Banking scams: How to spot them and avoid them

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Let's face it – we live in a digital world. Everything from shopping to socialising happens online. And while technology has made our lives more convenient, it's also opened the door to a whole host of new scams and fraud schemes. Yup, criminals are getting more creative in their quest to separate you from your money. Don’t get caught out! Here’s what you need to know.

Most common scams

Phishing. A phishing attack is when a scammer sends you an e-mail or text message posing as a legitimate institution (like your bank) and tries to trick you into revealing personal information. Always remember this rule: Your bank will never ask you to reveal information like your PIN, your online banking password, credit card number or CVV number.

Identity theft. This is when someone steals your name, address and ID number and uses those details to commit fraud or other crimes in your name.

Card skimming. Criminals attach devices to ATMs or till point machines to steal your card information when you swipe. If your card has been skimmed, you’ll quickly notice strange transactions on your account.

Fake websites. Beware of sites posing as official portals for banks, government institutions and the like. These sites are designed to lure you in and steal your information, or plant malware on your computer. Always double-check the URL of the site and look for the little padlock icon in the address bar to ensure you're secure.

How to spot a scam

It’s too good to be true. The old saying is as true as ever: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Whether it's a suspiciously high-yield investment opportunity or an e-mail claiming you've won the lottery, always approach with caution.

Urgency. Scammers love to create a sense of urgency to pressure you into making a hasty decision. Whether it's threatening legal action or promising a limited-time offer, rather step back, take a deep breath and do your due diligence first.

Poor grammar and spelling. Believe it or not, scammers aren't known for their attention to detail! Keep an eye out for poor grammar, spelling mistakes and awkward phrasing – it’s usually a red flag that something's not right.

How to stay safe

Stay informed. Knowledge is power! Don’t ignore that internal company mail warning you about the latest scam doing the rounds. Read it and be ready. If something smells fishy, don’t be scared to contact your bank directly to confirm its legitimacy. A healthy dose of scepticism is a good thing! 

Use strong passwords. Sorry, it’s time to ditch 1234<name of pet> and secure your online portals with strong passwords. Modern web browsers and operating systems make this relatively easy by generating passwords that are almost impossible to hack, which you can call up using the biometric features on your laptop or phone. 

Be vigilant. Keep an eye on your bank statements and watch out for messages pinging with strange transactions. 22seven gives you an overall view of all your accounts in one place, so it’s easy to keep an eye on banking activity. The sooner you spot a problem, the sooner you can take action to resolve it.

There you have it. When it comes to your money, it pays to be vigilant, sceptical and just a little bit paranoid. Stay safe, stay smart and don't let those scammers get the best of you!