5 ways Scammers are Targeting your Bank Account

By Devin Partida

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Scammers use various tactics to target victims’ financial data today, ranging from malware to fake giveaways.

People can protect themselves and their data online by understanding the risks at play.

Here are the top five bank account scams everyone should know about:

1. Phishing Emails and Texts

Phishing is one of the most common tactics scammers use to target victims’ bank accounts. Reported phishing attacks rose 61% in 2021, surpassing 1 million incidents worldwide. These attacks use deceptive messages to trick victims into giving away personal information, frequently including banking data.

Phishing messages most often come in the form of emails or texts. Scammers write the messages so they appear to be coming from a bank or credit card company. Usually, there is some urgent emergency in the phishing message that demands an immediate response from the victim. For instance, a phishing text might warn a victim that money was removed from their account.

This tactic aims to scare victims into panicking and responding to the message right away. Despite the urgency of messages like this, people must always contact their bank or credit card company directly to ask about the message before responding. This might take some time, but it ensures that phishing attacks fail to harvest sensitive banking information.

2. Online Shopping Scams

Online shopping scams are becoming more popular today, and they can be tricky to spot. These scams involve online stores collecting users’ bank account information in the background. They may or may not fulfill orders and can sell any kind of products. However, it is usually a sign that a store is a scam if an order is not fulfilled.

Online shopping scams often feature very cheap products. If something looks like a good deal, unsuspecting victims are more likely to fall for the scam. The store website may function smoothly and look like any other shopping website. A lack of customer service is a key giveaway that a store is probably a scam.

3. Fake Fraud Alerts

Fake fraud alerts are a specific type of phishing scam that leverages victims’ preexisting fear of data and identity theft. These dangerous fake messages are disguised as fraud alerts and may even specify the victim’s bank or credit card company.

A great example is the “account takeover” scam, which takes over a victim’s account by getting them to respond to a fraudulent account takeover alert. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, once the victim responds to the fake message, they give the scammer the data they need to take over the victim’s account.

Luckily, there are a few ways to spot this kind of scam. If the message asks the victim to share personal information, it is most likely fraudulent. No bank or credit card company will request personal information via email, text or unsolicited calls.

Victims of this type of scam should check their bank or credit card activity directly, as well. Checking will usually reveal that no one withdrew money or accessed their account without permission.

4. Award, Prize, Giveaway and Lottery Scams

One type of bank account scam on the rise is fake awards, prizes, giveaways and lottery announcements. These scams often appear as emails and text messages but can also pop up as ads online. For example, YouTuber MrBeast has warned fans of a widespread scam impersonating him and claiming to give away free money.

This type of scam will usually ask victims to pay a “shipping” or “processing” fee or request bank details for transferring the prize money. After the victim gives this information or makes a payment, they never hear from the scammer again and don’t get any prize or money.

Luckily, this type of scam is fairly easy to spot. No YouTuber or influencer promotes giveaways as ads. They almost always announce a giveaway in their videos or through an official email newsletter users must sign up for. Additionally, no real giveaway or award will require winners to share bank details.

When it comes to giveaways and prize notifications, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

5. Malware and Viruses

Malware is among the oldest tricks scammers use to steal personal information online. It requires more technical skill than some other types of scams, but it remains common today. Scammers will often hide malware download links on websites and in phishing messages.

Once the victim opens the link, the malware downloads onto their device. The only way for the victim to regain control of their device is by paying the hacker. The victim loses money by doing this and likely exposes their bank account information.

Victims of this type of scam can contact the Federal Trade Commission for help and identity theft protection. They can also report the malware incident to help others avoid falling for the same trap.

Protecting Account Data from Scammers

The best way to protect bank account data from scammers is to approach suspicious emails and websites with caution. Scammers try to get people to panic and react without thinking or doing research. Resisting the urge to act impulsively on concerning messages can go a long way toward preventing data or identity theft.

Devin Partida is the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com, and a personal finance writer. Though she is interested in all kinds of topics, she has steadily increased her knowledge of the intersection of finance and technology. Devin’s work has been featured on Entrepreneur, Due and Nasdaq.

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