If it ever feels like there’s something “phishy” about an email, text or phone call, it’s important to trust your instincts. Phishing occurs when scammers use social engineering to get you to click on a link or give out personal information (like a password or Social Security number) in order to commit fraud. Don’t take the bait!
By obtaining your personal information through phishing, fraudsters can access your bank account, steal your identity or even gain access to your computer – and with it, all of your files and personal data. We’re here to help make sure that doesn’t happen, which is why we’ve assembled four tips for staying safe from phishing attempts:
Criminals often use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know to gain access and trust, pressuring you to act fast. Do the opposite! Take a moment to think about what they’re requesting and if it could lead to fraud. These criminals often ask for things like passwords, bank account numbers or other sensitive information. If you bite, it could mean malware on your device, money taken from your account, a case of stolen identity, etc.
Go online to look up the contact information for the company (or person) who contacted you. Call the source directly from their confirmed phone number (usually listed publicly online) to verify the outreach was legitimate. If they didn’t contact you, it’s best to let them know that someone has been impersonating them so they can investigate the fraudulent activities on their end.
If you don’t do business with the company that has contacted you, this is a strong indicator that it could be a phishing attempt, especially if the message is poorly written (grammar mistakes, spelling errors, etc.).
Don’t re-use the same username and password for different accounts. This helps prevent fraudsters from gaining access to multiple accounts in the event they do obtain your login information. When possible, you should also consider multi-factor authentication options to keep your accounts extra secure. Multi-factor authentication involves a second step in verifying your identity, such as receiving a text with a temporary access code. If you’ve been hacked, change any compromised passwords right away and avoid using versions of the hacked password for your updated password.
Long story short, if you’re doubting whether the person or outreach is legitimate, it’s always a best practice to take the necessary time to verify if it is indeed a genuine request. As a reminder, many companies, including Gate City Bank, will never ask you for your account number, Social Security number, name, address or password in an email or text message.
If you take care and are mindful of attempts to gain access to your personal information, you can avoid a lot of headache and hassle with identity theft. And remember, you may contact us anytime to verify information. We’re happy to help keep your account information safe!