Scammers are finding new and sophisticated ways to trick people into giving their banking information. Read on about online banking security and learn ways to keep your account safe.
How secure is online banking?
Online banking has become an increasingly popular way for people to manage their finances. With this shift towards digital banking comes concerns about the security of our bank accounts. It’s understandable to be wary of cyber threats, but the good news is that banks have implemented measures to ensure the safety of online transactions.
From two-factor authentication to encryption, banks work tirelessly to ensure that your private information is confidential and secure. Your bank can have all the right pieces in place, but it’s up to you to make sure that you utilize online banking security features and avoid falling for scams that allow bad actors to gain access to your online accounts.
What type of bank scams should I look out for?
As we move toward an increasingly digital world, we rely more on online banking to manage our finances. With this convenience, however, comes the risk of bank scams that can leave us vulnerable to losing our hard-earned money.
It’s important to be aware of the different types of scams that exist, such as phishing texts or emails and fake websites. Here are some common scams to look out for:
Email has been around for a while, and scammers have had a lot of time to hone their skills creating phishing emails that seem legitimate. Criminals use phishing emails to trick you into giving them private information like your social security number, account number, and online banking password.
Here are some tips to stay safe from email scams:
- Avoid clicking suspicious links: Beware of suspicious or unsolicited emails that urge you to click on a link to verify your login details or make a payment. This is a common scam tactic, and banks will never ask you to do this. Hover over links to see the actual destination before taking any action. If you’re unsure, contact your bank directly or manually type their website address into your browser.
- Look out for scare tactics: Emails that use threats and high-pressure language are meant to get you to act quickly. Banks never use this kind of language. No matter how authentic an email appears, never reply or click on a link that asks for your personal information like a password, PIN, or social security number.
- Watch for typos: Misspellings and poor grammar are common warning signs of a phishing scam.
- Be skeptical: Scammers have gotten really good at creating emails with official-looking logos, language, and even URLs. Treat all incoming email as a potential risk and stay alert for scams. Treat emails that appear to be from a government agency with caution. These agencies will never send important information by email. It will almost always be sent by traditional mail.
Text Message Scams
Text message scams are gaining popularity because scammers know that people are more responsive and prompt when it comes to text messages. Despite being relatively new, these scams can be just as harmful as email scams.
Remember these tips when you receive an unexpected text message:
- Think before you act: Scammers want you to feel rushed. Acting quickly when you receive a phishing text message can lead to criminals gaining access to your bank account. Banks will never use high-pressure tactics or threats to get you to respond.
- Beware of links: Never click on a link in a text message if it asks you to sign into your bank account or provide sensitive information. When in doubt log into digital banking from the link on your bank’s website.
- Don’t share personal information: Banks never use text messages to request your PIN, password, social security number, one-time login codes, or other sensitive information. If a message is asking for this type of information, it’s likely a scam.
- Delete it: To safeguard against potential risks, delete any messages that appear suspicious and report them as junk. If you choose to report the message to law enforcement or the FTC, remember to capture a screenshot of the message along with the originating number. By deleting the message, you eliminate the possibility of inadvertently responding to or clicking on any embedded links.
Phone call scams
As with text messages, scammers rely on phone call scams to catch you when you have your guard down. And they can be really convincing because your bank may actually call you about your account and any suspicious activities that they find.
Follow these tips when you receive an unexpected call:
- Don’t rely on caller ID: Scammers have found ways to display any name or number they’d like on your caller ID. Be on the defensive when you receive unexpected calls.
- Never share sensitive information: Even if the caller says they are from your bank, don’t share passwords, PINs, one-time login codes, or any other sensitive information with someone who calls you. Your bank may need to verify your identity using personal information if you call them, but they will not request it when they call you.
- Don’t react to a false sense of urgency: Banks will never use threats or high-pressure tactics with you. If someone is urging you to take action quickly, don’t give into the pressure.
- Hang up or delay answering: If you have any doubt about whether the call is legitimate, either hang up or delay answering any questions. Then call your bank using the number on the back of your card or on their website. Never use the phone number provided by the caller.
Mobile payment app scams
Scammers make phone calls or send texts urging you to send funds through payment apps, like Venmo or tools within your digital banking account. These apps can be used for scammers to very quickly gain access to your money or even unauthorized access to your payment app account.
Keep these tips in mind when you receive messages or calls about mobile payments:
- Only use payment apps to pay people you know: If you wouldn’t hand cash to someone you don’t know and trust, don’t send payments through an app.
- Think before you act: Just like with other scam methods, criminals rely on a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly. Threats of account closure or legal action should be a red flag. When in doubt, contact your bank or payment app customer service to verify the claim.
- If it seems unusual, it’s likely a scam: Be wary of requests from your bank to pay a bill using a payment app. Banks will never ask you to do this. Even if the email address or phone number looks like it’s from your bank, contact your bank directly by calling the number on the back of your card or on their website.
What steps can I take to secure my accounts and cards?
Watching and listening for red flags is just one step to keeping your accounts and cards secure. Getting information directly from you is only one way for scammers to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure your accounts stay secure:
- Give your passwords a boost: For a strong password, start by using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The longer the password, the better. Avoid using common words or phrases that a hacker could easily guess. Instead, try using a combination of random words that you can remember but don’t make too much sense together. Additionally, try not to use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Set up multi-factor authentication on your bank and email logins: Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security process that requires you to provide more than one form of identification to gain access to an account or system. One example of MFA would be entering a password and then entering a one-time-use code that was sent to your phone via text, phone call, or authentication app.
- Keep your browsers and devices updated: Always run the latest updates to make sure you have all available security patches and defenses, like virus protection and malware alerts.
- Set up alerts in your digital banking account: In many digital banking tools, like myHeritage from Heritage Bank, you can set alerts for when your password or email address is changed, when someone logs into your account, and more.
- Manage your debit cards: Turning off or freezing your debit card is another common feature of digital banking tools. In myHeritage, you can turn off your card when you suspect fraud or lose it, when you’re traveling, or whenever you’d like. You can even schedule days and times you’d like to turn your card off.
- Set up security questions: Contact your bank to set up online banking security questions that can be used when you call the bank. This will help ensure that no one who calls your bank pretending to be you can get access to your account and/or personal information.
It takes a team to keep your bank accounts secure. At Heritage Bank NA, we’re dedicated to being part of the team protecting your funds and your personal information. Stay tuned for more information on scams, fraud, and online banking security.