While October is singled out as Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the reality is cyber theft is an everyday threat to banking account security. In fact, according to a recent study by Javelin Strategy and Research, in 2017 nearly 7 percent of consumers became victims of identity fraud—with the amount stolen rising to a record $16.8 billion.
As a response, banks like KeyBank are making state-of-the-art security a priority. From investments in developing tools, technology and training to block and detect security breaches to providing clients with fraud prevention insights and resources, today’s banks are taking a front-line stand against fraudsters.
Still, the best advice in protecting your personal information may come from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. “Know your enemies and know yourself.” Cyber criminals want your personal information so they can commit fraud. Your best safeguard against this happening is to understand your behaviors and how cyber criminals capture your information.
What you can do
Cyber attacks are the fastest growing and fastest evolving forms of identity fraud, and according to Javelin, there are three major trends that evolved out of the 2018 study.
- Account takeovers are growing—tripling from 2016 to 2017 and costing consumers an average of $290 and 16 hours to resolve.
- Online shopping presents the greatest fraud opportunity.
- Fraudsters are getting more sophisticated, with 1.5 million victims of fraud having intermediary accounts—online payments or e-commerce relationships—created in their names.
To fight cyber theft, personal computer safety is paramount. On a regular basis, take time to back up your files to a safely stored external hard drive. Set your computer to automatically update software. Run periodic virus scans and use a firewall to prevent computer intrusions. Scan all devices, including flash drives, for malware and viruses on a regular basis.
When possible, use two-factor authentication. This provides an extra layer of security beyond your username and password. If two-factor authentication is not available, use strong passwords or a password manager to secure your accounts.
Also, watch for attempted phishing, which remains the most prevalent cyber theft tactic, and Smishing attempts. Be leery of bank email requests that require you to provide credential or account information. Your bank won’t request this information by email. Likewise, be leery of texts and phone messages that urge you to urgently contact the sender. Typically, the texts and phone messages connect to an automated response that requires you to input account information. A good rule to live by: never, under any circumstances, reveal verifying personal information (name, social security number, address, date of birth, account numbers, etc.) to anyone who has reached out to you—whether by phone, email or text.
Social media platforms can also place you at risk. Know your social media circle so you don’t provide information to unknown people that can make you the victim of social engineering. Before you hit “Accept,” check the mutual friends listed and confirm relationship with them. Make use of privacy settings so you know who sees your posts. Finally, regularly check your credit report and look for unfamiliar accounts. Take a detailed look at monthly bank and credit card statements. Review all account information, including all transactions, for signs of identity theft or fraud.
Ultimately, you are your best safeguard against identity fraud and identity theft. Being aware that the top targets for fraudsters is account takeover, new accounts and card-not-present (e.g., e-commerce) transactions will help you know what to look for and what precautions you can take.
What your bank can and should offer
Understandably, banks typically do not disclose specific security protocol to anyone, including prospective clients. That said, here are some questions you should be asking when evaluating a bank’s services and efforts to help protect your assets and information:
- Does the bank help to educate clients with cybesafety tips?
- Does the bank offer account alerts so clients are able to track account activity? Clients can choose alert systems that range from checking every transaction to checking any transaction that passes a certain dollar threshold.
- Does the bank offer self-serve ways to lock and unlock credit and debit cards? Being able to lock a card as soon as you realize it’s missing can limit potential damage.
Banking clients are the first line of defense against cyber theft and cyber fraud. Taking time to make regular security checkups can help clients use online banking in confidence.
If you suspect fraud, act
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud, report it to local police and your financial institutions immediately—before further damage is done. You should also check government-run sites, including identitytheft.gov and consumer.ftc.gov, to know all channels that might be compromised.
It’s important to understand that everyone—regardless of financial situation—is a target to cyber criminals, whether you are an active online user or not. With a little work, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.