In today’s digital environment, there are many resources and tools available that can make life a little easier, such as peer-to-peer payment systems like Zelle, Venmo, and CashApp. Unfortunately, new tools mean new ways for fraudsters/scammers/hackers (whatever you’d like to call them) to use social engineering tactics to access information and gain access to your money. Scammers have continued to use the tactic “social engineering” to accomplish this. So what exactly is social engineering? Social engineering is where scammers misrepresent themselves (oftentimes as someone or as an organization you regularly engage with), to fool you into doing something that benefits them. Here is one of the latest financial scams that we’ve come across, and some ways that you can ensure you are protecting yourself and your loved ones.
Peer-to-Peer Payment Social Engineering Tactic
A new scam is targeting users of popular mobile payment apps. Some said they’ve been tricked into paying criminals thousands of dollars. Criminals will use a form of smishing, or fraudulent text messages, requesting you to verify a transaction or purchase. Of course, since many of us use our mobile devices now more than ever, scammers are taking advantage of the fact that they know we will most likely engage with them.
Recently, victims have been receiving fake text messages from scammers posing as financial institutions to verify transactions. They will bait folks into replying via text with a message that they will call the victim to complete the process to prevent identity theft. Next thing you know, the call comes through, but it’s from a spoofed phone number pretending to be a representative from the fraud department of that financial institution. The scammer walks the caller through instructions on how to reverse the unauthorized transaction (all of this is part of the scam). While on the phone, they receive another text asking to authorize a different payment along with a six-digit code. The scammer tells the caller to log into their account and provide the six-digit code to reverse the transaction. However, by typing the code instead of reversing the transaction, they are authorizing the transfer.
Fraudsters are using all kinds of disguises. Not only as financial institutions but utility companies as well. As you can imagine, this can have an extreme financial impact and make for a very stressful situation.
At Partners, the safety and security of your personal information and accounts is our first priority – but the very best defense in preventing fraud is for you to be well informed on how to safeguard your data and know the signs of a potential scam. Here are a few reminders that can help you identify potential fraud and keep your personal information and accounts protected:
• Always protect your passwords and never give them out to anyone who contacts you. Partners will NEVER ask for any online/digital banking passwords – not by phone, text, or email.
• When accessing your account online or via the mobile app, you may be asked to verify your identity via an OTP – or “one-time passcode,” which you will select to receive via text, email or a phone call. NEVER share this code with anyone – Partners representatives will NEVER ask for this code.
• If you are using a peer-to-peer payment app such as Zelle, it’s important that you know and trust those you send money to. Partners will NEVER ask you to transfer funds via Zelle to linked accounts.
• Fraud attempts like smishing, vishing, and phishing are very much a thing of the present so it’s important to stay alert. Don’t click on links or reply to text messages you don’t trust and when in doubt, contact the financial institution or service provider directly.
• Experts agree it’s always better to hang up and call your bank to make sure you are talking to the real bank. Any phone number can be spoofed, including a reputable organization.
• Do not use the same password for your accounts. If your email password is compromised elsewhere and it’s the same as your bank, scammers can then get into your bank account.
• Watch for “urgent” requests from recipients. If someone says you need to act now to resolve the issue, this is a scare strategy that scammers use to create a sense of urgency or panic.
If you suspect fraudulent activity on your account or believe someone may be attempting to steal your account information, please immediately contact the Partners Federal Credit Union member support team at 800.948.6677 to report it.
To learn about additional ways to keep yourself safe, we encourage you to visit our Partners Fraud Center. Here you will find tips and tricks to enhance your online security, ways to safely access your account information, and more!