Guest Editorial by Northwest Bank
As data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently revealed an increase in bank impersonation scams, Northwest Bank shares updated digital banking tips to help keep consumers safe.
A recent analysis from the FTC shows that bogus bank fraud warnings were the most common form of text message scams reported to the agency. These copycat bank fraud texts resulted in a median reported loss of $3,000 for consumers last year. This type of company impersonation scam also accounted for $330 million in overall reported consumer losses in 2022, more than doubling what was reported in 2021.
A common form of bank impersonation, “smishing” is a phishing method via SMS text messaging where fraudsters impersonate a reputable company in efforts to deceive customers and collect sensitive personal information.
“These fake bank security text messages to consumers may seem legit at first glance, especially if you bank with that institution,” said Brian Jurkowski, vice president, debit cards and ATM manager, Northwest Bank. “The text messages are designed to create a sense of urgency, often by asking people to verify large transactions they did not make. Those who respond are connected to a fake bank representative.”
According to Amylynn Delgado, fraud manager at Northwest Bank, “Most financial institutions, including Northwest Bank, will never call or text a customer asking for sensitive information like a username, password or other account information.”
To avoid falling victim to this latest smishing trend, the Northwest Bank security operations team suggests contacting the financial institution directly to verify the authenticity of the text message that is prompting them to take some form of immediate action.
It is also wise to consider the following best practices as it relates to secure digital banking:
√ Be cautious. Phishing scams may look legitimate at first glance, but often include misspellings and grammatical errors. Avoid clicking on links or downloading files that may come through until the communication has been verified as legitimate from your bank.
√ Choose unique passwords. Create strong passwords that include phrases and add capital letters, numbers and symbols to bolster its strength. It is also important to update a password every 90 days and to avoid repeated passwords for different logins.
√ Use two-factor authentication when available. This safety measure sends a code to a mobile phone number or email for a two-step login process to verify a person's identity when accessing sensitive account information.
√ Avoid public Wi-Fi and computers. Avoid using public Wi-Fi and computers to access banking apps or any other account that can be susceptible to getting breached.
√ Sign up for alerts. Get immediate notifications when a purchase above a certain dollar amount is made or whenever money is withdrawn from the account.
For Northwest Bank customers who believe they may have fallen victim to a fraudulent banking scam, the Northwest security operations team encourages customers to call its fraud hotline at 1-877-672-5678. Customers can also report phishing scams directly to information security at [email protected]. To learn more about Northwest Bank’s cyber security tips, visit: https://www.northwest.bank/security-center/.
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Northwest Bancshares Inc. is the bank holding company of Northwest Bank. Founded in 1896 and headquartered in Warren, Pennsylvania, Northwest Bank is a full-service financial institution offering a complete line of business and personal banking products, as well as treasury management solutions and wealth management services. Northwest currently operates 134 full-service community banking offices and eight free standing drive-thru facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Indiana. Additional information regarding Northwest Bancshares, Inc. and Northwest Bank can be accessed online at www.northwest.com.