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Stay Sharp: Tips to Avoid Being Scammed

Young man looking at his computer and talking to his banker about being scammed.

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In an act of desperation, Terry* frantically picked up the phone and called his Personal Banker at Crews Bank & Trust. Minutes before, when he logged into his online account, he saw several unauthorized transactions from an unknown source. Terry was panicked. What should he do?

Our team of experts was able to take decisive action quickly and stop the transactions and ensure Terry’s account was safe. Having a hometown bank, with his own Personal Banker, gave Terry an immediate recourse.

The unfortunate reality is that in 2023, Americans lost more than $10 billion to fraud, a 14% increase over 2022, and countless more billions of dollars are either lost or temporarily frozen every year because of scams - investment scams, imposter scams, email and texting scams, identity theft and more. In 2023, consumers reported losing the most money to bank transfers and cryptocurrency.

At Crews, it is our mission to not only be there for you if you fall victim to a scam, but also to educate you so that you know how to stop scammers in their tracks.

We are always here to discuss your concerns and share our knowledge with you. Check out these three simple ways to stay safe in a world full of scams.

Hang up the Phone and go Straight to the Source

Did you know that just because your Caller ID says it's someone from “Victoria’s Floral Shop” calling that doesn’t guarantee that’s true? Criminals are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and can hack into a company’s phone system to use their name, which immediately makes the caller feel like it’s someone they know. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Never share any personal or financial information with someone you did not initiate an interaction with. For example, if someone calls and tries to collect a medical debt that you know nothing about, you should hang up the phone and directly call the institution the potential phonies say they are representing.

Also, you have the right to say, “I will come to the bank/office instead of doing this over the phone,” or telling the caller you will call your local branch or the company directly, to verify the call. A legitimate employee will never have a problem with this. If the caller insists on immediate action or threatens you, hang up and call the company directly.

Blocking unwanted calls is your best defense. And the easiest thing to do is simply don’t answer a call from an unrecognized number. It may save you much aggravation and if it’s a legitimate call, the caller will leave a message.

Make Stealing Your Passwords the Next “Mission Impossible”

It’s cute and easy to remember if you use your anniversary date or the name of your first pet as your passwords, but according to the experts, it’s also too predictable. Passwords should never contain any of your or your family’s personal information because it’s far too simple to find birth dates, phone numbers and addresses online. It’s also wise to make passwords longer so password generating hackers have lower odds to find their way into your personal vaults.

A best practice is to use an unpredictable mix of lower and uppercase letters, symbols and numbers to increase your password strength. There are lots of password managers, free and paid, that will help you generate and manage all those crazy letter/number/symbol combinations.

Stay Informed by Organizations Who Make Your Security Their Priority

A few times each year it’s a worthwhile practice to familiarize yourself with what’s trending in the world of digital scams. Every year the Internal Revenue Service issues it’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the top places to be on the lookout for scammers and scams that have unfortunately already done more than enough damage. The “Consumer Advice” section of the Federal Trade Commission is like an encyclopedia of knowledge that you should “favorite” to keep you up to date on the latest fraud alerts and practices. Sheriff’s offices and police departments are also committed to sharing about local and regional schemes and scams on social media.

If you feel you have been scammed, there are many resources to help you figure it out. Call your personal banker and let them know what’s happened. The FTC has a handy guide that tells you what to do by situation and a link to report the scam. You can also report the scam to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker to help prevent others from falling for the same scam.

Being vigilant and educated are your two best defenses against being scammed. If you sense something isn’t right, your good instincts may be telling you something. Err on the side of caution and don’t panic; you have resources, like your personal banker, who can help you through it.

Dive deeper into protecting your personal security, by visiting our Security Resources page. 

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