Published December 2, 2022
The holiday shopping season is officially here, and just as you’re looking for the hottest deals, scammers are shopping as well.
You’ve probably heard of phishing. But do you really know what it is - and more importantly, how to protect yourself from falling victim to it? Phishing scams have become very sophisticated, but there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself and keep your personal information safe.
Let’s start with a basic description: Phishing is a type of scam where an attacker sends a fraudulent message to trick you into revealing sensitive information - often to access your accounts or commit identity theft. Phishing attempts usually occur through email, over the phone, or via text message. They can be very well-designed to look or sound like legitimate messages from those you know and trust, such as your financial institution, and may contain a link that directs you to a fake website that looks legitimate.
Tip #1: Do not expect phishing emails to be filtered into your Junk mail. Because they are often individually crafted based on information gathered on your social media sites, they can avoid detection from advanced email filters.
Tip #2: Be wary of long text numbers. If you receive a text message from an unidentified number longer than 10 digits, the odds are high, it’s a scam.
More Dos and Don’ts to Protect Yourself
Tip #3: Phone numbers and caller identities can be faked to look like the caller ID is from a business you know and trust, like your financial institution. Never trust that the caller ID is accurate. It is best to look up the company’s phone number on your own and call them.
If you detect suspicious activity, contact the alleged company directly. In the case of your financial institution, call at the number listed on the back of your bank-issued debit card, in your banking app, or the bank’s official website. Learn more about scams and ways to protect yourself by visiting zellepay.com/pay-it-safe
Published December 1, 2022
As technology gets more advanced, so do scam and fraud attempts. Scammers continue to find new ways to disguise themselves and lay their traps in the hopes of accessing your online account and funds. Know how to spot and dodge their schemes before they get started.
There are a variety of Imposter Scams, where a fraudster poses as a business or person you trust and tricks you into sending them money or sharing personal information.
It happens by you receiving a call, text, email, or computer pop-up with an official-looking logo, email address, or phone number on your caller ID. The message may claim to be from your banking institution, a business-like Amazon contacting you about an unauthorized transaction, a loved one who needs help, or from a federal agency, like the IRS. The urgent message prompts you to call or take steps that can quickly lead to trouble. It is important to remain vigilant and if anything, ever doesn’t feel right, reach out directly to your financial institution or the business/organization allegedly contacting you.
Contact your financial institution directly. To discuss any suspicious activity, call the number listed on your debit card, in your banking app, or on your institution’s official website.
Don’t give out full account numbers, PINs, or verification codes. Premier America and other legitimate financial institutions will never text, email, or call you and ask for these.
Avoid links and attachments unless you’re certain they’re from a trusted source. When in doubt, close it out, and visit the official website or Online Banking app directly. Never respond to demands for payment by gift card, wire, or money transfer, not even to yourself!
Our Online Banking and Mobile App protect your information using advanced data encryption and the latest fraud detection measures that help safeguard your account.
Always use a strong password and two-factor authentication and do your online banking from home or your device’s mobile app. Whenever possible, do not connect to public wi-fi when conducting your Online Banking. Be sure to monitor your account regularly. If you spot suspicious activity, please contact Premier America at (800) 772-4000 or visit a local branch near you.
Have you received a text message recently asking you to claim or confirm a package that needs to be delivered? If you haven’t, then you need to be aware of the latest credit card scam, where hackers try to get you to click on a link in a text message in order to get your personal and financial information.
The text message will generally have wording similar to “[Name], we found a package from July owed to you. Please claim ownership and schedule for delivery here: [link]”. The link will likely ask you to confirm your personal information and, although there are no charges owed, you’re still asked to provide your credit card information.
Here are a few tips to help you identify this scam:
What should you do when you receive a message like this?
As of July 2020, the unemployment rate in the United States was 10.2%. With tens of millions of people out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, scammers are hard at work trying—and often succeeding—to take advantage of the financial difficulties many Americans are currently experiencing.
