Understanding and Protecting Yourself Against AI-Powered Fraud
Imagine this scenario – you get an urgent phone call from your daughter claiming she has been arrested and needs a large sum of money for bail. It sounds just like her and she urgently needs your help. While it is her voice, the situation seems a little off. In this scenario, you might just be a target of an artificial intelligence (AI) voice cloning imposter scam.
Scammers are increasingly using AI and machine learning to commit imposter fraud. They leverage generative AI to create text, images, video, and audio that closely mimic humans. Grandparents and the elderly have been frequent targets of this type of scam.
It is more important than ever to stay informed and take steps to protect yourself from AI-powered scams.
Voice Cloning and Deepfakes
Scammers use AI to create computer-generated audio and videos known as deepfakes to spread false scenarios. Scammers only need to record you speaking for a few seconds and can often find snippets of your voice online that can be used to clone your voice. They may also take photos and other information from your social media profiles and other websites and use this information to create realistic deepfakes that look and sound just like you. They may pose as relatives or friends over the phone and fabricate a story about an emergency and ask the victim to send money immediately. They will ask for payment in cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency, third-party person-to-person payment apps, or by wire to make it difficult to trace and recover.
These deepfakes are often very convincing and can look and sound just like the people you know. Even savvy consumers may fall victim to these fraudsters.
How to Protect Yourself
- Take time to stop and think. Do not be swayed by the sense of urgency the scammers create. These scammers play on fear, confusion, and your desire to be helpful.
- Do not trust the voice. Always call the person who supposedly contacted you to verify the story and be sure to use a phone number that you know is theirs.
- Strengthen passwords by using two-factor authentication. Be sure to use complex passwords (more than 12 characters with a mix of upper- and lower-case letters with numbers and special characters). Do not reuse passwords across sites or use personally identifiable information such as names, birthdays, etc. Update your passwords frequently.
- Make your social media profiles private and be cautious about how much information you share on social media and other websites. Avoid posting videos on social media that use your voice.
- Use caution when answering calls from unknown numbers. Let unknown calls go to voicemail, then call back to verify the identity using a known and trusted phone number.
- Do not trust caller ID. Scammers often spoof legitimate phone numbers for businesses and individuals.
- Never give your personal information over the phone to someone claiming to be your bank. Hang up the phone and call your local bank branch using phone numbers from your bank statement or debit card to verify any requests.
The Pay Yourself Scam
Send Yourself Money? That’s a Big Red Flag
Scammers are always creating new ways to steal your money. One of the recent scams utilizing peer-to-peer payment services is what’s known as the “Pay Yourself Scam.”
The gist of the scam is that someone pretending to be a representative from your bank or credit union tells you that there has been a fraudulent transaction and in order to stop it, you need to send yourself money with Zelle®. That sense of urgency really works in their favor and gets unsuspecting consumers to act immediately.
The best way to avoid this scam is to know what to look for. Here’s how it unfolds:
- It starts with a text message from a scammer that looks like a fraud alert from your bank or credit union. It looks real and urgent!
- If you respond to the text message and engage the scammer, you’ll receive a call from a number that may appear to be your bank or credit union.
- The scammer pretends to be calling from your bank or credit union and offers to stop the alleged fraud by directing you to send yourself money with Zelle®.
- In reality, the scammer is tricking you into sending money to their bank account.
How the Scam Works
So how are the scammers diverting money to their account?
When you enroll with Zelle® initially or if you switch your enrolled U.S. mobile number or email address to a different account, your bank sends you a security code to verify your identity. In this scam, the fraudster pretends to be calling from your bank or credit union saying that they need this passcode to authorize your payment to yourself. That should be a big red flag to you. Your bank will NEVER ask you for this security code, nor will they ask you to send money to yourself.
If the scammer gets the one-time passcode, they can link their bank account to your U.S. mobile number or email address. Now the money you thought you were sending to yourself is sent directly to their bank account.
Staying Safe in a World of Scammers
How can you avoid being tricked? Always keep these tips front of mind:
Never discuss account numbers, PINs, or other personal information with anyone who contacts you, even if they say they are from your bank or credit union.
- If the person claiming a problem with your account needs your account information, hang up and call the bank yourself.
- Don’t call the number in a text, email, or voice mail. It will connect you directly with the scammers. Always look up the number online or review the number listed on your debit or credit card.
- Don’t click on text message links from people you don’t know, even if it’s pretending to be your bank or credit union. These links can be deceiving and direct you to a fraudulent site or expose your device to malware.
- Your bank or credit union will never ask you to send money to yourself (or anyone else)!
If you detect suspicious activity regarding Zelle®, hang up and contact your bank or credit union directly at the number listed on the back of your bank-issued debit card, in your banking app, or on their official website.
To learn about other scams and ways to protect yourself, visit zellepay.com/pay-it-safe.
How to Outsmart Sophisticated Phishing Scams
You’ve probably heard of phishing. But do you really know what it is – and more importantly, how to protect yourself from falling victim to it? Phishing scams have become very sophisticated, but there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself and keep your personal information safe.
What is Phishing?
