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Online banking allows you to access your money with just the click of a mouse or a tap of your finger. But that ease of entry can also give fraudsters a way into your personal information without you even realizing it. If you’ve ever been a victim of a fraud scam, you know the sinking feeling. That’s why it’s important to create as many safeguards as possible to protect your bank account from fraudsters. To start, educate yourself on what you’re up against. Fraudsters use many different techniques to gain access to your information. This might include:

  • Phishing

This scam uses fake emails and/or websites posing as legitimate and trusted organizations to fool you into divulging personal financial information that is then used to commit identity theft or other types of fraud. Voice Phishing (Vishing) more specifically refers to a scam done over the phone in order to fool you into giving out personal information.

  • Smishing

Fraudsters send a linkless text message claiming there’s been a bank transfer from your account. If you answer the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question in the text message, you then receive a phone call almost immediately from a person claiming to be from your bank’s fraud department. They then ask you for your online banking username and tell you to read back the passcode sent to you via text or email. They may claim this is so they can verify you are the accountholder. When the fraudster enters your username into your banking website, he/she initiates the “forgot password” feature, which generates this passcode text message. By giving out this passcode, you allow the fraudster to reset your password and successfully gain access to your account without your knowledge.

  • Online Banking Scam

In one version of this scam, fraudsters will contact you via text or email claiming there is fraud on your account. The scammer will request remote access to your computer and then advise you to log into online banking. Once they have access, the fraudster will put up a fake page so you cannot see what they are doing and secretly transfer money out of your account via Zelle®. They could also transfer funds between your accounts and then advise you that you have been refunded more than your fraud, and you need to wire the difference back to them. If the scammer makes a transfer while they have access to your computer and online banking, it will not appear to be suspicious activity to the bank, as it is originating from your normal IP address (your device).

These are just a few common scams used by fraudsters to gain access to your bank account. For a full list of scams, visit PlainsCapital Bank’s Common Fraud Scams page to learn more.

Create a Strong Password

Your password can serve as the first obstacle for fraudsters when it comes to protecting your bank account. Creating one that is strong and unique will make it harder for fraudsters to break in. Consider these tips when choosing a password.

  • It should be a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Aim to make it at least 12 characters long. The longer, the stronger.
  • Try not to use personal information, such as a name, birthdate, address, or pet’s name.
  • Avoid common phrases that may be easy to guess.
  • Each of your online accounts should have its own unique password.
  • Change your passwords regularly.

Protect Your PIN

Your Personal Identification Number (PIN) is the code you enter to access your online banking through an ATM or a debit card transaction. You should never share your PIN with anyone. This includes family members, friends, or bank employees. Avoid writing it down, and make sure to choose a number combination that would not be easy to guess. The bank will never ask for your PIN as a way to verify your identity.

Consider Built-In Security for Banking Devices

Many people access their online banking through their phone or tablets—easy access for you, but also easy access for a fraudster. Built-in security options at your fingertips could add a layer of protection when it comes to protecting your bank account.

  • Device Encryption

Encryption changes your data into an unreadable format that can only be accessed with a code or password. By enabling this on your device, you can help protect sensitive information, including your bank account information, if your device were to be lost or stolen.

  • Put a Password on Your Device

This may seem obvious, but if you use a smart phone, you should be using a password to lock your screen when it isn’t in use. This prevents other people from gaining easy access to your device.

  • Remote Wiping

This feature allows you to erase data, remotely, if your device is lost or stolen.

  • Facial Recognition/Fingerprint Scanning

If your device offers facial recognition or fingerprint scanning as a form of access, consider using it. These physical forms of protection are difficult to copy or steal.

Be Cautious of Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks at places such as airports, coffee shops, or hotels pose a risk, especially if you’re accessing personal information like a bank account. These public networks are often unsecured, which means anyone on that network can possibly access your data. It’s better to access your online banking on a secure, private network. You may even consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as added security.

Frequently Monitor Your Bank Account

Keeping a watchful eye on your bank activity will allow you to catch any suspicious transactions quickly. Make it a habit. Review any recurring payments to make sure these are services you still use and authorize. Notify your bank immediately if you see anything suspicious.

Being proactive can help lessen the chance of falling victim to a fraud scam, or worse, a compromised bank account. Keeping your money safe is as important to us as it is to you. PlainsCapital Bank’s Fraud Department provides educational resources for businesses and individuals to help detect and prevent fraud. For more information about our fraud prevention efforts, visit our fraud resources page.