Job scams aren’t new, but as unemployment has surged, they’re becoming more prevalent. Fraudsters are posing as legitimate employers and using increasingly sophisticated methods to prey on innocent Americans, posting job listings for positions that don’t exist, creating websites that look like the company they’re impersonating and scheduling “job interviews” with potential candidates.
A social media giant made headlines again this spring when more than 540 million user records were exposed to the public. As online data continues to be compromised, it becomes easier for hackers to trick people into handing over sensitive personal and financial information as well as their hard-earned money.
One of the challenges social media poses is that hackers aren’t just using information they find on a single site. They’re gathering information from multiple social media platforms and using it against you to create targeted messages that look legitimate.
Published May 24, 2019
HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Payments to the IRS are only payable to the United State Treasury. They do not accept payment in the form of prepaid debit cards, gift cards or wire transfers. IRS agents will NEVER demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or dispute the amount they say you owe. They have to advise you of your rights as a taxpayer. They cannot threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying your taxes. The IRS also has zero authority to revoke your driver’s license, business license or immigration status.
If an IRS representative calls or comes to your home or business unannounced to collect a tax debt or as part of an investigation, they will always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card. You have a right to see the credentials and can call the IRS to verify the identity/information on the representative’s HSPD-12 card.
Use a reputable tax preparer. Make sure you verify credentials and references before you hire a preparer. Red flags include charging fees based on the value of your refund, requiring refunds to be deposited into their bank account (or open a temporary account), or writing you a check in advance and stating your tax filing is complete. Beware of claims that you can get a larger refund than normal as this may involve falsifying your return.
To report tax-related illegal activities, contact the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration
at 800-366-4484. Unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or from a related component
such as EFTPS, should be reported to the IRS at email@example.com.
Published March 11, 2019
It can often feel like fraudsters are lurking around every corner, just waiting for their next target. One way they try to take advantage of unsuspecting victims is through job scams that provide fraudsters with sensitive data that allows them to gain access to your existing accounts or create new ones in your name. Common scams include:
What happens after you’re “hired”?
What happens next depends on the type of job scam the fraudster is using. Here’s what you can expect for a couple of common scenarios.
Unsolicited job offer or make easy money, no experience required scam
The fraudster will often send you a check to deposit into your bank account. You’ll be asked to email a picture of your deposit slip or ATM receipt to the scammer to authorize payment of the check.
Then, they’ll contact you to let you know you were overpaid and need to return the excess amount via money transfer. Because the check is fraudulent, when you transfer the “excess funds,” you’ll give them your hard-earned money.
If you provided the log-in information to your online/mobile banking during the “onboarding” process, instead of receiving a check in the mail, the fraudster may tell you he’s using remote deposit to deposit the funds into your account. He then deposits the check and makes person-to-person transfers to himself with money from your account.
If you provided your debit card and PIN, he’ll tell you he’s depositing your paycheck into your account. Then use your debit card to make purchases with your money.
Secret shopper scam
You’ll receive a check to deposit into your bank account, and you’ll be asked to email a picture of your deposit slip or ATM receipt to the fraudster to authorize payment of the check. You’ll also get your secret shopping assignment, where you’ll be asked to make purchases at various stores. And “shop” the money transfer services by sending the remaining money from the check you deposited to a specific person.
Can you recover your money?
Unfortunately, in many cases you’re stuck with any financial losses you experience. If you deposit a fraudulent check into your account and use or transfer some or all the funds from it, you’re liable for the money that was used.
Furthermore, when you share your online/mobile banking credentials or give out your debit card and PIN numbers, you’re authorizing access to your accounts and any transactions that may take place.
To make matters worse, the fraudster may have enough information to withdraw additional funds from your account not related to your “job” or open new deposit accounts, lines of credit or loans in your name.
And if the login credentials you provided are similar to your other online accounts, they may be able to figure out how to access those as well.
What should you do if you’ve been the victim of a job scam?
If you’ve been the victim of a job scam, consider closing your existing accounts to prevent additional fraudulent activity. Be sure to consult your financial institution before taking this action.
