(BPT) - This is the season when many Americans do a lot of online and retail shopping as well as charitable giving. That is why it's important for consumers to be conscious of financial scams to protect their identities, bank accounts and monetary transactions. From check fraud and peer-to-peer digital payments (i.e., Zelle, Venmo, Paypal or CashApp) to imposters posing as representatives of banks, roughly three-quarters of Americans reported being targeted by scams last year.
The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) recommends taking the following steps to minimize the possibility of falling victim yourself:
1. Be wary and slow down! Scammers sometimes send text messages or emails claiming to be a fraud alert from the app or your bank. If you don't recognize the email or phone number, you should proceed with caution. Don't open attachments or click links from unknown sources, even if they say they are coming from your bank. Like many online scams, scammers will sometimes offer products at unrealistic prices to trick consumers, so resist demands to act quickly.
2. Don't give out personal information. If a text message asks you to provide any PINs, passwords, Social Security numbers, account information or any other sensitive information, it is likely a scam. Banks rarely ask for this information over the phone and will never ask for a one-time login code. If you have any suspicions, hang up and immediately call your bank.
3. Triple-check payments. And, if you are sending money over a payment app, check every number to ensure accuracy. Some apps prompt senders to verify the recipient's phone number or otherwise verify their identity. While this is important, double-check the recipient's account information before you click send. Instant payment apps act like cash, so treat it as such.
'Fraudsters and scammers are getting more sophisticated to trick consumers out of their own money. That's why it's so important to be mindful before making a payment to someone, providing any personal information, and especially before giving your bank information to anyone,' CBA President and CEO Lindsey Johnson said. 'Please be vigilant and encourage others to do the same.'
The Consumer Bankers Association and its membership comprising the nation's leading consumer retail banks encourage consumers to protect their own information and money to avoid falling victim to scams and fraud. More information can be found at www.consumerbankers.com.