Identity Theft and Internet Scams



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Today’s technology allows us to connect around the world, to bank and shop online, and to control our televisions, homes, and cars from our smartphones. These activities require you to provide personally identifiable information (PII) such as your name, date of birth, account numbers, passwords, and location information. With the added convenience of these digital tools comes an increased risk of identity theft and Internet scams. #BeCyberSmart when sharing personal information online to reduce the risk of becoming a cybercrime victim.

DID YOU KNOW?

• The average cost of a data breach for a US company in 2019 was $8.19 million? That's an increase of 130% since 2006!

• 7-10% of the U.S. population are victims of identity fraud each year, and 21% of those experience multiple incidents of identity fraud.

• 45% of Americans have had their personal information compromised by a data breach in the last five years. 

• 70% of Americans feel that their personal information is less secure than it was five years ago, up from 49% just two years ago.

• 72% of Americans believe that most of what they’re doing while online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms and other companies.

• Over half of Americans (52%) say they have decided not to use a product or service because they were worried about how much personal information was being collected about them.

COMMON INTERNET SCAMS

As technology continues to evolve, cybercriminals will use more sophisticated techniques to exploit technology to steal your identity, personal information, and money. To protect yourself from online threats, you must know what to look for. Some of the most common Internet scams include:

COVID-19 Scams take the form of emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.

Imposter Scams occur when you receive an email or call from a person claiming to be a government official, family member, or friend requesting personal or financial information. For example, an imposter may contact you from the Social Security Administration informing you that your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended, in hopes you will reveal your SSN or pay to have it reactivated.

It is important to remember that the government will never charge a fee to receive your benefits, nor will they ask for personal information, like account numbers or passwords.

COVID-19 Economic Payments scams target Americans’ stimulus payments. CISA urges all Americans to be on the lookout for criminal fraud related to COVID-19 economic impact payments—particularly fraud using coronavirus lures to steal personal and financial information, as well as the economic impact payments themselves—and for adversaries seeking to disrupt payment efforts.

Bank Independent will never reach out to you to ask for personal details, including account numbers or passwords. If you are ever concerned that you are being scammed, we encourage you to reach out to our Customer Service team at 877-865-5050 or reach out to your local sales office.

SIMPLE TIPS

Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device, such as your smartphone, an authenticator app, or a secure token—a small physical device that can hook onto your key ring.

Shake Up Your Password Protocol. According to NIST guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts.

Be up to date. Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Maintain your security settings to keeping your information safe by turning on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it, and set your security software to run regular scans.

If You Connect IT, Protect IT. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, gaming device, or other network devices, the best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. Sign up for automatic updates, if you can, and protect your devices with anti-virus software. 

Play hard to get with strangers. Cyber criminals use phishing tactics, hoping to fool their victims. If you’re unsure who an email is from—even if the details appear accurate— or if the email looks “phishy,” do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. When available use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from a particular sender.

Never click and tell. Limit what information you post on social media—from personal addresses to where you like to grab coffee. What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all that criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings—online and in the real world. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address, birthday, and even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are—and where you aren’t—at any given time. 

Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected appliances, toys, and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved—gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and use the “rule of least privilege” to delete what you don’t need or no longer use. Learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.

Stay protected while connected. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot—such as at an airport, hotel, or café—be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good Internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passwords or credit cards. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Only use sites that begin with “https://” when online shopping or banking.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM ONLINE FRAUD

Stay Protected While Connected: The bottom line is that whenever you’re online, you’re vulnerable. If devices on your network are compromised for any reason, or if hackers break through an encrypted firewall, someone could be eavesdropping on you—even in your own home on encrypted Wi-Fi.

• Practice safe web surfing wherever you are by checking for the “green lock” or padlock icon in your browser bar—this signifies a secure connection.  Type website URLs directly into the address bar instead of clicking on links or cutting and pasting from the email.

• When you find yourself out in the great “wild Wi-Fi West,” avoid free Internet access with no encryption.  Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi.

RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU

If you discover that you have become a victim of cybercrime, immediately notify authorities to file a complaint. Keep and record all evidence of the incident and its suspected source. The list below outlines the government organizations that you can file a complaint with if you are a victim of cybercrime.

FTC.gov: The FTC’s free, one-stop resource, https://www.identitytheft.gov/can help you report and recover from identity theft. Report fraud to the FTC at ftc.gov/OnGuardOnline or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

US-CERT.gov: Report computer or network vulnerabilities to US-CERT via the hotline: 1-888-282-0870 or www.us-cert.gov. Forward phishing emails or websites to US-CERT at phishing-report@us-cert.gov.

IC3.gov: If you are a victim of online crime, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://www.IC3.gov.

SSA.gov: If you believe someone is using your SSN, contact the Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

Fore more information about how you can Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart, visit: www.cisa.gov/ncsam.

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Bank Independent does not endorse, nor is responsible for the content in the linked 3rd party websites. Bank Independent's privacy policies do not apply to these linked websites.

Bank Independent does not endorse, nor is responsible for the content in the linked 3rd party websites. Bank Independent's privacy policies do not apply to these linked websites.