Fraudsters know people are most vulnerable when they are desperate or scared, and they may use crisis and pressure tactics to prey on their victims.
If you received an email from your boss, co-worker, friend, etc., asking you to wire funds, make sure to speak to that person to confirm the request and verify the wire instructions with the legitimate beneficiary by phone to ensure no email was hacked.
Some examples of recent scams are:
- Online purchase scams
- Romance scams, such as online dating sites
- Phone related scams, such as texts, impersonators, apps, QR codes, SIM swapping, and more
- One-time password bots that trick you into sharing authentication codes
- Employment scams
- Cryptocurrency scams
- Hacked emails
Have you been contacted by someone who…
- instructed you not to tell your bank the real purpose for the requested wire transfer?
- requested access to your computer stating they were from Microsoft, Norton Antivirus, Phone, Internet, Cable?
- asked you to provide your Online Banking ID and Password?
- asked you for personal identifying information such as your social security number, drivers license, date of birth?
- pressured you to act right away?
- stated they sent you funds by mistake or overpaid you for something they were purchasing from you, and requested you return the funds back to them?
- stated they would mail you a check to deposit and requested you wire a portion of the funds to someone else?
- claimed to be with law enforcement, IRS, or a financial institution, demanding funds?
- is a stranger who befriended you and has asked you to send money to help them out of a jam?
- asked you to send money to receive an inheritance?
- asked you to send money to pay taxes on lottery winnings?
- claims to be a family member or a friend that has been injured, stranded, robbed, or arrested, and needs you to send funds?
- claims that a recently deceased spouse made a large purchase before their death, and you are obligated to pay for it?
- wants you to invest or fund a new business venture domestically or internationally, and promises high returns?
Do not open suspicious texts or emails or click on links within them. Fraudsters impersonate companies to get consumers to click links and provide personal information. Clicking on links can also infect your device with malware.
A password is the first line of defense against cybercriminals. We recommend creating a complex password that is difficult for others to guess but easy for you to remember. Use a different password for each site.
Monitor your accounts regularly, respond to fraud alerts, and report unauthorized transactions promptly.
Auto-install updates. One of the most important controls to protect against ransomware is updating your devices and apps, including browsers (ie: Internet Explorer, Chrome, Edge, etc).
One of the most common ways that computers are infected with ransomware is through social engineering. Remember to exercise common sense with suspicious email, websites, and other scams. If it seems suspect, it probably is.
Be unpredictable. There are two common password attacks, brute force and dictionary attacks. Both involve trying a sequence of numbers and/or common words like 123456, hence, trying to crack a password using “brute force” or common “dictionary” words. To minimize this type of exposure, don’t make your passwords predictable.
Be creative. Related to being unpredictable, consider creating a phrase and use the first or second letter of each word, or substitute a special character for letters and/or numbers. You can use a password generator which provides creative and secure password options.
Be long. The longer the password, the more possible combination, and permutations of the password there are, and thereby the safer they generally are. However, don’t forget the first two tips, because long common words and sequences of numbers are still easier to crack!
Be selfish. Believe it or not, one of the more common reasons passwords are compromised is because people share their credentials. Quite simply – never, ever share your password(s)!
Be mindful. Think before you click. Phishing is where you receive an email or text message asking for you to confirm your details or take some other action where you need to enter your personal credentials. These types of acts are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can look very legitimate, like an email from someone you know. As a good rule of thumb, unless you make a request, don’t ever enter your credentials. Or, if you have any doubts, contact the organization requesting the information directly.
Be unique. You should use different passwords for different logins – yes, a different password for every login. Having a unique password for all your accounts helps prevent that if or when one is compromised the others remain protected. Pro tip: If you can’t remember all your passwords, consider using a secure password manager.
Use the built-in firewall on your computer.
Turn on automatic updates for ALL software you use, including your internet browser(s).
Use antivirus and anti-malware software and keep it current.
Create a long phrase for your password instead of a short password.
Don’t open suspicious attachments or click unusual links in email, tweets, posts, online ads, messages, or attachments.
Browse safely. Don’t visit illicit sites. They may contain malware or a download that contains malware.
Refrain from streaming or downloading movies, music, books, or applications that are not from a trusted source. Pirated material may include malware.
Avoid malware and viruses by only using external devices you own or receive from a trusted source.
