Reports regarding social engineering attacks on bank consumers have recently surfaced, designed to get customers to divulge confidential or personal information. These scams originate with a text-based (smishing) message. If the bank customer responds to the text, it results in a targeted phone call (vishing) attack. On the call, scammers impersonate the bank’s customer service provider to acquire digital banking credentials (including multi-factor authentication codes) with the goal of executing an unauthorized person-to-person (P2P) transfer.
Banks have also received a spoofed call from the apparent service provider’s registered phone number. It is believed that the fraudster obtains the target list of known bank customers by researching who has interacted with the bank’s social media (Facebook) posts. Based on initial investigations, this appears to be a sophisticated, well-organized, and targeted fraud campaign. It is believed the fraudsters are well trained in sales and influence techniques, including forwarding calls to a “manager” (another fraudster) as an added persuasion technique.
At FNBMD, we have not observed this attack on our banking customers using P2P transfer capabilities within our digital banking services. However, it is possible that scammers will target other service providers in the future. We’ll continue to monitor for this activity, but we want to emphasize the importance of not providing personal or confidential information over the phone or via text. Banks will not call and request personal or sensitive information that they should already have. Never provide a caller with information such as your name, address, and account number.
While scams against seniors are not new, they are sadly on the rise. Scammers have always gone after older adults because they believe seniors have more money in the bank than other demographics and are less likely to question them. “Criminals know that older Americans hold approximately 65% of bank deposits in the U.S. and unfortunately, that concentration of wealth often makes them prime targets for financial exploitation,” said ABA Foundation Executive Director Lindsay Torrico.
These scams devastate seniors, who may not be able to recover their funds and are also embarrassed that they were taken advantage of in this way. One of the most common situations deals with what is referred to as the “family imposter” or “grandparent scam,” where the scammer pretends to be one of the senior’s grandchildren, claiming they are in desperate trouble and need their immediate help. Pulling on their heartstrings, the scammers try to get a money transfer or gift card from the unsuspecting person.
The ABA Foundation recently released seven new videos intended to help raise awareness about the top scams targeting older Americans. Those scams include family impostor, government impostor, tech support, money mule, sweetheart, and lottery. Knowledge is power, so being aware of these scam techniques is the first step, and sharing the information with your older friends and family members can really help protect them.
More than ever, people are turning to online dating to find that special someone. This creates a new opportunity for scammers. In Romance scams, also coined “Sweetheart scams” or “Online dating scams,” scammers create a fake dating profile on a dating app or social media platform and then search not for the perfect match, but for the perfect target.
Scammers then build an online relationship with someone who is searching for love by sharing elaborate stories of their past and even fake photos. Soon, they start requesting money from their “new love” to pay for a visa (claiming they are overseas), a medical emergency, or a plane ticket to come visit them. They may even ask them to sign a document giving them financial control or to open a joint banking account.
Scammers will take advantage of any opportunity to steal money from unsuspecting consumers. While they particularly like going after vulnerable groups, it is important to remember that anyone can be a target. We recommend that all bank customers keep scams in mind and look for red flags. Trust your instinct. If something doesn't sound right, chances are it isn’t. If you think you may be involved in a scam, stop by your local FNBMD branch for educational materials and guidance. Most importantly, report it!
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