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Stay Safe Online: Beware of emerging financial scams.

in Protecting Your Identity
online scams

As modern technology advances, unfortunately so do the complexities of frauds and scams. In an age where digital transactions are commonplace and artificial intelligence (AI) can create convincing phishing emails and robocall scripts, staying informed about the latest scams is crucial for safeguarding your finances. Below is a roundup of some prevalent schemes that cybercriminals are currently using to defraud banking consumers.

Types of Scams

Phone and Text Message Scams

Fraudsters keep increasing the sophistication of deceptive phone and text messages. These new and improved techniques include persuasive robocalls offering fake warranties, prizes, or vacations, impersonators posing as law enforcement, government, or financial institution officials, and malicious QR codes posted on legitimate signs that lead to fraudulent websites. In some instances, criminals can even execute SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) swaps that reassign your phone number to a phone they control and use it to take over victims’ accounts and bypass security measures like two-factor authentication.

Online Marketplace Fraud

Online platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are hotspots for fraudsters pretending to be legitimate buyers or sellers. A typical scam involves the scammer requesting Google Voice verification codes under the pretext of confirming the seller’s identity, only to hijack their phone number for other scams​. Others commit outright theft by insisting on a deposit for an item that is never delivered by a seller who suddenly vanishes once they’ve received the money.

Payment App Vulnerabilities

Apps like Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App, while convenient, have become targets for scammers. Common tactics include requesting money under the guise of an accidental overpayment or sending fraudulent fraud alerts to steal login credentials​. If you’re using these apps to send money to someone, make sure you confirm their account. If you send money to a fraud or imposter, you won’t to get it back.

Cryptocurrency Scams

The buzz about cryptocurrency has calmed a bit, but it will likely return in one form or another, and so will scams promising amazing returns by investing in it. These usually involve fake investment opportunities or impersonations of celebrities promoting nonexistent cryptocurrencies. Don’t get fooled.

Romance Scams

Online dating platforms are fraught with risks due to romance scammers who create fake profiles to exploit emotional connections. These criminals often establish a virtual relationship with their victims, then weave elaborate stories to solicit money for emergencies, travel, or medical expenses​. Once they get money for one emergency, another emergency or tragedy happens, and they need some more. Or maybe they “accidentally” send you money and ask you to send it back, or hold on to it for a while, with the intent of getting access to your account and draining it. According to the FTC, victims lost $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022 and the median loss was $4,400 per person.

Job Scams

Online job offers are all over Facebook groups, promising easy money to be made at home. Beware of offers that require upfront payments for training or background checks. These fraudulent postings might promise high salaries for remote work but end up being schemes for money laundering or identity theft​.

Ransomware Attacks

This form of malware blocks access to a victim’s data or entire system until a ransom is paid. Initiating through suspicious email attachments or downloads, ransomware demands can be costly and damaging​.

Coupon Scams

In an attempt to save money, many fall prey to scam coupons posted online promising great deals. Often, these offers are baits to install malware or phish for personal information​.

Protect Yourself

First, remember no legitimate financial services company or government agency is ever going to call and ask for your personal information. Never provide this information on any call or email you do not initiate. On a call you do initiate, and/or when calling about an offer made by someone you don’t actually know, confirm the legitimacy of the contact and verify the source of the offer before responding to any requests for personal information.

Use secure connections: Ensure that any transaction or communication uses secure, encrypted channels.

Install security software: Keep your devices protected with the latest antivirus software and update patches regularly. Also remember that many fraudsters pose as security people —be extra cautious if you receive a call or an email regarding a problem with your antivirus software.

Stay informed: Regularly check for updates on new scamming techniques and participate in security awareness programs offered by your financial institution.

Report Suspicious Activities

If you suspect that you’ve been targeted by a scam, immediately report the incident to your financial institution. You can also file a complaint with appropriate fraud prevention agencies to help stop the scammers from doing further harm.

By staying vigilant and informed, you can protect yourself and your finances from the sophisticated scams proliferating in the digital world.

Lafayette Federal is Committed to Our Members’ Financial Well-being

At Lafayette Federal, we know that the rise of online scams puts more and more people at risk of financial fraud every day. We care about our members’ online and financial safety, and our team members are trained to help you spot potential scams or abuse that could harm your financial wellbeing.

If you have concerns about a potential scam or believe you may be a victim to one, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Come into a branch or learn more about protecting your identity online at Lafayette Federal.

Not a Lafayette Federal member yet? You can become a member by completing an online membership application.

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