It can feel like cybercriminals develop new scams and ways to steal your personal and financial information every day. Caution is wise, but don’t let these digital threats overwhelm you. With preparation and education you can help protect yourself and others.
Sharpen your fraud spotting skills and test your cybersecurity knowledge with our latest quiz, then learn more about the latest fraud trends to be on the lookout for.
Stay a step ahead of tax fraud.
Tax season is one of the most opportune times for cybercriminals to steal your personal information, with the increase of transactions requiring the sharing of your sensitive data online (and offline). So, be on alert. If a would-be fraudster is able to access sensitive, personal data (like your social security number or personal tax identification number) they could file a tax return in your name, and fraudulently claim your tax refund.
Your best defense? File your taxes as early as possible. When you file early, you decrease the chances that a criminal could file on your behalf. Also, be extra vigilant about how and with whom you share your personal information. If you’re physically filing, do not leave tax forms lying around and shred paperwork you don’t need before throwing it away.
When filing digitally, remain suspicious of any email claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even if it has the appropriate logos. Remember: According to the IRS website, the IRS will never reach out to taxpayers via email for personal information. And always log off completely when finished with each transaction. Finally, however you choose to file, request your refund as a direct deposit, so criminals cannot redirect it or steal it from your mailbox.
Protect against deposit scams.
The rise of digital payment platforms like Venmo®, Zelle® and Apple Pay® have given scammers another opportunity to prey on unsuspecting app users. The good news is the tell-tale signs of a deposit scam are usually easy to spot.
As is the case with many phishing schemes, you may receive a spoofed text message, appearing to come from your bank warning about a suspicious Zelle or app transfer. Scammers also often send emails that may look like they’re from your bank or another legitimate organization. If you respond to this fraudulent outreach, you typically will receive a phone call from a scammer pretending to be from the financial institution’s fraud department.
Protect both your bank and digital accounts with these best practices:
- Remember Ally (or Zelle) will never ask for your username and password, and you should never give this out
- Set up account alerts to be received via SMS and email
- Pay close attention to any Zelle-related texts that you receive
If you receive a call from someone warning about fraud, keep this mantra in mind: Hang up, look up, and call back. Hang up, confirm the call was legitimate by independently looking up the number of the organization supposedly calling you, then, call them back at the number you found.
Fend off job fraud.
Employment scammers take a different route but have the same goal as most scam artists: access to your financial accounts and personal information. But don’t worry, like other online criminals, their patterns can be predictable. Be suspicious of any job that sounds too good to be true or offers significantly more money than similar positions. And never give out any personal information (like your driver’s license or bank account numbers) before an interview or a formal, official job offer.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, job hunters should be particularly wary of these common examples of employment fraud:
- Work-from-home job scams
- Reshipping and reselling merchandise scams
- Nanny, caregiver and virtual personal assistant job scams
- Mystery shopper scams
- Job placement service scams
- Government and postal jobs scams
And before you accept a job offer and send along your sensitive personal information, take some steps to protect yourself:
- Do an online search with the name of the company plus the keywords “scam”, “review” or “complaint”
- Talk to someone you trust or who works at the company for their first impression
- Never pay money for the promise of a job
- Remember, no legitimate potential employer will send you a check and then tell you to send part of the money elsewhere
Evolve your security.
Cybercriminals have fine-tuned their approaches to snatching targets, but just like technology evolves, so do their methods. You can protect yourself and others against new and trending scams by always staying alert, asking questions, double checking information and keeping yourself informed.
Rest assured, at Ally, helping you keep your personal and financial information secure is a top priority for us.