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Three Tips for Safe Banking and Avoiding Financial Fraud

By Jim Wilcox, Assistant Vice President – Risk Operations, Affinity Federal Credit Union

There’s a good chance you’ve either been on the receiving end of a financial scam (or at the very least, a financial scam attempt), or you’ve heard of someone else’s experience. The truth is, hackers have only gotten more creative and that means these frustrating financial experiences are on the rise.

phishing alert

These hackers aren’t just targeting those 50 and older – a common misconception. Instead, they’re rolling up their sleeves and hitting people where they feel they’ll have most success. Just recently, we learned of a new scam in which hackers were posing as loan companies and calling young students (or former students in the process of repaying) with high urgency.

The risk of being affected by a financial scam is high, but they are avoidable. Here’s how to protect yourself for safe banking:

Tip #1: Be a Skeptic: If it seems too good to be true, it likely is. Money won’t be handed to you for no reason. If someone claiming to be from the “IRS” or “Federal Trade Commission” calls to say that you’ve won money or received a refund, the only thing you should expect is a valid check. If they ask for any banking information, even if they say it’s needed in order to forward you a cash advance, trust us, it’s probably a scam – hang up!

Tip #2: Never Give Away Your Credentials: Your banking credentials are sacred and we never recommend you give them away. By sharing your PIN number or any credentials, you’re handing criminals your hard-earned cash. We see this happen most when individuals meet online and form what seems like a genuine bond. Unfortunately, if you have not met the person and after a while they start to ask about your banking info, always be sure to double check these requests and confirm they’re legitimate (see Tip #1). You can always give us a call at Affinity and run these scenarios by us - we are happy to offer advice.

Tip #3: Don’t Give Up Your Money, Even If It’s a Small Amount: You won’t make money by giving away yours! If someone promises you’ll make a large sum of money by giving a small amount away, it’s for certain a scam. Additionally, don’t give money to those you don’t know well, especially if you’ve never met them face to face. In our experience, hackers will take the time to get to know an individual and then make a small, seemingly harmless request for money. This will snowball. Again, if they so much as mention needing your credentials, walk away. Quickly.

Hackers don’t discriminate. But you can practice safe banking. Be practical, be smart, be vigilant – and rely on your financial institution. At Affinity, we’re always here to help.

Click here to see Affinity's video about how to avoid fraud.

This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition are made.  

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