and sent to hackers.  There are even more advanced types of Trojans that can make fraudulent transfers while you are logged into online banking.  Your best protection is to be wary of clicking on share links on social media sites and invest in effective anti-virus software to catch anything that might get past you.
  • Malicious Software (Malware) on Public Computers – Cybercriminals have also mastered the art of preying on individuals using public computers. They target hotels, airports, internet cafes, and other business centers where people go to access the web. They start their fraudulent schemes by installing keylogging software on the computers which records the keystrokes entered on the keyboard. As soon as someone accesses an online banking site through these PCs, the account data, such as username or password, will be stored by the previously installed malicious software and sent right to the scammer. It is advisable to not access your online bank accounts when using computers in public places.
  • Targeting Wireless Networks – While using a public wireless network can prove to be very convenient and mobile access to the internet, it is also very vulnerable to fraudsters’ hacking. Take extra precautions when using wireless networks – especially outside of your home or office. Unless you’re doing some harmless web browsing, it might be best to stay off of public wireless networks altogether.

While this all probably sounds very dark and foreboding, there ARE some simple ways to safeguard your banking information and make sure that you stay as risk-free as possible:

  • Stay up to date on your monthly statements – Keeping up with your account activity and carefully reviewing your statements each month serves two important purposes. First, if you know how much money is in your account at all times, you won’t spend or withdraw past your limit. Second, you should review your statement to ensure all the charges, debits, payments, and withdrawals taken from your account are transactions you authorized. If you discover a transaction that looks out of place, get in touch with your bank as soon as possible.
  • Keep your account information as private as possible – You would never hand a stranger your account number and routing information, so be sure to only give that information to businesses you trust. If you are paying via check, make sure you only conduct a transaction with a familiar company or that, in the case of an unfamiliar business, you were the one who initiated the transaction. Do not reply to any solicitation with your account number and routing information: It’s an easy way to fall victim to check fraud.
  • Stay in touch with your bank – At the first sign of check fraud or issues with your checking account, contacting your bank should be your first step. The longer you wait before calling or visiting your bank, the longer (and more difficult) it may take to resolve the problem. Be sure to hold onto copies of any documents involved in the suspicious activity. If your account has been defrauded, you may also need to contact the authorities to file a report.