Avoiding Phone Scams
We keep our phones on us now more than ever. Because of this, a growing trend is the amount of spam phone calls, text messages, and emails we’re prone to receive on a near daily basis. If you always answer your phone when it rings, rest assured you are not the only one. But these days, the chances that the caller on the other end of the line is actually a scammer are higher than ever before. It’s important to exercise caution so you can avoid deception and protect your information.
Phone Scams Breakdown
Phishing occurs primarily via email and happens when scammers act as someone else in order to trick you into sharing personal identifying information, such as your Social Security Number, financial account numbers, associated PIN numbers, and other sensitive information.
Vishing, or voice phishing, occurs when scammers call you on the phone to fish for the same or similar information. The scammers may pose as a government official, a credit card company, or even someone from your financial institution.
Smishing, phishing via SMS or text message, occurs when scammers use “spoofed” text messages and pose as your financial institution or a company or retailer you know and trust. These fake text messages will often offer you some type of prize if you respond or click on the included link.
Whether you receive a suspicious phone call, email, or text message, the scams are typically variations on the same theme. The scammer pretends to be someone you are familiar with in an attempt to trick you into sharing your personal information. Here are some common red flags to look out for so you can avoid falling victim to their scams:
- They urge you to act quickly. By creating a false sense of urgency, the scammers are counting on you not taking the time to stop and think if their requests are legitimate; instead they hope you immediately comply with whatever they are asking of you.
- They pretend to be someone you know and trust. The scammers may pose as your insurance agency stating they need to verify your information, or they claim to be from your financial institution and request you provide them with your identifying details or account information. Some scammers have become highly sophisticated in their attempts to impersonate financial institutions, e-commerce sites, or other services and businesses.
- They pretend to be someone to intimidate you. The scammers may pretend to be from a government agency and claim that there is a problem with your taxes, a warrant for your arrest, or a current lawsuit against you.
- They offer you a prize. They may offer a gift card, a cash prize, a free smartphone, or some other sort of prize and then they ask for personal information or tell you that you must pay for shipping or some other service fee.
How You Can Protect Yourself
The safety and security of our members is a top priority. We are committed to protecting you and your accounts. Keep these tips in mind so you can protect yourself from phone scams:
- The best defense against suspicious phone calls, emails, and text messages is to not engage. Hang up the phone call, don’t respond to the text or email, and delete the message.
- Never share your digital banking login credentials with anyone. Your username and password are unique to your specific account, so you should never give someone else access to your account, not even your family members or closest friends.
- Never click on links in a text message or email that appears suspicious or if you don’t know who it is from. Never confirm or provide personal information requested via email or text. Sensitive information such as account numbers, credit card information, Social Security Number, passwords, login information, etc. should never be provided via email or text.
- When you receive a Secure Access Code (SAC) from us, we will never call or text you to ask you to provide us with that code. If someone calls or texts you asking for a security code you received from us, hang up and do not provide the code.
- Don’t give in to pressure if someone is asking you for personal information over the phone. If you feel uncomfortable and aren’t sure if you should share your information, don’t. Never give out personal information on an unsolicited phone call.
- If you receive a call claiming to be from your credit union, bank, credit card issuer, or insurance company, find their phone number on your statement or on their website and call that number. By contacting them directly, you will be able to verify if that is really who called you, or if it was a potential scammer.
- Check to see if your device or your service provider offer a blocking feature that you can enable, which will allow you to block incoming calls from undesirable numbers. If your phone or provider don’t have this feature available to you, you can still manually block the phone numbers that you know are spam callers.
- Keep your guard up and your wits about you. Remember that the IRS or any other government agency will never ask you to make payments over the phone. They will also never ask for payment in the form of gift cards or wire transfers, or ask you for your debit or credit card information.
- If someone has contacted you pretending to be from Robins Financial Credit Union, or if you suspect your account information has been compromised, report it to us immediately at 478-923-3773.
- If you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft, report it to us at 478-923-3773. You may also file a report with your local police department, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Robins Financial Credit Union is committed to protecting the safety and security of our members. To find out more about how we protect our members every day, feel free to give us a call or stop by any of our branch locations.