It’s also a good idea to update your user names and passwords for all your online accounts to prevent unauthorized access. And freezing your credit by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies or ChexSystems may help prevent new credit accounts from being created in your name. You can also monitor your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com to see if any new accounts have been opened.
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Published February 28, 2019
Having your email account hacked and receiving hundreds of spam messages is a nuisance. But the consequences could be much more serious if fraudsters use information they gain from your email to impersonate you.
While there’s no foolproof way to keep your account from being hacked, here are five tips to help keep your account secure.
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Published January 24, 2019
As more of our daily activities take place online, it’s important to take steps that help ensure our personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Here are a few tips to help protect you and your family in today’s digital world.
Enable multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication requires you to enter multiple pieces of information about yourself before you can access your online accounts. If it’s available, consider taking a few minutes to enable it.
Avoid public WiFi. Using the free WiFi in your doctor’s office, airport or favorite coffee shop to pay bills or take care of some online shopping may seem like an efficient use of your time. But it’s not worth the risk. Public WiFi isn’t secured, making it easier for cybercriminals to hack your accounts and steal your personal information.
Safeguard devices in your home. Computers aren’t the only devices that are vulnerable to being attacked. Any device with an Internet connection, including smartphones, smartwatches and tablets are susceptible. While there’s no foolproof way to protect all your devices, taking these steps can help keep them more secure.
Run the current versions of all software, apps and operating systems. Updates often resolve security vulnerabilities.
Use complex passwords. Consumers often use passwords such as family members’ names and birthdays because they’re easy to remember. But that also makes them easy for criminals to guess. Instead, opt for long, complicated passwords that incorporate upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols, and are tough to figure out.
Credit or debit card fraud can strike anyone. But you can help prevent your account information and personal data from being compromised.
Here are a few ways you can reduce your risk of fraud:
Use credit and debit cards with EMV chips. EMV chips make it more difficult to hack your information. You can still swipe your card if a merchant doesn’t have chip-enabled technology, but you won’t get the security benefits of the EMV technology.
Watch out for phishing scams. Don’t click on emails or texts that look suspicious. Fraudsters use phishing emails to trick you into entering your personal information including account numbers, logins, passwords and more.
Fill out your credit card receipts completely. Don’t leave the spaces on your receipts for “tip” and “total” blank because someone could write in a dollar amount. Instead, put a line through the spaces or write $0.
Shred documents with sensitive information. Criminals have been known to go through trash to obtain enough information to commit fraud.
Review your credit card and bank statements monthly. If you notice any transactions you don’t recognize, immediately report the unauthorized activity.
Even if you take all these precautions, it’s impossible to completely prevent fraud. Fortunately, your Premier America debit and credit cards have zero liability protection, which means if your card is used without your permission, you’re not responsible for fraudulent purchases.
Every year, victims of identity theft spend countless hours working with creditors, and credit reporting agencies to repair the damage caused by identity thieves. Here are five tips to help keep you from becoming a victim.
1. SHRED IT. Shred all documents with sensitive information such as account and social security numbers before you throw them away.
2. BE CAREFUL ONLINE. One of the ways identity thieves access personal information is by hacking online accounts. Free Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop is great, but it can put your personal information at risk. Only use a secure, private Internet connection any time you log into your accounts or submit personal information online. Don’t click on links you receive from anyone you don’t know. And if you’re shopping, only use sites you trust.
3. ENABLE MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION. Multi-factor authentication requires you to input more than one piece of information to verify you’re you. If you have service providers that offer this added security, you should enable it.
4. CONSIDER USING A PASSWORD MANAGER. Password managers generate and store complex passwords for your online accounts that are difficult for hackers to guess. Password managers make it easy to create unique passwords for all your online accounts instead of re-using the same one.
5. UPDATE YOUR DEVICES. It’s easy to click “remind me later” when you see the system update notice on your phone, tablet or computer. Keeping your operating systems, software and apps up to date may resolve known security issues and can help keep your personal information secure.