Tips to Avoid Coronavirus Scams and Protect Your Money

Unfortunately, fraudsters are finding ways to take advantage of fears related to the coronavirus. Learn about the common scams and what you can do to protect yourself.

Common Scams

  • Phishing and supply scams. Scammers impersonate health organizations and businesses to gather personal and financial information or sell fake test kits, supplies, vaccines or cures for COVID-19.
  • Stimulus check or economic relief scams. There are reports that the government will help to ease the economic impact of the virus by sending money by check or direct deposit. However, the government will NOT ask for a fee to receive the funds, nor will they ask for your personal or account information.
  • Charity scams. Fraudsters seek donations for illegitimate or non-existent organizations.
  • Delivery of malware through “virus-tracking apps” or sensationalized news reports.
  • Provider scams. Scammers impersonate doctors and hospital staff and contact victim claiming to have treated a relative or friend for COVID-19 and demand payment for treatment.
  • Bank/FDIC scams: Scammers impersonate FDIC or bank employees and falsely claim that banks are limiting access to deposits or that there are security issues with bank deposits.
  • Investment scams often styled as “research reports,” claiming that products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19.

10 Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim

  1.  Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams 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 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 and Prevention, World Health Organization and your state’s health department websites to keep track of the latest developments.
  4.  Remember that the safest place for your money is in the bank—it’s physically secure and it’s federally insured. When you deposit your money at a bank, you get the comfort of knowing that your funds are secure and insured by the government. You don’t have the same level of protection 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 that there is a high potential for fraud right now. You should 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 website.
  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 FTC’s coronavirus page at ftc.gov/coronavirus.

 

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Online Security

Bank of Stockton is committed to maintaining the security of your accounts and personal information. We employ the latest in hardware and software technology to protect your personal information and privacy but just like safeguarding your ATM PIN, you are responsible for not sharing your username, password, and other confidential account information with anyone.

On this page, you will find information that will help you protect your account and personal information, as well as help you identify common tactics used to obtain your information.

From StaySafeOnline.org

Keep a Clean Machine

  • Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
  • Plug & scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Lock Down Your Login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.
  • Make your password a sentence: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
  • Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.
  • Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer. You can alternatively use a service like a password manager to keep track of your passwords.

Connect With Care

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in emails, social media posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
  • Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
  • Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

Be Web Wise

  • Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true or ask for personal information.
  • Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

Be a Good Online Citizen

  • Safer for me, more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
  • Post only about others as you have them post about you. The Golden Rule applies online as well.
  • Help the authorities fight cybercrime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.

Own Your Online Presence

  • Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: Information about you, such as your purchase history or location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites.
  • Be aware of what’s being shared: Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
  • Share with care: Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future.

Prevent ID Theft

Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing, most sophisticated crimes in the U.S. NEVER share your username, password or any other confidential information with anyone. Never reply to emails, pop-up messages or phone callers that ask for your personal or financial information. THE BANK WILL NEVER ASK YOU TO DISCLOSE YOUR PASSWORDS, PINS OR CONFIDENTIAL ACCOUNT INFORMATION TO ANYONE. 

While we employ the latest in hardware and software technology to protect you and your privacy, USER AWARENESS IS CRITICAL FOR YOUR PROTECTION. The more often you look at your accounts, the better, since you can recognize legitimate transactions versus something unusual. Together, we will be a formidable team in the fight against identity theft. 

To learn more on how to protect yourself, visit: 

www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/guard/index.html
This 30 minute FDIC online tutorial explains how to guard against Internet thieves and electronic scams. 

https://staysafeonline.org/ 
"Don’t Take the Bait! Avoid Getting Hooked by ‘Phishers’ Trying to Steal Your Personal Information" is another excellent source of information. 

As always, our Customer Service Center is available to help you Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Call 209-929-1600 or 1-800-399-2265.