How to Protect Yourself Against Cybercrime and Scammers

Cybercrime and Scammers


How to Protect Yourself Against Cybercrime and Scammers

Cybercrime is an ongoing threat in our digital world, and it continues to evolve with new threats all the time. The FBI reported that $6.9 billion was lost through internet crimes in 2021, with 847,376 separate complaints, a 7% increase from 2020.

Scammers will pretend to be other people or reputable organizations, sometimes in very convincing ways. It is a good idea to know how to recognize cybercrime to protect yourself and your personal information. Here is what you should know about the major types of scams.

Person-to-Person Scams

Person-to-person scams are online versions of scams that have existed for a long time, all with the same goal of trying to get money or information from innocent people. Examples of these can include suspicious emails from people claiming to be royalty from another country, phone calls trying to convince you a loved one is in jail, or fake companies trying to extort money from you. These types of scams can be extremely dangerous, because our immediate human instinct is to want to help, especially if it seems someone we are close with is involved or in danger. However, trying to get your money back will be extremely difficult if you willingly transfer it over, as scammers are quick to convert the funds to other forms that are untraceable like gift cards.

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams consist of an email that targets consumers in an attempt to make them provide their personal information in response. This allows the scammer to gain access to bank accounts, social media profiles, etc. The reason phishing scams are so dangerous is because they impersonate well-known and trusted sources for many people, such as internet service providers, banks, mortgage companies, healthcare providers, and more, making the decision to send information more convincing.

Phishing scams can be identified in a few key ways. Oftentimes, even though the email may look like it is coming from a genuine source, there may be obvious spelling mistakes in the body of the email. Additionally, the request in the email will sound odd or suspicious, for example, “There has been a mysterious charge on your account. Please provide your social security number and account number for our team to investigate.” If you are ever in doubt about whether you are being phished, ask yourself, “Why would this organization or person need my information?” Banks, mortgage companies, and other organizations will already have all the relevant information they need from you, so asking for these details through email is often a big red flag. Luckily, major email services like Gmail and Outlook are designed to warn users against potential phishing scams with pop-up messages appearing when the email is opened.

What To Do When You Think You Are Being Scammed

Here are some things to think about or ask yourself when faced with one of these potential scams:

  • Do I know the person calling me?
  • Is the information they are telling me believable?
  • Never trust anyone you don’t know with your personal information.
  • Always make sure to verify information if what they are saying seems like it could be true (calling a relative to see if they had been detained, calling banks about odd charges, etc.).
  • Trust your gut reaction.
  • Hang up and call the person back at a number you know is legitimate.

How To Protect Yourself From Scams

Here are some things to consider and watch out for to help avoid phishing scams:

  • Never provide any personal information over the phone, email, or text if you did not contact them first (such as your social security number, passwords, birthday, one-time passcode, account numbers, etc.)

  • Never respond to emails you feel seem suspicious.

  • Never click on links in suspicious emails.

  • Check the email address of the sender against the organization it is pretending to be.

  • Phishing emails will have slightly different spellings or additional characters in the sending address, making it easier to identify.

If you are concerned about a charge on your account or a bill payment, call your bank directly using the phone number provided at the time of account opening or from the contact information on the bank’s website. Explain the situation to them and they will be able to help you determine the best steps to move forward.

If you feel like you have been a victim of a scam or phishing attack, your bank is your best resource and your first line of defense, and you should call them immediately.

How Banks Can Help Protect You

Banks care about their customers and take cybersecurity very seriously. Every bank has extensive measures set up to ensure customer safety. Tools like:

  • Positive Pay - allows business customers to protect themselves against fraudulent checks being presented on their accounts by matching key identifying information on checks received by the bank for payment against information on genuine checks issued by the business.
  • Fraud Notifications – notifies customers when a suspected fraudulent transaction has occurred and encourages you to check your transaction history or bank statements to determine if a recent charge was completed by you. If not, they will work with you to try to recover the funds while keeping your information secure.
  • Debit Card Controls - enables customers to establish transaction limits and switch their debit card “on” and “off” from an app on their phone.
  • Account Alerts – customers can customize when to be notified for certain transaction thresholds or account activity like when a check has cleared, or a withdrawal has been made.

At Katahdin Trust, we will NEVER call, text, or send emails asking you to provide sensitive banking information. Do not respond to any emails, texts or phone calls requesting identifying personal information like your social security number, bank account information, one-time passcode, or credit card numbers unless you initiated the call.

Learn more about the cybersecurity features we offer and see how we can help you control and stay on top of your financial security. You can also check out our Online Banking Security and Safety Tips. And, of course, if you have any questions about your account security, we’re always happy to help. We are only a call away, at 1-855-331-3221.

Katahdin Trust Company. Community Banking at its Best! Since 1918. Member FDIC.




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