As part of its Safe Banking for Seniors campaign, the American Bankers Association Foundation today released seven new videos intended to help raise awareness about the top scams targeting older Americans. The films provide an overview of scams in general, as well as information on specific scams that commonly target seniors, including family impostor scams, government impostor scams, tech support scams, money mule scams, sweetheart scams and lottery scams.
“Criminals know that older Americans hold approximately 65% of bank deposits in the U.S. and unfortunately, that concentration of wealth often makes them prime targets for financial exploitation,” said ABA Foundation Executive Director Lindsay Torrico. “These videos will bolster bank efforts to safeguard their senior customers and help bank employees, caregivers and family members spot scams before they can do any damage.”
The videos, along with ABA’s existing suite of Safe Banking for Seniors resources, are available for free.
On Thursday, August 18, Apple released emergency fixes for two serious vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited. These vulnerabilities affect iPhone, iPad, and Mac systems. One of these, CVE-2022-32893, is a Remote Code Execution hole (RCE), and the other, CVE-2022-32894, is a kernel code execution hole.
These are serious vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to put malware on your device or take over your device with super-user credentials without your permission.
We highly recommend that all our customers using Apple products ensure these updates are applied to all assets as soon as possible.
The Federal Trade Commission has posted a Consumer Alert regarding utility payments. The Alert notes that only scammers demand utility payments in cryptocurrency.
The scam goes like this: The consumer gets a call or text from someone pretending to be their utility company. The caller or text says the consumer owes money (which is a lie). The scammers then send the consumer a text—sometimes including their utility company’s logo—with a QR code and tell the consumer to scan it at a Bitcoin ATM to make a payment or their service will be disconnected.
No utility company will text about a shut-off, and no utility company will demand payment in cryptocurrency. Those are scams. Before it shuts off service, all real utility companies will notify their customer in writing and offer a repayment plan.
Cyber criminals know that one of the best ways to rush people into making a mistake is by creating a heightened sense of urgency. And one of the easiest ways to create a sense of urgency is to take advantage of a crisis. This is why cyber criminals love it whenever there is a traumatic event with global impact. What most of us regard as a tragedy, cyber criminals view as an opportunity, such as the breakout of a war, a major natural disaster such as a volcanic explosion, and of course infectious disease breakouts like COVID- 19. When there is an immense amount of social media and news coverage about a certain event, cyber criminals know that is the time to strike.
They use this opportunity to create timely phishing emails or scams about the event, and then send that phishing email or launch the scam to millions of people around the world. For example, during a natural disaster, they may pretend to be a charity asking for donations to save children in need. Cyber criminals can often act within hours of a crisis or disaster, as they have all the technical infrastructure prepared and are ready ahead of time. How can we protect ourselves the next time there is a big crisis or disaster, and cyber criminals seek to exploit it?
How to Detect and Defend Against These Scams
The key to avoiding these scams is to be suspicious of anyone who reaches out to you. For example, do not trust an urgent email claiming to be from a charity that desperately needs donations, even if the email appears to be from a brand that you know and trust. Do not trust a phone call claiming to be a local food bank pressuring you to donate. The greater the sense of urgency, the more likely the request is an attack. Here are some of the most common indicators of a charity scam:
How to Make a Difference Safely
To donate in times of need or to help those impacted by a disaster, donate only to well-known, trusted organizations. You initiate the connections and decide who to reach out to, such as what websites to visit or what organizations to call. When you consider giving to a charity, search its name plus words like “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.” Not sure which charities to trust? Start by researching on government websites you trust, or perhaps links provided by a well-known and highly trusted news organization. Donating in times of need is a fantastic way to make a difference, just be sure you are giving to legitimate organizations.
Dr. Jessica Barker is an award-winning leader on the human side of security. She is the co-CEO of Cygenta and a bestselling author. Jessica is on the SANS Security Awareness Summit advisory board.
FTC Charity Fraud: https://consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams/
Social Engineering: https://www.sans.org/newsletters/ouch/social-engineering-attacks/
Top Three Scams: https://www.sans.org/newsletters/ouch/top-three-social-media-scams/
Messaging Attacks: https://www.sans.org/newsletters/ouch/spot-and-stop-messaging-attacks/
Phone Call Attacks: https://www.sans.org/newsletters/ouch/vishing/
Charity Navigator: https://www.charitynavigator.org/
Please remember that The First Bank and Trust Company of Murphysboro will not call or text you to ask for your sensitive or personal information such as username/password for digital banking, a debit card number, social security number, etc. Please do not respond to any texts or calls that request this information.
