There’s no doubt about it; online banking has made our lives much easier, saving us the time and hassle of needing to visit our branch or phone through to a call center to transfer money, set up direct debits, or activate additional services, for example. With just a few clicks of the mouse, and in a matter of minutes – if not seconds – we can complete what we need to do and get on with our day.
Online banking has become such an everyday part of our lives that it’s easy to become complacent to the scams out there – but with online banking cons on the rise and costing account holders millions of dollars every year, it’s important to be aware of the – often very sophisticated – means that con artists can use to get hold of your banking details, commit identity fraud, or gain access to your payment card information. Even the most experienced and vigilant of people can be, and are, caught out by scammers.
Keep reading to find out the most prevalent online banking scams, and how to stay safe from them.
Getting hold of your online banking password allows cybercriminals to access your account and empty it of funds – often before you realize it’s been compromised. To protect yourself from this, never give out your password to anyone, and resist writing it down anywhere. It’s also vital to ensure that you use a password that can’t be easily guessed – never use, for example, names, dates of birth, addresses, or a password that you’ve used elsewhere; and ideally, one that doesn’t contain any whole words.
Another way that hackers can gain access to your account is via a weak password – advanced software allows criminals to run millions of possible permutations through the system in seconds, allowing them to effectively ‘guess’ your access details. The more complex your password, the harder it’ll be to hack: ten seconds is all it can take to crack a password made up of five characters, whereas it would take over one hundred days to crack a password comprised of eight. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to prevent your bank account from being compromised is to create a password of at least eight characters, made up of a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
While the majority of people are now aware of phishing scams, they can still be sophisticated and credible-seeming enough to catch many out. Phishing scams typically involve a person being contacted via email in a communication that appears to have been sent from the individual’s bank. The email advises the person to click on a link to update their banking details for reasons that could include the possibility that their account has been hacked or due to system changes. These emails may look totally credible and feature the logos etc., that you would expect to see in a legit communication.
If the recipient clicks on the link, they will be taken to an official-looking site that appears to be that of their bank – however, the site is a clone, and the hackers will be able to see exactly the password and other details that the victim then inputs. These can subsequently be used to log into the mark’s real online banking portal, and they’ll be free to empty your account of funds.
To steer clear of phishing scams, never click through to a link that purports to be from your bank, or card issuer, that asks you to enter any of your personal information. If you’re at all unsure, contact your bank directly to find out whether the message really was from them – which will be unlikely. It’s important to let your bank or card issuer know about the phishing attack so that they can potentially investigate and warn other customers.
Targeting of Wireless Networks
Accessing the internet from your device while you’re out and about via wireless networks can leave you vulnerable to hackers or to being snooped on. If you log on to internet banking, your password, etc., could be discovered and used by cybercriminals to get into your account.
Avoiding using sites that require you to input your personal or banking details while you’re on a public connection is one way to protect yourself from this; alternatively, you may want to consider installing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection on your device to keep your private information safe and secure.
A VPN offers high levels of encryption as well as masking your device’s IP address – when you’re using one to connect to the internet, it is extremely difficult for a hacker to gain access to any of your details. VPNs are becoming increasingly used as standard and are a cost-effective, easy way to keep your connection and your details secure.
Virus and Worm Attacks
These types of scams are widespread and can catch out even the most wary of internet users. This particular cybercrime involves persuading someone to click onto a link by a scammer purporting to be a representative of your online banking platform. If you do this, then your computer may freeze, and a message pops up on your screen to the effect that your software needs updating, and to click to confirm that you wish for this update to begin….however, instead of upgrading your software, you get a virus or worm installed on your computer. This can result in damage to your hardware, software, and the mining of your personal and banking information – it may even take some time for it to become obvious that the attack has taken place.
Anti-virus software is a great way to help protect you from virus and worm attacks and can warn you if a website you’re attempting to access is suspicious or compromised.
Dangers of Using Public Computers
Public computers can pose a particular danger when it comes to your online banking details. Scammers will even go as far as finding employment in a venue where the public has access to computers on-site; they will then install malicious software on one or more of these devices, which may, for example, record keystrokes. Should an individual then use one of these computers to access their online banking platform, the scammer will be able to discover their username and password details and thus be able to access their account.
Avoiding using public computers – and certainly never using them to log on to your bank accounts – is highly recommended to protect yourself against the possibility of hacking.
Other Types of Scams
If you’re a business, watch out for so-called Supplier Scams. In this case, the fraudsters will contact you, posing as one of your regular suppliers, and they can be very convincing. You will likely be told that their banking details have changed and give you the new account information asking you to send future payments to the new account.
Another Supplier Scam involves a fraudster contacting your office, again impersonating one of your suppliers, asking for an urgent payment to be made in order for goods to be released, for example. It’s important, therefore, to train staff regarding the dangers of this type of scam to help keep your business safe.
Additional Ways to Keep Your Bank Account Safe
As well as the steps above relevant to specific scams, there are some other easy ways to stay safe from fraudsters. Firstly, it’s important to check your bank statements regularly: at least once a month, with a fine-tooth comb. Hackers will sometimes siphon off relatively small amounts of money from an account they’ve gained access to in order to evade detection for as long as possible. Staying on top of your monthly bank statements means you’ll quickly spot any debits or charges that you don’t recognize and take the necessary steps.
Next, take the action that is needed to keep your account and password information private. Never provide it unless absolutely necessary, and you’re completely confident that the company requesting it is legitimate.
Finally, if you do notice anything suspicious, get in touch with your bank straight away – don’t be tempted to wait or to confront the fraudsters yourself. Keep any documentation that relates to the scam ready to provide to your bank if needed.
What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed?
If you’ve fallen victim to an online banking scam and lost money, as a result, there may be a way to get your funds back. For the best chance of success, it’s advisable to contact a reputable company, like Worldwide Recovery, that specializes in assisting their clients in recouping the money they’ve lost to a wide range of financial scams. If you’re not sure whether the scam you’ve been prey to falls under their remit, get in touch with the friendly team to find out if and how they can help you.
Taking the steps necessary to protect yourself from online banking scams is crucial but if you have been scammed, getting in touch with a company that can help at your earliest convenience is the best course of action.