Outsmart the Scammers

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

We’ve all been there—on the receiving end of an email or text message from a stranger with an urgent plea for help, a plea that also involves sharing your bank account or login information.

 This scam and others like it are among the many ways that fraudsters try to separate us from our money. But knowledge is power. It’s important to take time to arm yourself with information to keep these sorts of incidents from happening to you.

The nature of our high-tech world means everyone is vulnerable to fraud, experts say. Across the country, consumers reported losing $2.6 billion to imposter scams in 2022, up from $2.4 billion in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Social media has given thieves additional avenues to do harm. In 2022, consumers lost up to $330 million specifically to text message scams, more than doubling what was reported in 2021, the FTC reports.

 One of the biggest current scams is check fraud. Fraudsters send you what appears to be a legitimate check for a large “refund,” which they instruct you to deposit. For various reasons that sound legitimate, they tell you the refund is an overpayment, and that you’ll need to refund them a portion of the check. They usually deliver all sorts of convincing reasons why this is the case. Days later, not only do you realize that the check you deposited was fraudulent, but that you’ve also unwittingly deducted money of your own from your account and transferred it to the scammer.  

How can you avoid scams like these?

  · Put your guard up.

If someone asks you for login information or bank account numbers, stop right there. Similarly, if they ask you to return a portion of an “overpayment,” or ask you to buy them gift cards, don’t do it. These are just a few of the ways scammers prey on unsuspecting consumers. They’re especially effective at convincing inexperienced young people and older individuals that they need help, and they often use emotional pleas that pull at our heartstrings. Don’t buy it. Hang up quickly or cease social media or email communications.

  · Check your bank account daily.

Scammers like to try low stakes hijinks to see if you’ll notice before they move on to something bolder. For example, they might move money from one of your bank accounts to another, or they might make low value fraudulent purchases before making larger ones. Log into your bank account every day and scroll your transactions to make sure they’re ones you recognize. Contact the bank immediately if something is amiss. Once fraudulent activity has occurred most financial service providers offer consumers a window of time to report it. Time constraints vary depending on the type of pursuit. The best rule of thumb is to review your accounts often, and report anything suspicious immediately.

  · Use BSF’s Card Controls feature to protect your BSF debit card.

 Debit cards are another portal into your bank account that needs to be protected. Use Bank of St. Francisville’s SecurLOCK Equip service, which allows you to control how, when and where your debit cards are used. Provided as an embedded feature called Card Controls within the free BSF Mobile smartphone app, enable this feature to control card activity, including location controls that even allow you to block international transactions. You can also set spending limits.

 It’s in our nature to think the best of others, but sometimes that generosity can get us in trouble. Take time to arm yourself with information to keep financial fraud from happening to you.

 To activate SecurLOCK protection while enjoying the convenience and security of mobile banking, install the BSF Mobile Banking app on your Apple or Android device. Click HERE to get started.

Further Reading