Avoid Scams & Bank Securely In The Time Of COVID

  • August 28, 2020
  • By Joshua D. Scroggin

Now more than ever, criminals are having success getting people just like you to hand over all the info they need to drain their banking accounts.The COVID-19 pandemic is at least partly to blame for this new surge in fraud. We’ve all had to become more comfortable doing business from home, online and over the phone rather than heading out to a brick and mortar location.

And criminals are taking advantage.

Here are some scams to watch out for and ways you can make sure your accounts remain safe from con artists looking to steal your money.

Keep your info private 

The number one thing you need to know is simple: Do not share your full account numbers — including debit and credit card numbers — with anyone. Once someone knows your account number, they can make charges to your account at any time. And you may be liable for the charges if you willingly gave your account number to a friend or family member who abused it or if you personally authorized a charge to a scammer.

How to protect yourself: Please know that CoastHills will never ask you to provide your entire account number to verify your identity. Be wary of anyone who does.

Don’t get caught in a mobile mess

Our mobile phones are the easiest way people can get in touch with us. They’re also the most convenient avenue for criminals to scam you.

In one of the most common tricks, a fraudster will pose as an official representative from a company you trust, and they'll abuse that trust to steal information from you. These kinds of attacks are commonly called phishing. Phishing scams can come your way by email, but they can also be text messages or phone calls. The scammer will ask for your credit card numbers or even ask you to purchase gift cards to unlock your account or Social Security Number.

How to protect yourself: If any business is asking for your full credit or debit card number in order to take an action on your behalf, be suspicious. Disconnect your call, verify the company’s phone number through an official source and call to verify the claims of the previous person you interacted with.

Money transfer apps are just like cash

Thanks to apps like Venmo, Zelle and Popmoney, it’s more convenient than ever to send someone you know money. But when you use these kinds of person-to-person payment apps, the emphasis should always be on someone you know. When you send money through these apps, it’s as if you just handed someone a wad of cash. And in the case of many scammers, there’s nothing stopping them from walking away with your dough without ever providing the service or product they promised you.

How to protect yourself: When sending a P2P payment always make sure that you are sending money to someone you know and trust — or that the product or service being offered is provided in advance. Don’t get fooled by a seller you do not know who can easily just accept your payment and disappear.

Family fraud

Believe it or not, one of the most common types of fraud comes from people sharing their account information with family members. And it’s not always malicious.

Sometimes, gift requests can come in the form of a mobile phone video game or ordering something from an internet site you don’t use. It might be easy to just hand your payment information to a relative and have them complete the purchase for you. But in many of those cases, your account is saved for future payments. You may have authorized that initial gift, but what you also did was permit recurring payments and additional purchases that you’re not expecting. In more extreme cases, yes, sometimes a family member will intentionally defraud a relative by gaining access to their account info and abusing it.

How to protect yourself: Fortunately, there are many alternatives to sharing your account numbers with family. Mobile stores and websites often offer gift card options. And P2P payments are great for giving a gift amount of a specific value.

In the cases where you need a family member to help with your finances, don’t just hand over your credit card. Make them an authorized user or a joint signer on your account, and pay close attention to your statements. That way, there’s a record of who’s responsible for every transaction, and you can make a change or dispute if anything improper happens.

Set up alerts

With CoastHills online banking, it’s easy to keep a close watch for fraudulent transactions by setting up alerts.

You can receive a text message or email anytime any of your accounts has a large withdrawal or deposit. You decide the amount that qualifies as large. You can even set alerts to trigger if your balance goes below a certain threshold, which you can also set yourself.

How to protect yourself: After logging in from your web browser, just look for “My Settings” in the upper right. Then from the settings screen, scroll to the bottom and click on “Alerts and Notifications.”

It’s even easier to set up push notifications from our mobile app. Navigate to Settings in the More menu and tap on Push Notifications. Then toggle any of the alerts you want to receive as mobile alerts.

You can even set up alerts for your non-CoastHills accounts by importing them into Money Management. Get started by logging into online banking and clicking or tapping on Money Management from your browser or mobile app.

Here to help

No matter your inquiry, give us a call at (805) 733-7600, or use one of our other convenient contact methods.