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Protect Yourself from Bank Scams with One Simple Step

Hang up and call back

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from bank scams is deceptively simple: when you get a call claiming to be from your bank, hang up and call back using the official number. This small action can save you from potentially devastating fraud.

The Growing Sophistication of Scammers

Scammers have evolved from merely pretending to be from your bank to using advanced techniques like spoofing phone numbers. This means they can manipulate caller ID to display your bank’s name and number, making the call appear even more legitimate. They often start the scam by correctly identifying your bank and addressing you by name, which adds a layer of credibility. Here’s a quick guide to safeguard your information:

  1. Hang Up Immediately: If you receive an unsolicited call from your bank, don’t engage. Politely inform the caller that you will call the bank back using the official number and then hang up.
  2. Use the Official Number: Look up your bank’s contact number on their website or on the back of your bank card. Never use the number provided by the caller.
  3. Verify with Your Bank: When you call the official number, explain the situation and verify if there were any issues with your account. This ensures you’re speaking to a genuine bank representative.

A Real-Life Example

I received a call a few weeks ago. The number was blocked, but I had just dealt with several minor home emergencies and wasn’t really thinking, so I answered it.

The caller claimed to be from my bank (they correctly identified the bank and addressed me by name), saying they had detected some suspicious activity on my card. They wanted to confirm several charges as fraudulent so they could lock the card, reverse the charges, and issue me a new card.

This wasn’t entirely unusual—I’ve had to deal with fraudulent charges on my card a few times before. They listed about four charges, giving the time, place, and amount. None of them were mine. It felt routine, just another task to get through. They said they’d removed the charges.

After clearing that up, they asked me to log in to the mobile app to verify everything was in order. That struck me as odd. How would someone using my card information affect my app login? But logging into the app seemed safe enough, so I did.

They mentioned, without me asking, that the fraudulent charges wouldn’t show up in the app. That was another red flag—no bank moves that fast, especially not mine. But seeing no fraudulent charges didn’t raise immediate concern, so I brushed it off. The routine was lulling me into a sense of compliance.

Next, they asked if they could send me a text with a link to verify the web portal as well. I started to feel uneasy. I didn’t want to dig out my long, random password stored securely on my computer, and those little red flags were waving more prominently in my mind. Then it hit me—they just asked me to click a link and enter my bank password.

That snapped me out of my trance. I realized what they were doing and what they were after. I also noticed they hadn’t followed the usual security protocols my bank uses during phone interactions, like verifying my identity with a voice password.

I hung up and started investigating on my computer. The website they sent was convincing, but only the login fields worked. The source code was full of hidden text to mislead search engines, and it was registered to an empty lot in a nearby city. After a couple of failed login attempts, it redirected to the real bank website with a message saying everything was fine.

I managed to get the fraudulent site taken down, but I’m sure it’s back up somewhere else. The site had only been registered for two weeks, but it was clear they’d been using the same code for a while. I can’t help but wonder how many people lost their life savings in those two weeks. It keeps me up at night.

Stay vigilant, folks. They almost took everything I’ve worked for and everything my family relies on, just because I answered the phone while tired and distracted.

The Golden Rule: Hang Up and Call Back

Here’s the tip that could save your savings:

As soon as you receive a call claiming they’re from your bank, hang up then call your bank’s number.

It’s that simple, yet incredibly effective.

When you call the official number on the back of your bank card, you know you’re reaching the real institution.

It disrupts the scammer’s script: Fraudsters rely on keeping you on the line and under pressure. By hanging up, you regain control.

You have time to think: That moment between hanging up and calling back gives you a chance to collect your thoughts and approach the situation calmly.

Additional Tips to Stay Safe

  • Be Wary of Urgency: Scammers create a sense of urgency to prompt immediate action. Always take a moment to verify.
  • Never Share Personal Information: Banks will never ask for sensitive information like your full password or PIN over the phone.
  • Report Suspicious Activity: If you suspect a scam, report it to your bank and relevant authorities immediately.

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