Spotlight: Call Spoofing
Call spoofing— when a criminal impersonates legitimate people or organizations to commit fraud— has risen sharply in recent months. Spoofed calls can appear to be from your bank, the IRS, computer and tech support companies, or even the lottery. Fraudsters often use threats and fear tactics in hopes of forcing victims to follow their directions but sometimes appeal to a victim’s desire for money to lead them to give out information or funds. Some calls even attempt to bait victims into repeating a texted code or saying the word “yes” to use as a verbal agreement for fraudulent purposes.
Call spoofing can be hard to detect as the phone number and caller ID might look legitimate, and it is impossible to tell if a phone number is being masked.
How to protect yourself from spoofed calls:
- Do not answer calls from numbers you do not know
- Do not give personal or financial information over the phone
- Do not read any 6-digit codes sent by someone calling you
- Never give a caller access to your computer or online banking
- Do not allow callers to bait you into saying “yes”
- When in doubt, hang up and call back
Trending: Identity Theft
Millions fall victim to identity theft each year. By illegally obtaining a victim’s personal information, fraudsters are able to open accounts, make purchases and charge medical services to their insurance. It can be hard to know your identity has been stolen until unexplained funds withdraw from your accounts, your credit shows unauthorized credit cards, or taxes are filed in your name.
The best defense is a good offense. Here are several tips to protect your personal information from being stolen:
- Do not give out personal or financial information. Make sure any personal information requests are from a legitimate source that you were expecting.
- Avoid oversharing on social media. Fraudsters gather personal information from social media posts, comments and pictures.
- Check your statements regularly. If unexplainable transactions appear in your statements, identity theft may have occurred.
- Shred sensitive documents such as account statements, pay stubs, tax info and other documents with personal information before disposing of them.
- Use strong passwords online. Use long complex word and letter combinations, numbers and special symbols.
- Check your credit report. You can see your credit report free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
Has your personal information been compromised? Contact one of the “big three” credit monitoring agencies (Experian, Equifax and Transunion) and report the compromise at IdentityTheft.gov.
Awareness: Romance Scams
Love is on the minds of many this time of year. It’s certainly on the minds of fraudsters who trick thousands of victims a day with romance scams. Using social media or dating apps, fraudsters strike up a conversation and potentially a relationship. Before long, they are requesting money or access to the victim’s online banking profile. Some don’t realize they are being scammed until after sending thousands to fraudsters.
Romance scams have a variety of red flags:
- Reaching out unexpectedly and expressing romantic interest quickly
- Claiming to live too far away to meet in person due to military deployment or a business trip
- Unexpected money issues or offers to help invest in cryptocurrency
- Requests to send money
You should never send money to someone you meet online. That includes sending wires, cryptocurrency or gift cards. If someone strikes up a friendship or romance and then asks you to send money, even if it’s not supposed to go directly to them, cut off contact immediately.
Lastly, if you suspect the person you’re talking to online might be trying to scam you, talk to someone you trust. Romance scams can be difficult to discuss, especially once they’ve already started, but an honest conversation can help uncover the fraud before money is lost.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, contact our Customer Care Center immediately at (617) 969-4300 and report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.