As the holiday season approaches, millions of people will be traveling. If you are among the many, here are some tips to help keep you cyber savvy and safe.
Bring as few devices as you can. The fewer devices you bring while traveling, the fewer devices that can be lost or stolen. In fact, did you know that you are far more likely to lose a mobile device than have it stolen? Whenever leaving a hotel room, restaurant, taxi cab, train or airplane, do a quick device check and make sure you have all of your devices. Don’t forget to have friends or family traveling with you to double check for their devices too, like children who may leave a device behind on a seat or in a restaurant. As for the devices you choose to bring, make sure you update them so they are running the latest operating system and apps. Keep the screen lock enabled. If possible, ensure you have some way to remotely track your devices if they are lost. In addition, you may want the option to remotely wipe the device. That way if a device is lost or stolen, you can remotely track and/or wipe all your sensitive data and accounts from the device. Finally, do a backup of any devices you take with you, so if one is lost or stolen, you can easily recover your data.
When traveling, you may need to connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Keep in mind you often have no idea who configured that Wi-Fi network, who is monitoring it or how, and who else is connected to it. Instead of connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, whenever possible connect to and use the personal hotspot feature of your smartphone. This way you know you have a trusted Wi-Fi connection. If that is not possible and you need to connect to a public Wi-Fi network (such as at an airport, hotel, or cafe), use a Virtual Private Network, often called a VPN. This is software you install on your laptop or mobile devices to help protect and anonymize your Wi-Fi connection. Some VPN solutions include settings to automatically enable the VPN when connecting to non-trusted Wi-Fi networks.
Avoid using public computers, such as those in hotel lobbies or at coffee shops, to log into any accounts or access sensitive information. You don’t know who used that computer before you, and they may have infected it accidentally or deliberately with malware, such as a keystroke logger. Stick to devices you control and trust.
We love to update others about our travels and adventures through social media, but we don’t always know who every friend or viewer is online. Avoid oversharing while on vacation as much as possible and consider waiting to share your trip until you’re home. Additionally, don’t post pictures of boarding passes, driver’s licenses, or passports as this can lead to identity theft.
If you will be working while on vacation (we hope not!), make sure you check what your work travel policies are ahead of time, including what devices or data you can bring with you and how to remotely connect to work systems safely.
Vacation should be a time for relaxing, exploring, and having fun. These simple steps will help ensure you do so safely and securely.
Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals make fraudulent emails, phone calls and texts that appear to come from a legitimate bank. Every year, people lose hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to these scams. The communication is designed to trick you into entering confidential information (like account numbers, passwords, PINs or birthdays) into a fake website by clicking on a link, or to tell it to someone imitating your bank on the phone.
Email or Text
If you suspect that an email or text you receive is a phishing attempt:
If you receive a phone call that seems to be a phishing attempt:
The Federal Trade Commission has posted an article on its Business Blog, “Reported crypto scam losses since 2021 top $1 billion, says FTC Data Spotlight.” According to the latest FTC Consumer Protection Data Spotlight, since the start of 2021, more than 46,000 people have reported losing over $1 billion in crypto to scams. That’s about one out of every four dollars reportedly lost to fraud during that period.
The Data Spotlight reveals that reported losses to crypto scams in 2021 were nearly 60 times what they were in 2018. Certain features of cryptocurrency may explain why it’s a favorite payment method for crooks and cons. There’s no bank or other entity to flag suspicious transactions before they happen. Crypto transfers can’t be reversed. Once the money’s gone, it’s gone. And most people are still unfamiliar with how crypto works.
Nearly half the people who reported losing crypto to a scam since 2021 said it started with an ad, post, or message on a social media platform. Of those who specified the platform where the scam began, 32% said it was on Instagram, 26% said Facebook, 9% said WhatsApp, and 7% said Telegram. More than half of the reported losses involved bogus crypto investment opportunities.
What the Data Spotlight suggests is that even people who consider themselves tech-savvy can lose money to crypto crooks. Here are three things to bear in mind to protect yourself:
Despite consumers’ varying perceptions of cybersecurity risk, anyone can be the target of hackers looking to steal money, information or an identity. But there is good news: Even the least computer-savvy people can take steps to protect themselves.
