October 19, 2022 · Credit, Investment, Savings, Security
October highlights two very important events, one of which is well known, while the other is not quite as famous—Halloween and National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a combined effort of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA); it unites government and industry to raise cybersecurity awareness nationally and internationally. Another of NCSAM’s goals is to help individuals protect themselves online as threats to technology and confidential data become more commonplace.
Cybersecurity is important, since cybercrime’s effect on people’s lives can be very frightening and cost people money and their identity. According to the 2021 Internet Crime Report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “In 2021, America experienced an unprecedented increase in cyber attacks and malicious cyber activity.” Of the top five crimes in the report, identity theft ranked second and personal data breach ranked third. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) highlighted in its 2021 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book how most of last year’s consumer fraud money losses occurred: “Bank transfers and payments accounted for the highest aggregate losses reported in 2021 ($756 million).” Not all crimes are reported to government authorities, so the total amount of crimes committed and money lost is probably higher.
According to the World Bank, “Two-thirds of adults worldwide now make or receive a digital payment.” The popularity of online and mobile banking means that digital payments will let us pay almost anyone, anywhere, any time—and virtually instantly. There are different online and mobile payments apps and services that operate both nationally or internationally. Some services are independent companies, while others are owned by larger organizations, such as PayPal® owning Venmo.
A few of the popular digital payment apps, platforms, networks and services in the United States are:
All of these types of payment technologies listed above make payments faster, and they have various types of security measures built into them, but they can’t completely prevent users from being tricked into making a payment to a scammer, or letting a fraudster gain access to a user’s account. Scammers can fake phone numbers and email addresses, they can obtain your address, find out what companies you have financial accounts with, and even obtain some of your account information.
An imposter crook can contact you and convincingly imitate a customer service representative from a bank or credit union, and it can be challenging to know if someone is speaking with a legitimate representative or a fake. These fraudsters will first contact and then alarm their victim with some purported “emergency” with their account that must be fixed right away, gain their trust with account details—and then they trick the anxious victim into revealing confidential details that make their account vulnerable to theft.
Even people who are skeptical when contacted by someone claiming to be from a reputable financial institution can be fooled; these scammers are very good at their type of crime, and there is no absolute immunity to being tricked. But there are actions that can be taken that may help make digital payments more secure and avoid scams.
A financial institution cannot know who its customers or members are talking or emailing with, and it cannot stop a customer or member from revealing account information or sending money to a fraudster. Your bank or credit union cannot help you unless you contact it and tell its representative that someone may be trying to get access to your account(s).
If a financial company’s customer or member willingly decides to send money to someone, if sending the money is their personal, voluntary decision—even if the funds are going to a crook—that payment is legal, authorized, and the responsibility of the sender.
Delta Community will never call, text, or email its members to ask for checking, savings or investment account details; ATM, debit or credit card Personal Identification Number (PIN) or their telephone access (IVR) PIN. We will also never ask members to send money electronically as a test or share one-time passcodes received via email or text.
Here are recommendations that could make personal digital payments safer:
Digital payments have great benefits; they’re easy, fast and efficient, but remember to be cautious when making them. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the FTC offer thorough recommendations on making safer payments, and Delta Community has more advice below.
*Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.