How To Keep Your Bank Accounts Safe from the Latest Fraud Trends
keeping-my-information-safe | Read Time: 4 minutes
By Phil DiAngelo | Published: February 2022
Instances of fraud have continued to rise in recent years, and it can often seem like scammers are able to stay one step ahead of their victims.
As new schemes continue to emerge, it is important for consumers and businesses to remain vigilant to protect their information and bank accounts.
Here are some recent fraud trends and tips to help protect yourself.
In recent months, the U.S. Postal Service has reported robberies of mail carriers, with thieves taking the keys to large mailboxes in order to steal checks and other items from the mail.
As a result, altered check claims, where thieves wash and change the amounts and payees listed on checks taken from the mail, have seen a significant increase. Criminals will then attempt to cash or deposit the altered checks, often using fake identification and fellow scammers who may resemble the account holder in order to get their payday.
To help prevent this, consumers should try to avoid sending checks through the mail when possible. If there is a need to send a check via the mail, you should drop the item directly at a U.S. Post Office and not leave them in large blue mailboxes or home mailboxes for pickup.
Utilizing digital banking channels can also help prevent fraud – and make your banking more convenient – by enabling you to closely monitor your accounts and set card controls, deposit checks directly through your mobile banking app, or even skip the need to write a check altogether through peer-to-peer payment platforms like Zelle®.
Vishing – phishing scams carried out via phone – have also risen through the years, with fraudsters calling and falsely representing an organization or individual. Some criminals are even able to “spoof” legitimate phone numbers for your financial institution or other businesses to give the appearance the call you receive is legitimate.
Your bank would not call you directly to ask you to confirm your account number, PIN, password or any other personal information, so if you receive a call along these lines, it is important to hang up immediately.
If you’re unsure if a call is a scam, err on the side of caution and contact the organization or individual in question using the phone number that is publicly listed or listed on the back of your debit and credit cards.
Sometimes love hurts, but it is far more painful if you’re one of the many consumers who fell victim to romance scams, which resulted in a record $547 million lost in 2021, according to an FTC report.
Romance scammers have taken advantage of the surge in use of online dating websites, apps and social media platforms in recent years. The fraudsters often try to move the conversation off the website or app used to connect before asking you to wire money or send gift cards.
It’s vital that you only send money to people you know well and avoid giving anyone access to your bank accounts.
What To Do if You’re a Victim of Fraud
Falling victim to fraudulent schemes can feel terrifying and overwhelming, but if you act quickly, you may be able to limit the damage. If you think you’re the victim of fraud:
- Contact your banks and credit card companies to freeze your accounts, place a stop payment on missing or stolen checks, report any instances of fraudulent charges, get new cards and account numbers.
- Stop using your computer or mobile device if it has been compromised and get it professionally wiped.
- Change usernames and passwords to all of your email, shopping, online banking and social networking accounts.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Contact the Social Security Administration if you suspect that your Social Security number has been compromised.
- File a police or identity theft report as well as a report with the Federal Trade Commission, which maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement for investigations.
While fraudulent schemes – both old and new – will never disappear, with the proper information and vigilance, you can decrease the likelihood of falling victim to scams. For more tips on protecting yourself, visit our Knowledge Center and Security pages.
About the Author – Phil DiAngelo
Phil DiAngelo is Vice President, Director of Operational Risk at WSFS Bank. He has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry and is responsible for electronic fraud monitoring and physical security.
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