Smartphone in pants pocket with SCAM ALERT on screen

As our modern world leans more and more into streamlining efficiency and speed via technological advances, we need to be viligant in protecting our personal information – especially when it comes to finances. With every passing day, scammers and hackers are coming up with new methods to gain access to our sensitive information without us even knowing.

However, there are a few common ways personal information can be stolen that are preventable if you are aware of and understand the consequences. To help, we’ve compiled a list of common scams, which could put your financial health at risk.

Dumpster diving: This occurs when a person goes through your trash looking for account statements, receipts, credit reports, or any other document containing personal information, which could enable them to steal your identity and commit fraud.

Shoulder surfing: Someone looking to steal your personal information may look over your shoulder while you’re using a computer, ATM, or other electronic device.

Skimming: Thieves looking to steal your credit or debit card numbers use a special device on ATMs and payment devices.

Redirecting mail: A person may fill out a change-of-address form to have your billing statements and account information sent to them.

Pretexting: Someone calls posing as a technical support specialist, sales representative, or even fellow employee to trick you into revealing sensitive information.

Phishing: Similar to pretexting, phishing occurs when a person poses as your credit card company, government agency, or other trusted entity online. Imposters will prompt you to click fake links, visit fraudulent websites, or divulge personal information for their financial gain.

Spear phishing: Rather than randomly sending out thousands of emails with phishing, spear phishers target a specific person by posing as an organization they normally interact with, such as their financial institution, in an email.

Social networking: Criminals use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to steal your identity by sending fake messages or friend requests. They troll your personal profile and posts to glean personal information to answer your personal security questions, while also infecting your computer with malware and viruses.

What you can do to protect yourself
As a rule of thumb, a prevalent, trusted organization such as your financial institution, police, or FBI will never request sensitive information over the phone or email, so it’s vital to understand these attempts are likely scams and to resist offering any information.

  • Pay close attention to your account activity
  • Shred any documents that include account numbers, credit records, etc.,
  • Remember to take sensitive files with you when leaving a financial institution
  • Be aware of your surroundings whenever sensitive details are exposed and visible
  • Protect your social media accounts by using unique usernames and passwords
  • Only accept social media friend requests from people you know
  • Refrain from sharing too much personal information on social media
  • Set your profile to “private,” and do not open messages or links from unfamiliar senders

We’re here to help you stay safe. Visit our security page for more information on fraud prevention and learn how APGFCU can help you.