Your financial institution should empower consumers with information through cybersecurity awareness campaigns, an important step in the fight against cybercrime. Providing education and promoting good cyber hygiene will mitigate cybersecurity risk for consumers and your institution while increasing the potential for new business through knowledge sharing.
As your institution plans cybersecurity awareness initiatives, consider including the following cybersecurity best practices to enhance protections for your customers or members.
Many websites offer free alerting to let users know when something happens on an account. Encourage your customers or members to take advantage of these alerts to monitor for potential fraud. Many financial institutions and credit card companies also offer alerts on purchases of a certain size or purchases made without the card present. Encourage customers and members to utilize this feature to quickly know if a card number has fallen into the wrong hands and minimize the damage.
Unfortunately, a username and password does not always provide adequate protection against hacking. It is not uncommon for these credentials to make their way to the dark web and into the hands of cybercriminals. To increase protections, many websites that hold important information offer the option for MFA. Instead of logging in with only a username and password, a user must provide a third piece of information to access their account.
Typically, the third piece of information comes in the form of a code sent via text or phone call to a specified number. There are also authenticator applications that serve the same purpose. While MFA may not be needed for every account, it is highly recommended for email accounts, online banking, healthcare accounts and anything that holds sensitive information.
April is National Financial Capability Month, and the FDIC offers several resources to help educate and protect consumers. The FDIC’s Money Smart financial education program can help people of all ages enhance their financial skills and create positive banking relationships.
This suite of 14 self-paced online games is the newest addition to the FDIC’s Money Smart product family and now available in English and Spanish for anyone to access. It covers topics such as: your income and expenses, borrowing basics, building your financial future, and protecting your identity and other assets.
“As the Russian Government explores options for potential cyberattacks against the United States, the Department of Homeland Security continues to work closely with our partners across every level of government, in the private sector, and with local communities to protect our country’s networks and critical infrastructure from malicious cyber activity. Organizations of every size and across every sector should continue enhancing their cybersecurity defenses. Organizations can visit CISA.gov/Shields-Up for best practices on how to protect their networks, and they should report anomalous cyber activity and/or cyber incidents to email@example.com or (888) 282-0870, or to an FBI field office. DHS will continue to share timely and actionable information and intelligence to ensure our partners and the public have the tools they need to keep our communities safe and secure, and increase nationwide cybersecurity preparedness.”
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. It’s important to have strong passwords and change them regularly to help keep your accounts safe. Here are the basics: Don’t use personal information. This includes names of people in your family, your address, or birthdays, since this information can be publicly available to hackers. Don’t use real words. Password cracking tools can process every word in the dictionary until a match is found. Instead use uppercase and lowercase letters combined with special characters such as “&” or “#” Create longer passwords. The longer it is, the better. Try for at least 10 characters. Don’t use the same password for multiple websites. If one website has a data breach and you’ve used that password elsewhere, it’s easier for hackers to steal more information. Change your passwords. Get in the habit of changing them twice a year.
– Michael N. Cripps
President & C.E.O.
WASHINGTON—Today, five federal agencies joined forces to remind the public about the ongoing dangers of romance scams. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) have launched Dating or Defrauding?, a national awareness effort to alert the public to romance scams that target victims largely through dating apps or social media. The campaign is supported by USAGov/Outreach, a division of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Services.
Romance scams are not new, but with the proliferation of online dating apps, social media, and even messaging apps, new types of scams are emerging that target new audiences and have drained victims of millions of dollars. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 2020 was a record year for romance scams. Consumer reports to the FTC indicate that the number of romance scam complaints continued to increase through 2021. A year-over-year comparison through the third quarter showed a 48 percent increase in reported romance frauds.
The joint federal agencies’ initiative shows the public how to recognize the scams before they give any money or assets and provides steps to take if they are victimized. Over the coming weeks, the interagency Dating or Defrauding? awareness campaign will reach the public via social media, local and national media outreach, and public-private partnerships to encourage them to be vigilant when making online love connections.
This effort is spearheaded through the following federal agency offices: CFTC’s Office of Customer Education and Outreach, CFPB’s Office for Older Americans, DHS/ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Treasury’s FinCEN.