Let’s start with a basic description: Phishing is a type of scam where an attacker sends a fraudulent message to trick you into revealing sensitive information – often to access your accounts or commit identity theft. Phishing attempts usually occur through email, over the phone, or via text message. They can be very well-designed to look or sound like legitimate messages from those you know and trust, such as your financial institution, and may contain a link that directs you to a fake website that looks legitimate.
Tip #1: Do not expect phishing emails to be filtered into your Junk mail. Because they are often individually crafted based on information gathered on your social media sites, they can avoid detection from advanced email filters.
How to Detect Phishing Scams
There are ways to avoid phishing scams if you know what to look and listen for. Be on the lookout for these identifying factors:
- Inconsistencies in email addresses. Phishing emails will typically come from an unfamiliar, unusual email address. The easiest way to detect this is to hover your cursor over the email address to reveal the true “from” address. This will usually reveal the email as a fraud and can be done without actually clicking into the email itself. For example, if an email allegedly originates from your financial institution, but the domain name reads something else, it’s likely a phishing email. Delete it immediately.
- Unfamiliar greeting or salutation. Sometimes the informality or other irregularity or other irregularity of a salutation can and should provoke suspicion. Be on the lookout for this type of irregularity in emails and text messages, and perhaps even phone calls. For example, if your financial institution greets you with a nickname you don’t use with your accounts, it’s an indication of phishing.
- Bad grammar, spelling mistakes or unusual language. Legitimate emails and text messages will not have these mistakes. However, they are often found in phishing scams.
- Demand for urgent action. This is key! Emails, text messages and phone calls threatening some type of negative consequence, loss of money, or missed opportunity are key factors in phishing scams. The urgency prompts you to act without thinking and is what ultimately gets intelligent consumers to fall for these well-designed phishing scams. The scams have flaws, but the panic they create can cause consumers to take swift action before errors can be spotted.
- Requests for passwords. Do not respond to a text alert, email, or phone call asking for a password, PIN, or any other security information. Never give this information to anyone, even if you think it’s your bank or credit union. They will never ask you for this information. Ever.
Tip #2: Be wary of long text numbers. If you receive a text message from an unidentified number longer than 10 digits, the odds are high it’s a scam.
More Dos and Don’ts to Protect Yourself
- Don’t click on links in an unsolicited email or text message.
- Don’t use the phone number a potential scammer provided in an email or text message. Look up the company’s phone number on your own and call to verify the authenticity of the message or request.
- Don’t give out personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or Social Security numbers.
- Don’t respond to suspected phishing emails, text messages or phone calls, even if you think it would be fun to tease or trick them. It’s best to avoid responding in any way.
- Do be suspicious of anyone pressing you to act immediately.
Tip #3: Phone numbers and caller identities can be faked to look like the caller ID is from a business you know and trust, like your financial institution. Never trust that the caller ID is accurate. It is best to look up the company’s phone number on your own and call them.
If you detect suspicious activity, contact the alleged company directly. In the case of your financial institution, call at the number listed on the back of your bank-issued debit card, in your banking app, or the bank’s official website.
Learn more about scams and ways to protect yourself by visiting zellepay.com/pay-it-safe.
How to Send Money with Zelle® Safely
Zelle® is a fast, safe and easy way to send and receive money with people you trust, like your babysitter, your fellow PTA mom, your son’s soccer coach, or your coworker. Whether you just enrolled with Zelle® or have been an active user for a while, there are a few tips you should always keep in mind to ensure you are being safe when sending money.
- Only send money to people you know and trust
Money moves fast with Zelle®, directly from checking account to checking account within minutes*. So, it’s important you know and trust the people you’re sending money to.
Why? Because you can’t cancel a payment once it’s been sent, if the recipient is already enrolled with Zelle®. And if you send money to someone you don’t know for a product or service you might not receive (like paying for something in advance), you may not get your money back. Keep in mind that sending money with Zelle® is similar to handing someone cash.
- Beware of payment scams
One example of a payment scam is buying event tickets at a price that seems too good to be true from a stranger and never receiving them. If the seller asks you to use Zelle® to purchase the tickets, you should refuse unless the seller is a person you personally know.
Also, keep in mind that no one from The Bank of Glen Burnie will ask you to send them money with Zelle® as a test or to send money to avoid a fraud event.
Neither The Bank of Glen Burnie nor Zelle® offers a protection program for authorized payments made with Zelle®. So, if you aren’t sure you will get what you paid for, you should use another payment method with purchase protection, such as a credit card.
- Treat Zelle® like cash
Did your friend change phone numbers recently? It’s easy for people to change their phone number or email address. When in doubt, contact your friend to verify the email or U.S. mobile number they used to enroll with Zelle® before you hit “Send.” Another good check point for ensuring you’re paying the right person is to confirm the first name that is displayed for enrolled emails and U.S. mobile numbers.
If a person has already enrolled a U.S. mobile number or email address with Zelle®, you can’t cancel the transaction, so it’s important you get it right the first time.
