5 cybercrime red flags | How to tell if you’re getting fake bank notifications

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As technology evolves, so do digital banking services. More and more people now rely on them for convenience.

Image credit: mohamed_hassan (Pixabay)

In 2019, the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) revealed that in the last ten years, there was an increase of 656% in BPI’s enrolled digital users, and a 1,683% increase in transaction volume. The bank expects this number to increase significantly in 2020.

While banks like BPI have security measures in place to ensure that clients are protected from cybercriminals, people also have to do their part in preventing scammers from stealing their money.

Scammers take advantage of the trust between clients and their banks by sending out fake bank notifications via email, text message, social media platforms, or phone calls in order to steal people’s banking information. So, how can you tell if you’re getting fake banking notices? Here are the red flags you have to watch out for.

1. Bad grammar. Most fake bank notifications have terrible grammar. Awkward turns of phrase and typos abound. Banks and other legitimate institutions will not commit obvious grammatical errors in their official correspondence — be it in English or Filipino. 

If you’re unsure whether a notification is legitimate, contact your bank’s hotline to check. You may forward the actual email or text message to help@bpi.com.ph for your concerns specific to BPI. 

2. Maximum pressure. Scammers know that fear and panic can cloud people’s judgment, so they send messages claiming that your account has been or will be locked or deactivated unless you take urgent action. Then they’ll tell you to immediately call a certain number or click on a link where you can supposedly update your information or password. Never call the numbers provided and never click any links sent to you via email, text message, or social media. 

Remember that your bank will not just lock you out of or deactivate your account, so don’t panic and don’t do what these messages say. Contact your bank through its official channels to check on your account.

Image credit: Torsten Dettlaff (Pexels)

3. Unbelievable promises. Fraudsters know that people love to win prizes. As such, there are fake bank notifications which claim that your account has been chosen to receive a certain amount. To get your information, the scammers will require you to verify your identity by calling them or filling out an online form. Do not respond to these types of messages. 

Banks do not randomly give out prizes or cash to their depositors. As a rule, if something is too good to be true, think twice. 

4. Social media connection. Some scammers try to get your banking details by reaching out to you on social media. It’s easy for them to identify you as the client of a certain bank since you have most probably interacted with your bank’s official Facebook page. Scammers will pose as bank representatives and then send you messages through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They’ll make up emergencies that would lead you to give them your banking details. Banks will not initiate any contact with their clients through social media channels, especially for critical matters.

Your online comments may make you vulnerable to scammers who trawl official posts looking for targets in the comments section. If you want to reach out to your bank using social media, a direct or private message is the safer, more secure way to do it.

Pexels (via Pixabay)

5. Scare tactics. More daring cybercriminals will call you and claim to be representatives from the bank who are investigating the suspicious activity in your account. They may even tell you that the police or other law enforcement agencies are involved in the so-called investigation. Banks will not handle such matters through a phone call.

If you have any doubts about the notifications you are getting, call the BPI hotline or your preferred BPI branch. Nothing beats speaking to a bank representative. 

To find out more about various digital scams targeting online banking customers, read our article “Get smart against scammers.”

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