Virginia Banks Encourage Consumers to Bank Online Safely and Be Cybersecure
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Cyber-attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated and common. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that consumers lost $3.3 billion to phishing schemes and other fraud in 2020, nearly double the losses in 2019. In conjunction with National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, Virginia bankers are participating in the industry-wide #BanksNeverAskThat campaign, which empowers consumers to identify bogus bank communications asking for sensitive information like their passwords and social security numbers.
“Phishing attempts have become even more prevalent during the pandemic, making it more important than ever that consumers learn how to spot scams,” said Virginia Bankers Association President and CEO Bruce Whitehurst. “With help from Virginia banks, we’re teaching consumers how to spot phishing red flags so they can stay one step ahead of the scammers.”
In recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and through its participation in the #BanksNeverAskThat campaign, the Virginia banking industry is also highlighting tips and information to help consumers protect themselves from cyber-attacks. When banking online, Virginia banks recommend that consumers take extra care to protect themselves by doing the following things:
- Monitor your accounts regularly. Make sure that all transactions posted are ones you have authorized. Report any suspected fraudulent or suspicious activity to your bank immediately.
- Look out for strange emails or texts! Don’t respond to emails or texts that claim to be from your bank (or any company) requesting your account details or passwords. Banks will not reach out to you over email or text to ask for your account details.
- Avoid clicking links in emails or texts. It is usually much safer to log in to your bank website manually to ensure you are entering a secure site.
- Change your bank passwords regularly. Avoid using the same password across multiple sites and make sure you are choosing a strong password that is a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using any words or phrases that contain your name, initials, or your birthdate.
- Enable two-factor authentication. Many financial institutions have added a layer of security for account holders. Two-factor authentication requires you to enter an extra verification credential before you can access your account.
- Disable automatic login. Do not allow your web browser to store private username and password information for your online banking websites.
- When available, only use your bank’s official mobile apps. And make sure you download apps from reputable sources such as the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
Bankers provide this additional information to help consumers to be more cybersecure:
- Email fraud. If it seems too good to be true, it is probably fraud. Don’t believe that lottery awards staff or princes from a foreign country will contact you by email or text!
- Fraudulent payments. Be on guard against fraudulent checks, cashier’s checks, money orders or electronic fund transfers sent with a request for you to wire back part of the money.
- Unsolicited offers. Be wary of unsolicited offers that require you to “ACT FAST”.
- Stay up-to-date. Make sure your device is up-to-date with the latest security updates for your operating system – Windows, Apple IOS, mobile phone IOS (Apple, Android, etc.).
- Warnings and errors. Do not trust websites with certificate warnings or errors.
- Beware of email attachments. It’s never a good idea to click on an email attachment or free software from unknown sources. You could end up exposing your system to online fraud and theft.
- Sharing online. Watch how much you share online. The more you post about yourself on social networking sites, the easier it may be for someone to use that information to access your accounts, steal your identity and more. Protect your personal information by maximizing your privacy settings.
- Financial scams. Be aware of disaster-related financial scams. Con artists take advantage of people after catastrophic events by claiming to be from legitimate charitable organizations when, in fact, they are attempting to steal money or valuable personal information.
Consumers are encouraged to report any suspected fraud to their banks immediately. Consumers should visit BanksNeverAskThat.com for more information where they’ll find the #BanksNeverAskThat quiz, videos, phishing red flags, tips and FAQs. For more information about phishing scams and how to stop fraudsters in their tracks, visit www.BanksNeverAskThat.com.
About the Virginia Bankers Association
The Virginia Bankers Association represents banks of all sizes and charters and has served as the unified voice for Virginia’s $881 billion banking industry and its 45 thousand employees since 1893. To learn more about the VBA, click here.