If you’d like more information on safely using peer-to-peer payments, check out these articles from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
*U.S. checking or savings account required to use Zelle®. Transactions between enrolled users typically occur in minutes.
Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license
Scams are on the Rise: Security Tips to Help Protect Your Bank Account
Beware of scammers that may call or text you while impersonating The Bank of Glen Burnie, the IRS, the government, other financial institutions, or a well-known company. These scammers will attempt to catch you off guard and get you to share personal information in order to steal your identity, money, or both. Learn more about how to spot these scammers, and always remember to handle each incoming phone call or text with caution.
- Your financial institution will never call you to request information you received via text (SMS) or pressure you to reset your online banking log in password or ask you for your one-time passcode.
- Don’t trust caller ID; Caller ID may be modified or spoofed to make it appear to show your financial institution’s name.
- Don’t provide your online banking log in credentials, one-time password, account number, PIN or personal information by email or text or phone call. Using a published phone number, reach out to your financial institution to confirm that the request is legitimate.
- Don’t give information over the phone if you receive a call stating that a transaction is canceled, even if the caller claims to be from your financial institution. Once again, contact your financial institution using a published phone number (on your bank statement or card) to inquire about the transaction.
- Don’t send money to “receive a refund” or “reverse a transfer.” Remember, the bank has your account information.
- If you receive a code to authorize any amount of money (even $.01) to be transferred or another transaction you didn’t initiate, don’t enter the code in your bank app or share it with anyone, even if they claim to be from your bank.
- Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails or texts.
- Scammers often leave messages or send text messages that are calculated to get you to reply or call them back. Messages like “Your account has been compromised. Call us to reset your password.” are used by scammers to convey a sense of urgency. Contact your financial institution using a published phone number. Don’t reply to the text message or call a phone number in the message.
- Don’t give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.
- Don’t download any “troubleshooting” apps because they may allow a scammer to take over your device.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers extensive information including tips for recognizing scams and examples of common scams.
Scammers Can Fake Caller ID Info
Scammers are using fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking they are someone local, someone you trust – like a government agency or police department, or a company you do business with – like your bank or cable provider.
Don’t rely on caller ID to verify who’s calling. It can be nearly impossible to tell whether the caller ID information is real. Click the links below to learn more about how to handle these types of calls.
If you receive a suspicious inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. The Bank of Glen Burnie will never solicit your personal, private information via email or telephone.
If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, tax, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams. Please contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov so that the scammers can be tracked and stopped.
Money Mule Scams
Money mule scams are a type of scam in which criminals use their victims to move stolen funds. Money mule scams can take many forms and commonly involve online dating, work-at-home jobs or prizes.
In a typical scam, the fraudster sends the victim money to deposit into a bank account and then asks them to send some of it to someone else, usually through a gift card or a wire transfer. When the initial check is later found to be fake, victims are on the hook for the full amount.
Consumers can avoid money mule scams by never using their own bank accounts or opening a new account in their name to transfer money for an employer; never paying to collect a prize or move any money out of their “winnings”; and never sending money to an online love interest. If a money mule scam is suspected, consumers should break off contact with the scammer, inform their bank and report the incident to the FTC.
Protect Yourself from Fake Check Scams
Protect yourself from fake check scams with these tips from FDIC Consumer News.
Telephone Scam Alert
In this type of scam, a call comes through with someone acting as if they are from your bank and stating there has been fraudulent use of your debit card (or leading you to believe that by giving you some alleged recent transactions). Often people are so concerned that they give out personal information, assuming what they have heard is true. If this occurs, HANG UP and call your bank to confirm whether they have called you and verify whether there is any problem with your account. NEVER give out your personal/sensitive information on a call you didn’t place [to a company you know to be legitimate].
Protect Yourself from Caller ID Spoofing
Caller ID “Spoofing” occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally, but can be used legitimately, for example, to display the toll-free number for a business.
Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks Bearing the Name “The Bank of Glen Burnie” are Reportedly in Circulation
The Bank of Glen Burnie, located in Glen Burnie, Maryland, has contacted the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to report that counterfeit cashier’s checks bearing the institution’s name are in circulation. The information has also been shared with the Maryland Commission of Financial Regulation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Keeping your personal information safe and secure is a top priority at The Bank of Glen Burnie®.
Protect Yourself from Phishing
“Phishing” is a term that is used to describe one of the fastest-growing types of online fraud. Phishing involves someone impersonating your bank or another trustworthy entity through electronic communications such as emails, text messages, or instant messages.
Resource Guide – Money Smart for Older Adults
This easy-to-read guide published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides information for older adults, family caregivers, and others to help prevent, recognize and report financial exploitation.
Unaffiliated Third-Party Bill Payment Websites
Unaffiliated third-party bill payment websites can create confusion for customers and often result in payment transactions on sites with no actual affiliation to the biller. Customers who use Google or other search engines to locate bill payment options are especially vulnerable to being misdirected to these unaffiliated third-party sites.
FDIC Consumer News: Shopping Online During the Holidays?
During the holiday season, we tend to make a lot more purchases online for travel and gifts, so it’s especially important to be vigilant about protecting your money.