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Online Fraud May Happen to You, But You Can Prevent It

First Republic Bank
June 17, 2021

  • Did you know that scams are on the rise? Losses related to tech support scams increased 171% from 2019 to 2020.
  • There are a few simple ways you can protect yourself from these types of scams.
  • First Republic Bank is here to help you protect your finances (and your devices) from scammers.
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    Digital devices have become an integral part of our daily lives. Unfortunately, fraudsters know and take advantage of this by engaging in scams that target our devices in an effort to steal our sensitive financial and personal data, and money. In 2020 alone, fraudsters acquired $146 million from victims through tech support fraud: an increase of 171% over the prior year.

    It’s important to remain vigilant to security threats in order to protect your information and finances. Doing so will help keep your digital banking experience as safe as possible.

    What is a technical support scam?

    A technical (“tech”) support scam occurs when fraudsters use phone calls, pop-up messages and emails to trick users into providing access to their computer and sensitive information (such as passwords, credit and personal information). This allows the fraudsters to scare victims into voluntarily paying or withdrawing money, installing malware, opening accounts, and potentially damaging credit.

    How does a tech support scam work?

    Cybercriminals rely on your apathy and ignorance and can take advantage of you if you are not vigilant. Fraudsters take advantage of this opportunity to trick users into gaining access to their computer(s), device(s) and their financial information remotely.

    Scammers try to secure a foothold in your accounts by using social engineering tactics which may include the following scenarios:

    • Pop ups that may say there is an issue with your computer and requiring you to call a phone number.
    • A phone conversation with a fraudster, typically pretending to be a legitimate company helping you resolve the issue.
    • The fraudster tricks you into allowing remote access, often by installing remote access software.
    • The fraudster controls the device and tricks you into believing the issue has been fixed.
    • The fraudster then demands payment for services rendered.

    Being aware of the methods that cybercriminals use is a good first step in protecting your accounts so you can stay secure.

    What kinds of tech support scams should you watch out for?

    Not all tech support scams are created equal. Fraudsters have multiple methods to scam victims. Once you know how these scams work, it becomes easier to understand how to avoid them.

    Pop-up warnings

    A pop-up may appear on your computer screen advising you to call a phone number to fix an “urgent issue” with your computer. This is known as scareware. Scareware is typically generated by malicious extensions in your Internet browser.

    In some cases, the scammers want to secure your personal information (like your account number) so they can use the data gathered to con you into providing access to your financial information. At other times, cybercriminals will initiate a full takeover of your computer through remote access tools such as Any Desk, TeamViewer, GoToAssist, LogMeIn Rescue and Zoho Assist as well as other software programs (where the attacker can remotely control your computer). This is usually launched if the user grants a cybercriminal access to their computer.

    The fraudsters will then attempt to extort money from you for a one-time or subscription fee which can be many thousands of dollars.

    How tech support scams work

    Vishing, also known as a telephone scam, is designed to trick you into providing personal information over the phone to a fraudster pretending to be from an official entity, like a Bank or Government Agency.

    A scammer will call you saying you need to provide your details immediately to solve a technical “problem” you have. Some of these scare tactics may include threatening to suspend your Bank account or saying that you will face criminal charges.

    Providing any information can give cybercriminals the information they need to ruin your credit and/or steal your money.

    How can you stay safe?

    With a few changes in approach, you can sleep easier knowing you have performed extra vigilance and diligence to protect yourself against fraud. Scammers use predictable tactics to convince you to surrender your financial details — with a little know-how, you can stop them in their tracks.

    Hang up — it’s not worth it

    Be cautious when dealing with unsolicited calls. Avoid taking them in the first place, and if that isn’t possible, do NOT give out personal information over the phone. And then block the scammer’s phone number!

    Be sure to take the time to thoroughly verify the caller's claims.

    Malicious individuals rely on putting you under pressure to make poor decisions in the heat of the moment, so don’t play into their hands.

    Don’t click unknown links

    Don’t click on suspicious links or attachments. Legitimate financial institutions will NEVER send you unsolicited messages.

    Avoid sharing too much personal information online

    You should avoid sharing personal information on the Internet (e.g., tagging a personal photo on Facebook with your birthdate, eating your favorite food, or mentioning the name of your pet: any of these might also be answers to your security questions or part of your password/credentials). Scammers purposely seek out this information so they can bypass security protocols.

    Keep your computer and security tools updated

    Keeping your computer updated is one of the best ways to ensure cybercriminals can’t break into and access your data. You should ensure that any security tools like antivirus programs are up-to-date in order to protect your computer against the latest malware threats.

    While fraudsters use a variety of tools and tactics to convince you to provide them with access to your bank account and other personal details, be sure to stay vigilant to protect yourself!

    First Republic Bank can help you protect your finances

    First Republic Bank offers a range of complimentary cybersecurity services to proactively safeguard your accounts and improve your security posture (like our complimentary Internet Security Health Check). To schedule and learn more about these services, please contact your Preferred Banker or Relationship Manager or e-mail InformationSecurity@FirstRepublic.com.

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