Preventing Online Access Fraud

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Did you know that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 2.2 million fraud reports, totaling almost $3.3 billion dollars’ worth of lost funds, in 2020 alone? Don’t let this happen to you! The thieves and scammers never let up, so we must stay on our guard and continue to educate ourselves to keep our identities and hard-earned money safe.

As one of Call Federal’s specialists when it comes to identifying and preventing fraud, I want to share a deeper look at some of the scams we’re seeing with increased frequency and how you can best protect yourself from them.

The One Where They Trick You into Giving Them Access

If you’ve ever had wait for a passcode to be sent to you by text or email before gaining access to an online account or mobile app, you’ve experienced dual- or two-factor authentication (2FA). By sending this code to a previously registered device, there’s a reasonable expectation that it’s really you trying to log in.

As they often do, scammers have found a way around this now-standard security feature. They will pose as a legitimate business, like a major retailer or your trusted credit union, stating that they need to “verify” you and/or your account. Technology allows these fraudsters to appear on your Caller ID as any number they wish, including ones that you’re familiar with, like Call Federal’s primary number, 804-274-1200. They can also make any email look as if it was sent from our website or any other online sites you visit. These tactics are designed to make you let your guard down and believe you’re engaging with a business that you know. And that’s when they strike.

How this scam works

They reach out to you via a phone call, email, letter, or text message, asking for you to call a number or to respond back to the original message and ultimately provide a code. That code is really coming from the security associated with an online banking access, app, or email account – they are attempting to bypass the protection that 2FA provides. Once the fraudster has the code, they’re in. If they’ve gained access to your online banking platform, they can transfer money to themselves; if they get into your Amazon account, they can use your saved profile to make purchases, and so on.

Key Takeaways to Keep Your Accounts Safe

  • Real companies never “need your help” to issue or verify a refund. If you’ve done business with them, they have all the information they need.
  • Do not share private details via text message. Legitimate attempts to validate your activity only requires a simple (YES or NO) response.
  • Do not click on links in emails or hyperlinked phone numbers sent via SMS text.
  • Do not trust Caller ID. The technology to appear as anyone from anywhere is readily available.
  • When in doubt, call your bank or credit union- we’re here to help!

It’s Up to You

While we are working diligently to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters, the first line of defense against any scam is you! Educating yourself on what to look out for when confronted with these situations is the best protection you can have; as demonstrated, when scammers target someone, they only have part of the picture. The success of their scam relies on help from their victims. When in doubt, hang up and call the merchant or your financial institution directly to verify the request. Use a published phone number from a billing statement, the back of your card, or an official website – not the phone number listed in a mailing, email or text.

Finally, help us spread the word and spare others from these scams! Share this post with your friends and family, so they can protect themselves as well.

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