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Protecting Yourself from Phone Scams

April 15, 2023

Receive A Strange Message Or Phone Call? What You Do Next Makes All The Difference.

Phone scams come in various forms across your digital devices and smartphones. Attackers use “phishing” techniques using fake emails, voice messages, texts, and other methods to create a complete picture of their target. However, it is an actual phone call that allows attackers to take advantage of the surprise effect. 

Young worried man receives a suspicious text.

How It Starts

Well-practiced scam callers know how to direct the conversation toward gaining your trust. They will provide fake credentials, name drops, and perhaps even list off some of your favorite interests and hobbies as their own (which they can easily spot from your social media posts and pictures).

They may claim to be an employee of a trusted organization that you are affiliated with. The scammers will create a sense of urgency by insinuating there is a problem with your account. Their mission is to convince you to provide your passwords and personal information. 

Be a Human Firewall

Since an attack can come in just about any digital form, it’s important to have a defense that covers all of them. That defense is you. Knowing and asking yourself the following questions can help protect you no matter the source of the attack:

  • Am I familiar with the sender or caller?

  • Does the communication plead with you to take action by clicking a link, downloading something, or supplying personal information?

  • Does the caller or message threaten you by saying an account has been hacked or that you’re facing legal action?

  • Does the communication contain poor grammar or misspelled words?

  • Are there any suspicious links or unexpected attachments?

  • Does the message offer unrealistic promises like large sums of money?

Stay Familiar

Stay up to date with trending scams. Knowing about what scams are out there in the news and public conversation is a great way to maintain your human firewall status.

You can begin by looking up the following types of scams to see if they are currently in the news:

  • Phishing / Smishing - deceptive emails, phone calls, or texts that appear to be from valid sources to trick you into providing personal information

  • Spoofing - the act of disguising a communication from an unknown source (cell phone) to seem like it’s from a known, trusted source to gain access to a victim’s personal information. There are many apps that scammers can use to disguise their phone number as someone you know.

  • Identity Theft - when someone uses a person’s personal information for financial gain, avoiding detection by law, or falsifying insurance and medical documents.

  • Malware - malicious software introduced by clicking on an infected link, attachment, or image in an email or website that would allow fraudsters to gain access to personal information or take control of the computer.

  • Social Engineering - uses social networking sites to manipulate you into sharing personal information and contacts.

  • Email Compromise - fraudsters can use your email to assume your identity and make fraudulent banking requests or change banking information. 

The Most Important Defense is YOU

Always remember you are the most important layer of defense against attackers. You should always verify everything, across all forms of communication. 

Do not provide personal information to anyone who has contacted you via text message or phone call. Never provide anyone your credentials for online banking or other important online systems you utilize. If you receive a text or call concerning your banking account, stop! If you are unsure of anything at all, call your financial institution directly and ask if they sent you the communication. 

Get more insight on recent scams in our community by visiting our Identity Protection page. You can also download and print this Social Engineering Red Flags document. If you feel you may have been the target of a scam or would like more information about how to better protect your identity, please contact First Source at 315-735-8571 to report any activity that might seem suspicious to our Member Care Center or schedule an appointment today.

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Interested in learning more? There are also additional resources which have been created specifically to help you best control and leverage your finances. Feel free to use these anytime!

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