By: Elaine Day
June 15, 2023
According to a Federal Trade Commission release from earlier this year, consumers reported losing almost $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, representing an increase of more than 30 percent from 2021.
The FTC data showed that of the 2.4 million consumer fraud reports received last year, imposter scams were the most common, and those engaged via social media reported the highest overall total losses, while those contacted over the phone reported the highest per person losses.
But those weren’t the only outlets that fraudsters used, as online shopping scams, sweepstakes or prize scams, investment scams, and business or job opportunity scams rounded out the top five fraudulent activities experienced by consumers in 2022.
“I think that when customers hear the term ‘fraud,’ they immediately think about people hacking into their bank account and stealing all the funds,” Abby Dela Cruz, First Carolina Bank's Region Manager - Retail Banking (NC & VA), noted. “But I don't think they realize the number of different ways that it can occur and how easy it can be to fall victim to it. We've seen a large increase in not only check fraud, but in wire fraud, mobile deposit fraud, and online banking hacking. There are many different avenues that a hacker or fraudster can take to access those funds.”
In this blog post, we will be discussing a few common types of fraud that bankers at First Carolina have seen recently, and how customers—both consumer and business—can best protect themselves.
ACH & WIRE FRAUD
ACH and wire fraud can occur when fraudsters infiltrate business communications to strategically hack into online banking and disburse the funds themselves or when they send seemingly legitimate instructions to those with the permissions and authority to process payments. These threats can be mitigated by implementing dual control practices, limiting the number of people with transaction access, and completing due diligence on payment or information change requests. Additionally, for ACH fraud specifically, products such as positive pay or fraud filter can assist in monitoring your transactions for fraudulent activity.
ONLINE BANKING FRAUD
Secure online banking starts with a strong password that includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. At First Carolina, we also require customers to utilize two-factor authentication to log in to their online banking. This means that you will need to enter some kind of secondary code in order to gain access, and we will never ask you to share that code. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from First Carolina seeking that code, or if your phone notifies you with a code when you did not try to log in, change your password immediately.
DEBIT CARD FRAUD
Physical precautions for debit cards involve treating the cards like cash and not making your PIN accessible to anyone—this includes being aware of your surroundings when you enter your PIN at an ATM or a store. More common current fraud tactics with debit cards, though, involve phone calls. Do not give your information about your account or debit card number or PIN over the phone; we will never ask for it.
Also, consider splitting your funds between a checking account attached to your debit card and a separate savings account—this is a win-win situation, as money market, CD, or other savings accounts often feature higher interest rates, and if your debit card happens to be compromised, the fraudster will have access to less funds.
TEXT, SOCIAL MEDIA, & EMAIL SCAMS
Hackers can use any combination of these three technologies to try to impersonate other consumers or businesses in an attempt to get you to open a malware link or send money for goods or services that will never materialize. In general, do not click on links from unknown senders, whether those links be in texts or emails. Watch out for misspelled words, email addresses or phone numbers that don’t align with the person or business they claim to be, or offers that seem too good to be true—they probably are.
Ultimately, the common thread to protect against these outlets for fraud is doing your due diligence, whether that’s an extra phone call for verification or extra caution towards a suspicious text.
“First Carolina completes extra steps with our due diligence to make sure that we are verifying requests with our customers to protect them and the Bank from any funds being stolen or hacked,” Dela Cruz emphasized. “Customers can also help themselves and do their part by reviewing their transactions through online banking daily, making sure that there's nothing unusual coming up on their transaction history—and if there is, let us know as soon as possible.”