Protecting Against Fraud During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Alabama Bankers Association encourages consumers to be vigilant in protecting themselves from fraudulent activity particularly during the latest COVID-19 Coronavirus environment. Scammers will be working around the clock to deceive individuals into providing sensitive, personal information in order to wipe out their bank accounts. These attempts can come through telephone calls, emails or text messages, all of which may appear to be very legitimate.

Here are a few important reminders:

  1. Protect your ATM PIN and frequently change online passwords. Avoid using any form of your date of birth, Social Security number or phone number in your PIN. Do not write these numbers or passwords down and never keep them in your purse or wallet. When using an ATM or keypad, use your hand or body to shield others from seeing your information. For online passwords, don’t use the same one twice and consider using unique, creative phrases as passwords (ex: “fencebarnpasturecow”) which are harder for hackers to decipher.
  2. Be a skeptic. If your bank calls you, call them back. If you receive a call from your bank, or someone saying they’re from your bank, refuse to provide sensitive information. Instead, simply look up the bank’s telephone number from your bank statement or the back of your debit or credit card and call the back directly. Text message scams also occur which are phishing for information. The best practice is to not reply and instead call your bank at a verified telephone number. Calls or text messages may appear—even from caller ID—to be legitimate when, in fact, they may not be.
  3. If your bank emails you, don’t reply. Email is another area where others my try to gain personal information. Follow the same strategy and call your bank at a verified telephone number outside the email, to see if the message is legitimate. Always use a safe, verified telephone number. Avoid sending sensitive information via email. Remember that fraudsters can set up real-looking bank websites with addresses very similar to the actual bank in order to gain your personal information.
  4. Ask your bank about setting up verbal passwords or special alerts on all your accounts. Verbal passwords are used mainly for phone calls to customer service, and alerts can be provided on a number of varying transactions. These serve as extra layers of added protection.
  5. Review your bank statements carefully and contact your bank immediately if you suspect you’ve a victim of fraud.