What's the best anti-fraud protection? You.
"The biggest takeaway is: pay attention," said Abdullah Aliya, fraud manager in the Financial Crimes Department at BOK Financial®. In his role, Aliya helps with risk mitigation, loss control and protecting accounts from fraudulent activity.
Fraud is on the rise. In 2021, there were 5.88 million reports of fraud to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—a 19% increase from the previous year. The cost of those losses was more than $6.1 billion, 77% higher than the year before. Identity theft topped the list, making up 24% of complaints, followed closely by imposter scams.
These figures are in line with what Aliya's seeing. "The trends in online fraud are constantly changing, but we've seen a big influx of scammers impersonating banks or financial institutions in the last quarter or so," he said.
For example, scammers will reportedly text people pretending to be the bank and ask them to click on a link to verify information. Once they click that link, they grant access to all of their online banking information and now the scammers can send out large amounts of money.
What to do if you get a banking alert
In some cases, banking customers may receive alerts about a change to an account they did not make or notification of an account they did not create.
"If this happens to you, immediately call the customer service line or stop by a branch to report it so we can stop further harm," Aliya said. "Don't ever click a link. Do your homework, and if you get a text claiming to be from us, call and verify that it is in fact from your bank before you click on it."
Another scam involves scammers calling or texting, pretending to be the bank and asking you details related to your account. "Impersonation remains a constant threat, so we want to make people aware," Aliya said.
How to protect yourself
While threats can come from a number of places, here are seven precautions you can take to protect your online accounts:
- Avoid clicking on links. Unless you're expecting a link or document to be sent, avoid clicking on links you receive via email or text messages.
- Pay attention to security alerts about data breaches. When a data breach occurs, businesses are required to alert consumers of what information was breached and might be available to cybercriminals. In this instance, it's a good idea to change your password if you have reason to believe your information has been compromised.
- Do not share codes or authentication information. Banking apps and financial logins typically require you to set up multi-factor authentication (MFA) to protect your accounts. With MFA, when you use your password to login, a push notification or code is sent to your phone via text message, which you must enter to gain access to your account. Fraudsters may request this information while impersonating your bank or financial institution, but you should never give these codes to anyone.
- Protect your banking information like you would your physical wallet. "If you give someone your wallet, they have access to your ID, cash, debit cards, account information and your name. "They can send money using the Zelle app, and then you're out all of that money," Aliya said. "Treat your digital information like your wallet and protect it as such."
- Pay attention to passwords. Don't repeat passwords across accounts because, if there's a data breach and someone gets your password, they will have access to multiple accounts. Instead, use a password manager that allows you to store your passwords in an MFA-enabled account and autofill from your browser. Stay away from saving passwords in your browser—these are prone to hacking.
- If your information is stolen, put a freeze on your credit. Reach out to the three credit bureaus and place a freeze or an alert so that if someone applies for a line of credit or there's an inquiry, you will know. If you're a part of a breach and you discover your identity has been stolen, visit identitytheft.gov, the Federal Trade Commission's reporting site, and file a report.
- Monitor your credit. Prevention is the biggest thing you can do to protect yourself, so regularly monitor your credit score and report to ensure everything on there is your doing.
Learn more about BOK Financial's online security or call 844-517-3308 to report suspicious activity on BOK Financial-related accounts. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency also keeps an up-to-date list of current threats.