Three Common Scams and How to Avoid Them

 At any given time, scammers and cybercriminals are devising new ways to access your information and money. At MVB, we implement the strictest security measures to protect our clients—most banks do. That’s why scammers usually try to trick regular people into handing over passwords and other sensitive information, which they can then use to access your accounts.  

These attacks can result in monetary loss, ruined credit, and identity theft. Though there are hundreds of scams out there, most of them are variations on these types of techniques.

Phishing

Phishing is when a scammer poses as someone else (usually through email) to convince individuals to provide sensitive information or download malicious software. 

If you’ve ever gotten an email from a Nigerian prince asking you to send your banking credentials so he can deposit millions of dollars and promising to let you keep a million dollars, you’ve encountered a phishing scam. 

You might wonder who could possibly fall for such an outlandish scam—but phishing scams aren’t always so wacky. Phishing emails may appear to come from someone you know or someone at work. They may appear to come from the FDIC, the government or the bank. Scammers may impersonate brands like Amazon or other retailers and pretend there is an issue with your account or a purchase. 

How to detect a phishing scam: 

Because scammers send these emails in huge batches, the email greeting might be generic, e.g., “Dear MVB Bank customer,”

The email will request that you reply with sensitive information.

The email will have a sense of urgency—the scammer wants you to act before you have time to think about it too much.

 If the suspicious email came from someone you know, create a new email when crafting your response, rather than replying to the suspicious email. Don’t hesitate to call the sender’s customer service line to verify the problem.   

At MVB, we will NEVER ask you for account information through email. 

Phone Scams

According to U.S. News, nearly 1 in 6 Americans have fallen victim to a phone scam in the past year.  

Like phishing emails, phone scammers claim to be a bank or government representative, a debt collector, technical support, a disaster relief fundraiser, or some other party asking for the victim to give their credit or debit card numbers, passwords, or other sensitive information. 

How to spot a phone scam: 

Callers claiming to represent the government, the IRS, or the bank are practically always scammers.

The scammer may ask for payment in the form of gift cards. 

If posing as a tech support worker, they will attempt to “fix” a problem by having you download or install software. Tech support will not call you unprompted.

The caller will want you to take action urgently—right then, over the phone. 

If you’re unsure whether the caller is a scammer, hang up and call back using a phone number found on the entity’s website. 

Card Cracking

Scammers may try to recruit you as a criminal accomplice in a card cracking scam.  

A scammer will entice a victim into sharing their banking credentials to deposit bad checks and immediately withdraw the money from an ATM. The scammer instructs the victim to report that these checks were stolen, so the victim might get reimbursed for the loss. Of course, the scammer convinces the victim to go along with this routine with the promise of giving the victim a cut of the stolen money.  

These scams are easy to spot, as they will ask you to participate in criminal activity to make some quick cash. You shouldn’t agree to such activity. If it seems too easy to be true, it is. Victims are left with bad credit and are subject to identity theft, having given away their bank credentials. Whatever the scammer does with that information, it will be hard to prove it wasn’t you. This may result in bad credit or even criminal charges.

Ultimately, these scams depend on the victim’s ignorance and gullibility. If you know what to look out for, even sophisticated scamming techniques become obvious. Remember, never make a decision in the moment, over the phone, and never hesitate to contact the entity through a phone number on the entity’s website. Finally, listen to your gut. If something feels fishy, it very well may be.

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