In the wake of COVID-19, consumers are finding themselves online more than ever. Increases in online shopping, banking and even medical appointments became a necessity as safer-at-home restrictions went into effect, and consumers are becoming more comfortable conducting a variety of personal business via the Internet.
While convenience and physical safety are made possible through online interactions, consumers would be wise to understand the risks that come with a more robust online presence, and how the current pandemic could amplify those risks.
There will never be a lack of people out there looking to prey upon others, and the COVID-19 crisis has offered unique opportunities for scammers as our digital interactions increase. Medical related fraud is on the rise, with sites offering fake cures, faulty at-home coronavirus tests, so-called vaccines and even shady wellness advice, all for the purposes of stealing your personal information.
During times of crisis, it's common also to see a rise in price gouging, text message fraud, robocalls and phishing attempts, which are fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity. These are popular tactics used by fraudsters particularly surrounding topics like stimulus payments, healthcare, banking services, elder care, and government fraud schemes.
So what can you do to help keep your online information safe? Here are some tips:
- Take extra precautions when logging into bank and financial accounts. Use complex, unique passwords and don’t allow your browser to save your login information on any computer, even your own. Make sure to log-out after each session, and always enter the website URL manually – links to site pages could be phishing attempts, so always take the extra step to type-in website addresses.
- Verify third-party sites. Be sure that any third-party websites are legitimate before entering in your personal information. If you have any doubts, contact your financial institution directly to verify.
- Do regular check-ins. It’s always a good idea to regularly check your accounts for signs of fraud. Many financial institutions, like Origin Bank, offer services like debit alerts and card controls which allow customers to turn their debit cards on or off from their mobile devices in real time. Origin also offers its personal financial management tool, a free service that helps our customers take control of their finances. With the personal financial management tool, customers have easy access to budgeting, auto-transaction categorization, and debt management.
- Stay updated and protected from viruses. Make sure the software you use is up to date with the latest version, and install anti-virus software that prevents, detects and removes malicious programs you may have encountered in your web surfing. Use of a firewall program can also help to prevent unauthorized access to your PC or laptop.
- Lock devices and check your settings. Smartphones, desktop computers and mobile devices are often shared, and they can carry sensitive account information such as passwords and credit card numbers. Take the time to ensure your devices are secured with a password and locked when out of your possession. It’s also good to go through the settings menus on each of your devices, and even individual apps, to ensure parental controls and privacy settings are set to your level of comfort.
- Use the resources available to you. There are many resources available to help you stay safe when shopping or banking online, many of which are available directly from your financial institution. Additionally, the FDIC published a special edition of the agency’s quarterly consumer newsletter called “A Bank Customer’s Guide to Cybersecurity”, which features tips for preventing online fraud and theft. You can view the guide for free at: http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnwin16.
If you think you’ve been affected by a cybersecurity breach, the first thing you should do is change your password or your login information for the site you think has been compromised. Next, you will need to contact the appropriate entity to inform them of your concerns so that they can help you correct, repair, and monitor your situation.
If your banking information has been compromised, whether via a lost or stolen debit card or through unauthorized online access, contact your financial institution immediately. They will help you resecure your information and can advise you on how to monitor your accounts more actively so that you can detect abnormal behavior and avoid future breaches.
To learn more about the variety of digital security tools and services Origin Bank offers, contact us today.