.exe Files: .exe files are executable files - meaning that they can run a program; while .exe files are not inherently malicious, they can be used to install malware on your computer; there's no reason for an .exe file to be shared via email, so if you receive one, you should delete it.
- .exe files can also be disguised in .zip folders - if you receive an email with a .zip, and open the folder to find an .exe, you shouldn't run the file.
- Be careful, some attachments might show the icon for a document, PowerPoint, etc., but they still have the .exe extension.
- Just because a file isn't an .exe, doesn't mean it's not malicious - there have been instances of macro-viruses that hide themselves inside of Office Documents.
Strange "To" Field: if the email has a long, alphabetical list of recipients, or if the "To:" field is blank, then the email is probably illegitimate, and the attachment shouldn't be opened.
Vague Subject Line/Body: if the subject line or the body text is vague, then the attachment probably is illegitimate.
Missing Salutation: most legitimate emails have a salutation.
Poor Grammar/Spelling: legitimate emails are carefully proofread before they're sent out; if the email has a lot of spelling/grammatical errors it's probably not legitimate.
Sense of Urgency: (i.e. - "this attachment will expire in 24 hours”, “you have an unpaid invoice") most illegitimate emails try and create a sense of urgency so that the recipient will download and run the attachment without carefully looking at it.
Remember attackers/bad actors rely on user interaction. Their goal is to try to trick users into opening a malicious document to exploit system vulnerabilities. Stay alert, stay safe!
If you receive a phone call, text, email, or letter with this type of request, it is a scam. If someone tells you they are from The Dime Bank and you are unsure, ask for their name and phone number, hang up, and call us immediately at 570-253-1970 or toll free at 1-888-4MY-DIME (1-888-469-3463). If the call was truly from The Dime Bank, you will reach us by calling us back on our published phone numbers.
Please help us safeguard your information. We’re here to help you in any way we can.
- Legitimate customer, security, or tech support companies will not initiate unsolicited contact with individuals.
- Ensure computer anti-virus, security and malware protection is up to date and settings are enabled to reduce pop-ups.
- Be cautious of customer support numbers obtained via online searching. Phone numbers listed in a “sponsored” results section are likely boosted as a search of Search Engine Advertising.
- If a pop-up or error message appears with a phone number, don’t call the number. Error and warning messages never include phone numbers.
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Criminals will urge the victim to act fast to protect their device or account.
- Do not give unknown, unverified persons remote access to devices or accounts.
- Do not download or visit a website that an unknown person may direct you to.
- Do not trust caller ID readings as criminals often spoof names and numbers to appear legitimate. Let unknown numbers go to voice mail and do not call unknown numbers back.
- Never trust any company-tech or otherwise-requesting personal or financial information.
- Contact The Dime Bank fraud department right away at 570-253-1970, option 2 or visit any of our branches in person to take immediate steps to protect your identity and your accounts.
- Run up-to-date virus scan software to check for potentially malicious software installed by the scammers. Consider having your computer professionally cleaned.
- Change all passwords if the scammer had access to your device.
- Expect additional attempts at contact. The scammers often share their victim database information.
- Keep all original documentation, emails, faxes, and logs of all communications.
- File a police report at your local police station.
- File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. If possible, include the following:
- Identifying information of the criminal and company, including websites, phone numbers, and email addresses or any numbers you may have called.
- Account names, phone numbers, and financial institutions receiving any funds (e.g., bank accounts, wire transfers, prepaid card payments, cryptocurrency wallets) even if the funds were not actually lost.
- Description of interaction with the criminal.
- The email, website, or link that caused a pop-up or locked screen.
- If you must enter a password or PIN on a mobile device in public, stand or sit with your back against a wall.
- Be vigilant of your surroundings and shield your screens whenever possible.
- Strengthen your passcodes. The longer and more complicated the passcodes, the harder they are to shoulder surf.
- Enable parental controls to restrict in-app purchases with additional passcodes that are different from your other access passcodes. Setting up additional passcodes will help prevent unauthorized Apple account changes and other in-app purchases.
- Experian article on shoulder surfing and steps for prevention.
- Wall Street Journal article - personal tech columnist Nicole Nguyen joins WSJ Tech News Briefing host Zoe Thomas to explain how the theft works, what victims have experienced and how iPhone users can keep themselves safe.
- Cloudwards article on how to set parental controls on iPhone and iPad in 2023.