Utilizing password managers to store your passwords can allow you to make unique, complex passwords for all of your accounts. Password managers often have strength analysis tools that will help you build secure passwords that keep hackers out.
Types of scams to watch out for
One of the most popular and quickly expanding forms of fraud is mobile deposit fraud. This form of fraud is where a fraudster deposits a fake check via remote deposit (using a photo of a fake check) into your account. After that, there are several ways they can attack you.
First, they might ask you to return the funds to them and that the check was deposited to the wrong account. However, if you send them the funds on the fake check back, you will really be sending them that amount from your own bank account since the check will eventually bounce. The fraudster may try to promise you some form of employment and will ask you to use the check to send funds to a third party to get you started. This is a key sign that someone is trying to scam you.
To defend yourself against mobile deposit fraud, follow these key tips:
- Never blindly send funds to a party or institution that you don’t recognize, even if they recently deposited a check to your account.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If someone tells you that you won something, but you must send payment to receive your prize, you can be certain that it’s a potential scam attempt.
- Contact your financial institution if you notice a check from a strange source was unexpectedly deposited into your account. Especially if they ask you to use that check to send money somewhere else. This is a tell-tale sign of mobile deposit fraud.
In a Fake Check Scam fraudsters utilize a sophisticated fake paper check to help them access your funds. These scammers may try to convince you this check is an advance on an employment opportunity or tell you that the money is the first installment of future millions to come if you wire funds to them.
Here are ways you can stay protected from Fake Check Scams:
- Never send payments to someone you don’t know, even if that source recently mailed you a check.
- Never accept an unexpected check from an unknown source
- Avoid sweepstakes from unreliable sources and never “pay-to-play” by sending money somewhere to claim your prize.
A current scam that’s rapidly growing in popularity is the Gift Card Scam. Victims of gift card scams are encouraged to buy a gift card for a variety of reasons and then send the card numbers and PINs to the scammers. Often, the fraudster will contact you via social media, email, or text and convey a sense of urgency to try to rush you into making a poor decision.
Remember, gift cards are to be used for gifts, nothing else. If someone is trying to get you to buy a gift card and then send them the information, it should be reported as a fraud attempt. It’s always best to be overly cautious when someone asks you to buy a gift card even if they seem like they’re a reliable source or it’s someone you know. Odds are a scammer is pretending to be someone they’re not.
Tips to Protect Yourself Against Gift Card Scams:
- Do not buy gift cards for someone you don’t know.
- Block unknown users on social media who contact you asking you to buy gift cards or send them gift card information
- Practice extreme caution if someone reaches out and asks you to buy a gift card on their behalf.
A Sweetheart Scam is a fraud attempt that utilizes social networks and other online platforms to help fraudsters pretend to be someone they’re not. Once they connect with their target, whether it be social media, a dating app, or another virtual space, the scammers work to build a seemingly-real relationship. They swear it’s true love and will do anything to make you believe that the relationship is authentic. Then, they’ll ask you to send them money. It’s common for them to make the situation sound urgent so that you will fall into their trap.
To avoid a sweetheart scam, practice caution when communicating with any new connection online. If they refuse to ever meet you in person, or have an online profile that was only created a few months ago, you should be wary of a scam. Ask family and friends for help when trying to determine if a person online is actually who they claim to be. If there is any bit of doubt, it’s wise to stop communication with the person immediately.
Tips to protect yourself from scams and fraud
Protecting yourself from cyber scams and fraud attempts is essential when it comes to keeping your banking and personal information secure. Here are some tips that can help ensure that you are protected from common cybersecurity threats.
Protecting your accounts with unique and complex password is Rule #1 when it comes to cybersecurity. Avoiced reusing the same password for different accounts, or using simple-to-guess phrases like “Password123!”.
Effective passwords combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters to help you stay protected against security threats.
Beware of Phishing Schemes
“Phishing” is a threat where scam artists and fraudsters try to fool you into providing sensitive information (SSN, debit/credit card information, account numbers, etc.) via email, text message, or phone calls.
If something seems off about a phone call, or the email sender’s address is misspelled, it’s most likely a phishing attempt.
Unknown senders, callers, and online connections pose a threat to your privacy and security. Always check the email sender’s address to ensure that it is a legitimate and avoid clicking on links that come from an unknown source.
While engaging in social media, dating apps, and other online platforms be especially careful if someone you don’t know suddenly messages you or if someone with a suspicious account repeatedly tries to add you as a friend.
Only engage with users you’re positive are legitimate and report suspicious activity as soon as you believe your cybersecurity is threatened.
Steer Clear of Public Wi-Fi
While public wi-fi can be convenient at times, it poses a variety of risks to your personal information, devices, and overall security. Cyber-scammers, hackers, and fraudsters all attempt to take advantage of public wi-fi.
Each time you connect to an insecure network you risk a hacker viewing all of your activity, poisoning your device with malware, and baiting you to use unsecured domains.
The best way to defend against the threats that public connection bring is to avoid them altogether.