*First National Community Bank’s blog does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, investment or other professional advice. Recipients should consult their professional advisors for advice.

This holiday season, fraud attempts/losses are on the rise. Here are some ongoing and emerging fraud trends to look out for this holiday shopping season:

  1. Vishing And Smishing

Voice phishing, or vishing, is a tactic where criminals utilize phone calls to trick victims into providing personal or financial information by posing as their financial institution or other trusted organizations, as opposed to scam emails that are sent out in phishing campaigns. The same idea goes for smishing where the messages are sent out as scam SMS texts or via various messaging apps, such as WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and others. In both instances, criminals will look to build a rapport with their victim to encourage or coerce them into sharing sensitive details.

Legitimate services like Voice Over IP (VoIP) may be used by criminals to conduct such schemes. The use of VoIP makes it easier for bad actors to create fake numbers that are nearly impossible to track. In some instances, services may have capabilities to allow actors to create numbers local to the victim’s location to make them look more realistic. Actors may also use a method known as Caller ID Spoofing to display a number or identity of an individual or organization that the user already knows and trusts.

Some important tips to be aware of include:

• Stay alert when receiving texts or phone calls from random numbers

• Check phone numbers from the actual store, financial institution, or delivery website. In addition, verify a suspicious caller by hanging up and calling a number from the website of the supposed organization

• Do not click any links from texts you randomly receive

• Take any questions regarding orders or deliveries you conducted to the phone number from the company website or from the initial confirmation email the cardholder received after placing the order

• Cardholders should never reveal one-time passcodes to anybody when no cardholder-initiated transactions or inquiries occurred

• AI Voice creation has come a long way in the last year. If you receive a phone call from a family member who is in immediate danger and they are requesting a ransom or personal information, please attempt to call your family member or other individuals involved with this family member to be sure they are safe

• Urgent and Authoritative behavior are common fraud techniques used to make the victim fall into a state of fear or anxiety

  1. Additional Precautions During the Holiday Season:

• Only use legitimate sites when shopping online (when an offer is too good to be true, it probably is)

• Cardholders should always use a secure network

• Be leery of skimmers

 • Limit what information you share online -- your security questions associated with your accounts can be guessed with personal clues shared by the consumer

• Always review and check your statements and credit reports (consider a Credit Monitoring Service)

• Always make sure your contact information is updated and to respond to fraud alerts promptly

• Keep an eye on your mailbox during the holidays and shred any credit card, bank, or investment statements, including junk mail such as pre-approved offers for credit

• Use different secure passwords on your financial websites, social media apps and mobile devices  

It is especially important to stay vigilant against fraud during the holidays. As YOUR locally owned community bank of choice, the success of your financial future is top of mind. We offer Personal Checking Accounts, Money Market, Personal Savings Accounts, CDs, IRAs, Business Loans, Treasury Management Services, Mortgages, Personal Loans of all shapes and sizes and much more! To learn more about First National Community Bank’s financial solutions, contact us here.

Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.