By Chuck Jones
Today, we offer Ten Tips to help bank customers protect themselves financially during the pandemic (special thanks to the American Bankers Association):
1. Watch out for “phishing” scams, which use fraudulent emails, texts, phone calls and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with, and NEVER give your password, account number or PIN to anyone.
2. Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure or treatment. If there is a medical breakthrough, it certainly wouldn’t be reported through unsolicited emails or online ads.
3. Rely on official sources for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. Visit the Centers for Disease Control, Arkansas Health Department and other resources through the Citizens Bank COVID-19 Resources webpage, at www.thecitizensbank.net/COVID-19-Resources.
4. Remember that the safest place for your money is in the bank – it is physically secure and it is federally insured. When you deposit your money at the bank, you get the peace of mind and sense of protection that you can’t get when your money is outside the banking system.
5. Do some research before making a donation. Be wary of any business, charity or individual requesting COVID-19-related payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card or through the mail.
6. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
7. Recognize and avoid bogus website links. Cybercriminals embed malicious links to download malware onto devices or route users to bogus websites. Hover over suspicious links to view the actual URL that you are being routed to. Fraudulent links are often disguised by simple changes in the URL. For example: www.ABC-Bank.com vs ABC_Bank.com.
8. Change your security settings to enable multi-factor authentication for accounts that support it. Multi-factor authentication (or MFA) is a second step to verify who you are, like a text with a code.
9. Before you make any investments, remember there is a high potential for fraud right now. Be wary of any company claiming the ability to prevent, detect or cure coronavirus. For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, www.investor.gov/protect-your-investments/fraud/how-to-avoid-fraud.
10. Help others by reporting coronavirus scams. Visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov to report suspected or confirmed scams. You can also stay up-to-date on the latest scams by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s coronavirus page at www.ftc.gov/coronavirus.
If you need financial assistance, you can learn more about the Citizens Bank “People First Financial Protection Program” at www.thecitizensbank.net/Covid-19-Help, or by calling 844-350-8512.