March is Fraud Awareness Month and this week HRM Partners in Policing are providing citizens with information about vishing, phishing and skimming. All three are forms of fraud that criminals use to steal personal information and/or cash from unsuspecting victims. Knowing about these scams will help you protect yourself.
Vishing involves a caller trying to elicit financial and/or personal information from someone, which may then be used against them. Vishing scam artists want this information so they can gain access to credit cards and/or bank accounts and clean people out.
Phishing is an identity theft scam that arrives via email. The email appears to come from a legitimate source such as a trusted business/financial institution, and includes an urgent request for personal information, usually requesting an immediate update to an account. Clicking on a link provided in the email leads to an official-looking website. Personal information provided to this site, however, goes directly to the scam artist.
These scams seek to create doubt in the recipient’s mind and cause people to act before considering the legitimacy of the request. If you receive any requests like this, contact your financial institution immediately but don’t use the links and/or phone numbers provided in the suspicious email. Always remember that financial institutions don’t communicate with clients about financial accounts/issues in this manner.
Skimming occurs when a machine is set up to capture information on debit/credit cards, either at bank machines or point of sale terminals, when they’re swiped. While the magnetic stripe information alone is valuable to criminals, they’ll also try to capture a person’s Personal Identification Number (PIN). They’ll use tiny pin-hole cameras to record the user punching in his/her PIN. Once the criminals have the card information and the PIN, they load other cards with a magnetic strip which enables them to use it as if they had the person’s original debit/credit card.
It’s important for you to know that the suspect requires the card information and the PIN to access your bank account. The following tips will help protect you:
-Never share your PIN with anyone or keep a copy of it in your wallet/purse. Your PIN is considered confidential and should be treated that way.
-Examine your bank statements frequently and note any unusual or unaccounted activity.
-Notify the bank or financial institution if you suspect someone has tampered with your account.
-Change your PIN if you suspect someone has accessed your account.
-Protect your PIN when using bank machines by using the “hover and cover” technique – hover over the bank machine and cover the keypad to prevent someone from observing your key strokes or recording your PIN.
-Change your PIN frequently.
If you suspect a bank machine or point of sale device has been tampered with, notify the bank or police. Also notify the bank if you notice any suspicious activity near bank machines.