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By Chris Bailey
Chris is the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Operating Officer at First Bank. He manages the integrity of our systems, directs technology investments and supervises the IT department. Chris is a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a B.S. in Computer Science and has held the Independent Community Bankers Association Certified Community Bank Technology Officer Certification since 2008. He is motivated by moving projects forward and helping find solutions that keep businesses secure.
In today's increasingly connected world, it has become more important than ever to be vigilant in protecting ourselves from fraud and scams. Whether you're a small business owner, a farmer, or an individual seeking personal banking solutions, being aware of common scams and taking proactive steps to safeguard your information is crucial. In this informative blog, we will explore various types of fraud and scams, and provide practical tips and tricks to help you defend against potential fraudsters, both online and offline. By understanding and implementing these strategies, you can ensure your finances and personal information remain secure. So, let's dive right into understanding common types of scams and how to avoid them.
Phone scams are a prevalent type of fraud that often involve imposters pretending to be from reputable organizations, such as banks or government agencies, to obtain your personal information.
Email phishing scams, on the other hand, are deceptive emails designed to trick recipients into clicking on harmful links or providing sensitive information.
Social media scams can come in various forms, such as fake friend requests, fraudulent giveaways or malicious links disguised as interesting content.
Investment scams may appear as too-good-to-be-true opportunities promising high returns with low risk, often promoted by persuasive salespeople.
Lastly, identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud or other illegal activities in your name.
Phone scams are a common method used by fraudsters to obtain personal information or convince individuals to send money. To protect yourself from phone scams, it's essential to verify the caller's identity. If you're unsure of the caller's legitimacy, ask for the caller's name and company, as well as a callback number, then research the information provided before returning the call.
Hanging up on suspicious calls is a simple yet effective way to avoid falling victim to phone scams. If you feel pressured or uncomfortable during a conversation, it's best to end the call immediately. Remember to never give out personal information over the phone, such as your Social Security number, bank account details, or credit card numbers, as this can lead to identity theft or unauthorized transactions.
To effectively safeguard against email phishing scams, it's essential to recognize the common signs of these fraudulent messages. These may include poor grammar, a sense of urgency or suspicious sender addresses that don't match the company they claim to represent. Avoid clicking on any links or downloading attachments from unknown sources, as they may contain malicious software. Instead, hover your cursor over the link to check its destination before clicking, and verify the legitimacy of the website or sender through independent means.
To maintain your safety on social media, it's essential to adjust your privacy settings on each platform. This helps control who can view your personal information and reduces the risk of scams targeting you. Be cautious when accepting friend requests, especially from unknown individuals, as scammers often use fake profiles to gain access to your information.
Always verify the legitimacy of links and offers shared on social media before clicking on them, as scammers frequently use these tactics to steal your personal data or spread malware. If you encounter a scam or suspicious profile, report it to the social media platform to help protect yourself and others from potential harm.
Investment scams have become increasingly prevalent, targeting individuals and businesses with the promise of high returns and low risk. To recognize and avoid falling prey to such scams, thorough research is vital. Investigate the background of the investment opportunity, including its track record, and assess the risks involved.
Verify the legitimacy of the company offering the investment by checking their registration with regulatory bodies and confirming their credentials. Be cautious of high-pressure sales tactics, as legitimate investment firms typically do not resort to aggressive persuasion. If you suspect you've encountered an investment scam, report it to the appropriate authorities to help protect others from potential fraud.
Monitoring your credit reports is an essential step in preventing identity theft. Regularly reviewing your reports will help you identify any suspicious activity or inaccuracies that might indicate fraudulent activity. You can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com.
Securing your personal documents is also crucial in protecting your identity. Keep sensitive documents such as your Social Security card, passport, and financial records in a safe place, preferably in a locked file cabinet or safe. Shred any documents containing personal information before disposing of them to prevent thieves from obtaining your details.
Using strong, unique passwords for your online accounts is another effective way to prevent identity theft. Create complex passwords combining upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Consider using a reputable password manager to help you securely store and manage your passwords. Also enable two-factor authentication whenever available. This involves using SMS message or an authenticator app as an extra layer of protection.
First Bank business clients have access to numerous resources that can help protect against fraud and scams, like Positive Pay and ACH Block & Filter. By taking advantage of these solutions, you can enhance your financial security and keep your information safe. One of the key resources available to all clients is First Bank online and mobile banking security features. These platforms use advanced encryption and authentication technologies to keep your information secure and prevent unauthorized access to your accounts.
Additionally, First Bank provides Mastercard ID Theft Protection at no extra cost to business debit cardholders which helps to detect and resolve identity theft, as well as Card Management to set debit card activity notifications, lock and unlock your card and more. Tools such as these can help you identify potential fraud early and take the necessary steps to address the issue as quickly as possible.
For further guidance on avoiding fraud and scams, visit First Bank's website, which offers valuable tips on how to protect yourself both online and offline, including this video tutorial on ways to use online and mobile banking securely and effectively. All this information can help you recognize potential threats and understand the best practices for safeguarding your personal and financial information.
Fraud and scams are a real threat so it's important to remain vigilant in protecting our businesses, ourselves, and our information. By understanding common types of fraud, being aware of the warning signs, and utilizing the resources available to you like many from the Federal Trade Commission, you can stay one step ahead of potential fraudsters and safeguard your finances.
First Bank is committed to helping our clients across Illinois and Indiana safeguard their business and personal finances. As always, our team is available to assist you with concerns regarding potential fraud or scams. For more information on how to protect yourself from fraudsters and to learn about our wide range of business, farm and personal banking solutions, contact us today. Together, let's take a stand against scams and secure our financial futures.
Your security and privacy matters at First Bank. Before you send us an email, please be sure that you are not sending confidential or personal information – like your account number or social security number. If you need to share this type of information with us, please call us at 1-800-538-3979.