Have you ever received an email from your bank telling you that there’s something suspicious going on with your account? If so, you’re tempted to read the email and respond accordingly, but you have to make sure it’s legitimate first. Many scammers send emails disguised as your bank in an attempt to get your information and steal from your account.
Scary, huh? While identity theft can happen offline as well, the phishing emails are enough to make anyone distrust online banking. However, if you take some precautions, you can spot phishing emails with ease. Phishing emails may contain plenty of grammatical errors, as some phishers don’t speak English as their first language. Look for typos and awkward sentences in the email, and if it doesn’t look professionally written, discard it.
But some emails look like they came straight from the bank. In those cases, you can find out if they’re phishers by looking at their call to actions. Here are five things a true bank email would never ask you to do.
Enter Your PIN
This should be common sense, but many people are so comfortable with their PIN that nowadays it seems to stand for public identification number.! It’s one of the reasons that people suffer from identity theft, and you should never give out your PIN to anyone, no matter if you trust them. When you enter it at a store or at a bank, make sure no one’s looking. And never give it online.
It’s understandable, however, why you may think your bank wants you to enter your PIN. If it’s at risk, they may want you to enter it to change it. The email may tell you to do it ASAP or something bad may happen, like your account being shut down. This will scare you, and you don’t have enough time to think about it.
But a bank won’t do this. So if your email says that you must enter your PIN, don’t do it.
Download a Form and Fill it Out
Another common sense mistake. If you receive a strange email with an attachment, you should never download it unless you check it first. However, if you receive an email supposedly from your bank telling you to download a form, you may think it’s legitimate, and you might click on it without thinking. After all, the file extension looks fine. It’s a PDF, so nothing bad could be in it.
Not quite. Even an innocent extension could include malware, ransomware, or another virus that will steal all your personal info and then take it for your own. Imagine all your passwords being stolen. From your social media to your payment information, your life is taken from you in one fell swoop. Your bank shouldn’t require you to download anything to deal with a situation.
Click This Link and Go to Our Page to Enter Your Personal Information
This one is easier to see why people would fall for it. The email looks professionally written and it even links to their site. The site looks like the place you use to bank online, and all it asks is for you to verify your details. However, never do this. Plenty of phishers trick people by designing a site that looks like the bank’s, and they usually nail it. However, nothing is foolproof. Go to the bank’s real site and see if you can spot subtle difference. Manually enter the link they provide, and see if it’s really on the site. Most of the time, the link the phishers provide and the link to the actual banking site may have differences in the URL. So be on the lookout.
Making You Perform a Test Transaction
We all know the classic Nigerian prince scam. It’s an email coming from a supposed Nigerian prince telling you that he wants to send you a large amount of money, but he needs for you to perform a transaction of a small amount to do this. We all laugh at this and wonder how anyone could fall for it. However, if you get an email from your bank telling you to do it, that’s a different story.
The email may want you to perform a test transaction because they’re switching your account, or because they are having technical difficulties. But your money isn’t going to another account in your bank’s, but to the banks of the phishers instead.
A real bank wouldn’t do this. If they suspect fraud, they’ll suspend your account and then contact you to see if everything you’ve purchased has been done by you. This is one of the reasons that you should contact your bank if you decide to go to a vacation. You may end up with a suspended card otherwise.
This may seem like something that’s common sense, but many people do fall for it. In a YouGov survey, millions of people in Great Britain said they would do a test transaction if their supposed bank told them to do so. But you should never, ever do that.
Telling You to Contact Them Through Phone
Phishers may use different means to scam you that don’t involve the Internet, and one of them is through the phone. It makes sense, after all. Calling them builds a personal trust, but you shouldn’t fall for it. If your bank supposedly tells you to contact them through phone, look at their real website to make sure that it’s really their number. Or look up the number via a search engine to make sure that it’s real. Also, look at your bank statements. Their number will be on there, so contact them using that.
Sometimes, they may call you without even sending an email. Known as vishing, or voice phishing, they’ll pose as someone representing your bank. If they ask you for account details, or tell you to go online, then it’s probably a visher. They may even make you call your bank’s real number while you stay on the line.
Oftentimes, your email service will filter out phishing emails, but some slip through the cracks. If you do see an email supposedly from your bank, and it’s urgent, don’t panic, and instead scrutinize the email, looking for typos or suspicious calls to action like the above five. Ask yourself if the bank even knows your email. If they do, and if you’re unsure if the email is fraud, don’t respond to it. Instead, go to your bank in person and see if there’s anything wrong, or give them a call. If they say nothing’s wrong, then you know that it was a phisher.