Content sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Your phone pings. It looks like a text message from your bank, and it’s urgent.
It says you need to send money to your account using a wire transfer or digital payment like Zelle® to reverse a fraudulent transaction. Or, it tells you there’s suspicious activity on your account, and you need to call a certain number right away to address it.
If the message is from your bank, it must be legitimate, right?
Impersonating a financial institution, a government agency or a utility company is a common scam tactic to get access to your accounts or personal information. Even the most cautious consumers can fall victim, as scammers become increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to commit digital fraud.
Knowing about scammers’ tricks can help you stay one step ahead of them. Here are some common schemes you might see.
Scammers can “spoof” phone numbers. Your caller ID can say the call or text is from your bank even though it’s not. The scammer will eventually ask for personal or financial information, or ask you to send money.
“Phishing” is when you get an email that looks reputable but asks you to call a fraudulent number, respond to the email or go to a website and enter personal information. You may be asked to look at an attachment, which then gives bad actors access to your computer if you open it.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) or “deep fakes”
Smart technology allows scammers to duplicate familiar voices and trick consumers out of money and personal information. Scammers gain the trust of victims by pretending to be a close family member or friend in need.
Scammers can steal written checks from unattended mailboxes, or if you deposit them but don’t dispose of them properly. They’ll use chemicals to erase and rewrite the checks to themselves, sell your personal info or use it to create counterfeit checks.
Scammers place fake phone numbers in search engines and online ads under the names of legitimate companies like banks or airlines. People call those numbers and are tricked into sharing account or other personal information.
How to stay safe
Be proactive and avoid becoming a victim by following these tips.
- Delete, block and ignore calls or messages from sources you don’t recognize.
- Protect your personal account information, ATM pins, passwords and one-time passcodes. If someone contacts you and asks for this information, especially if it’s someone claiming to be from your bank, do not share it with them.
- Banks or government agencies will never ask for personal information when they contact you. Government agencies also will not contact you via phone; you’ll likely receive a notice by mail. Refuse to give your personal information if someone contacts you by email, text or phone.
- Don’t let anyone pressure or threaten you into giving them personal information or money. Hang up or don’t respond.
- If anyone says you must act right now, stop and ask yourself, “Is this how a legitimate company would act?” If something seems “off,” it probably is.
- Remember that financial institutions will never ask you to send money to yourself or anyone else.
- Don’t send money to someone you don’t know or for reasons you are not clear: you may not get it back.
- Even if your caller ID says a call or text is from your bank, it could be a scam. When in doubt hang up or stop texting, and call your bank directly (use the number on the back of your debit card).
- Don’t click on links or attachments in an email or text if you’re not sure who it’s from, and be on the lookout for messages that ask for immediate action from you.
- Instead of entering a company name in your internet browser’s search bar, type the full URL in the address bar (for example, www.chase.com) so you’ll go directly to your bank’s secure, verified website.
- To avoid check fraud, consider sending money electronically or using your card.
- If you’re writing a check, use a permanent pen so the information is hard to erase. Fill out the payee and dollar amount space completely or draw a line to the end of the space. Sign checks the same way every time and mail checks from inside the post office.
If you become a victim of online fraud, don’t be embarrassed, and report it to your bank. Also, tell family and friends about your experience so they too can be on high alert.
Scammers may try hard, but consumers who are alert and informed can stop them in their tracks.
For more fraud and scam prevention tips, visit Chase.com/SecurityTips, www.ftc.gov, and on social media follow the tag“#banksneveraskthat” for more information.