Get scam smart.
Every day regular people like you lose their hard-earned money to online phishing scams. Don’t fall for fake — learn how to spot shady texts, emails, and phone calls by knowing the things your bank would never ask.
RULE 1: BE ALERT
Stay safe from scams with these tips
If an email pressures you to click a link — whether it’s to verify your login credentials or make a payment, you can be sure it’s a scam. Banks never ask you to do that. It’s best to avoid clicking links in an email. Before you click, hover over the link to reveal where it really leads. When in doubt, call your bank directly, or visit their website by typing the URL directly into your browser.
Banks will never use scare tactics, threats, or high-pressure language to get you to act quickly, but scammers will. Demands for urgent action should put you on high alert. No matter how authentic an email may appear, never reply with personal information like your password, PIN, or social security number.
Your bank will never send attachments like a PDF in an unexpected email. Misspellings and poor grammar are also warning signs of a phishing scam.
In the same way defensive driving prevents car accidents, always treating incoming email as a potential risk will protect you from scams. Fraudulent emails can appear very convincing, using official language and logos, and even similar URLs. Always be alert.
Scammers can make any number or name appear on your caller ID. Even if your phone shows it’s your bank calling, it could be anyone. Always be wary of incoming calls.
Never share sensitive information like your bank password, PIN, or a one-time login code with someone who calls you unexpectedly — even if they say they’re from your bank. Banks may need to verify personal information if you call them, but never the other way around.
Scammers count on getting you to act before you think, usually by including a threat. Banks never will. A scammer might say “act now or your account will be closed,” or even “we’ve detected suspicious activity on your account” — don’t give in to the pressure.
Whether it’s a scammer impersonating your bank or a real call, stay safe by ending unexpected calls and dialing the number on the back of your bank card instead.
Acting too quickly when you receive phishing text messages can result in unintentionally giving scammers access to your bank account — and your money. Scammers want you to feel confused and rushed, which is always a red flag. Banks will never threaten you into responding, or use high-pressure tactics.
Never click on a link sent via text message — especially if it asks you to sign in to your bank account. Scammers often use this technique to steal your username and password. When in doubt, visit your bank’s website by typing the URL directly into your browser or log in to your bank’s mobile app.
Your bank will never ask for your PIN, password, or one-time login code in a text message. If you receive a text message asking for personal information, it’s a scam.
Don’t risk accidentally replying to or saving a fraudulent text message on your phone. If you are reporting the message to law enforcement or the FTC, take a screenshot to share, then delete it.
Payment app scams often start with a phone call or text. If you get an unexpected call, just hang up. If you get an unexpected text, delete it. Even when they seem legitimate, you should always verify by calling your bank or payment app’s customer service number.
Don’t send money to someone you don’t know or have never met in person. These payment apps are just like handing cash to someone.
Scammers rely on creating a sense of urgency to get you to act without thinking. They might claim your account is in danger of being closed, or threaten you with legal action. These high-pressure tactics are red flags of a scam — a real bank would never use them.
Banks will never ask you to pay bills using a payment app, or ask you to send money to yourself. Scammers can “spoof” email addresses and phone numbers on caller ID to look like they’re from your bank, even when they’re not. When in doubt, reach out to your bank directly by calling the number on the back of your card.
Want a deeper look into scam safety?
RULE 2: BEEF UP YOUR DEFENSES
Lock down your accounts
RULE 2: BEEF UP YOUR DEFENSES
Lock down your accounts
Americans lost $5.8 billion to phishing and other fraud in 2021, a 70% increase from 2020.
Source: Federal Trade Commission 2021
Play Scam City
Danger lurks around every corner. Play your way to phishing safety by dodging, jumping and ducking different scams.
Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals make fraudulent emails, phone calls and texts that appear to come from a legitimate bank. Every year, people lose hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to these scams. The communication is designed to trick you into entering confidential information (like account numbers, passwords, PINs or birthdays) into a fake website by clicking on a link, or to tell it to someone imitating your bank on the phone.
Email or TextIf you suspect that an email or text you receive is a phishing attempt:
- Take a deep breath. In most cases, it’s perfectly safe to open a scam email or text. Modern mail apps, like Gmail, detect and block any code or malware from running when you open an email. The key is not to click links or download any attachments.
- Do not download any attachments in the message. Attachments may contain malware such as viruses, worms or spyware.
- Do not click links that appear in the message. Links in phishing messages direct you to fraudulent websites.
- Do not reply to the sender. Ignore any requests from the sender and do not call any phone numbers provided in the message.
- Report it. Help fight scammers by reporting them. Forward suspected phishing emails to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at [email protected]. If you got a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726). Then, report the phishing attack to the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
CallIf you receive a phone call that seems to be a phishing attempt:
- Hang up or end the call. Be aware that area codes can be misleading. If your Caller ID displays a local area code, this does not guarantee that the caller is local.
- Do not respond to the caller’s requests. Financial institutions and legitimate companies will never call you to request your personal information. Never give personal information to the incoming caller.
- If you feel you’ve been the victim of a scam, and you did provide personal or financial information, contact your bank immediately at their publicly listed customer service number. Often, this is found on the back of your bank card. Be sure to include any relevant details, such as whether the suspicious caller attempted to impersonate your bank and whether you provided any personal or financial information to the suspicious caller.
- Contact your bank, financial institutions and creditors
- Speak with the fraud department and explain that someone has stolen your identity.
- Request to close or freeze any accounts that may have been tampered with or fraudulently established.
- Make sure to change your online login credentials, passwords and PINs.
- Secure your email and other communication accounts
- Many people reuse passwords and your email or cell phone account may be compromised as well.
- Immediately change your accounts’ passwords and implement multi-factor authentication — a setting that prevents cybercriminals from accessing your accounts, even if they know your password — if you haven’t already done so.
- Check your credit reports and place a fraud alert on them
- Get a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com or call 877.322.8228.
- Review your credit report to make sure unauthorized accounts have not been opened in your name.
- Report any fraudulent accounts to the appropriate financial institutions.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit by contacting one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two.
– Experian: 888.397.3742 or experian.com
– TransUnion: 800.680.7289 or transunion.com
– Equifax: 888.766.0008 or equifax.com
- Contact ChexSystems at 888.478.6536 to place a security alert on the compromised checking and savings accounts when a deposit account has been impacted. Or, make your report to ChexSystems online.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report an ID theft incident: visit identitytheft.gov or call 877.438.4338.
- File a report with your local law enforcement.
- Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
Most banks publish specific guidelines for their customers. To find your bank’s recommendations, just type your bank’s name and “fraud guidelines” into any modern search engine.