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Famous Banking Scams to Avoid

Financial scams – they are everywhere! Banking has been a part of people’s lives since 2000 BC, making its presence known in Assyria, India and Sumeria. Nowadays, banking itself has become somewhat of a lifestyle phenomenon, which has taken over a minimal, yet very vital part of everyone’s daily routines. While there may be checks and balances put into place to ensure that all bank accounts are kept safe and well-taken care of, there are still some who are proficient enough in breaking such benchmarks in order to take advantage of innocent people. Scammers are evolving every day, adjusting to the efficiency of bank securities and policies, in the hopes of luring unsuspecting victims to their modus operandi.

According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which is the central bank of the Republic of the Philippines, in its 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey (FIS), the central bank announced that only an estimated 15.8 million adult Filipinos, or 22.6 percent, have bank accounts, while an approximate 52.8 million, or 77.4 percent, remain unbanked. 11.5 percent of them are in the formal banking sector, around 8.1 percent are in non-government microfinance organizations, 2.9 percent are in cooperatives, and 0.3 percent are in non-stock savings and loan associations. Only 1.3 percent of adults have electronic (e-money) accounts. The survey took into account how one person may have several accounts on different platforms.

Now, with all of those numbers in mind, just imagine how much a scammer would take home in tow after a successful scam. The numbers would reach into the thousands, making it somewhat of an amazing feat, albeit a very illegal one. In such case, it is the responsibility of each individual to always be vigilant during their transactions, to always stay alert and be one step ahead of scammers all the time. Only through proper care and precautions would we be able to beat these wrongdoers, and beat them we shall. But in order to do that, we should first identify their strategies, their targets, and possibly their motives. Here are a few examples of banking scams and how we may best avoid falling victim to them:

1)Bank Transfer Scams

You may describe this as a modern take on the old switcheroo trick, varying in examples, yet equally clever and risky to fall victim to. Here are its types:


a) Phone Bank Transfer Scam

Simply put, the scammer will try to get you to transfer money out of your account. According to a website which deals in banking security:

“The way this works is that you’ll get a phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank, alerting you to a problem within your account. This will normally be something security related, such as telling you someone is accessing your account illegally, or has stolen your identity. Their solution will be to ask you to transfer all the money into a ‘safe account’ until the problem is solved. The problem is, nobody is trying to access your account and you’re transferring money directly to the scammers. The money is then transferred very quickly to other accounts around the world.”

b) Internet Bank Transfer Scam

Nowadays, this known as phishing. Through suspicious e-mails, perpetrators may install spyware on your computer to steal your information.


“Others might try to take control of your computer remotely, by telling you there is an issue with your internet connection or you have a virus. Another tactic is to tell you you’re due a refund or compensation, but you’ve been sent too much. You’ll then be asked to transfer back the difference.”


How do you avoid them?

Here’s the thing, banks will never ask for your personal information, either through phone or through e-mails. Of course, over the counter transactions are way different when it comes to this policy, but that’s exactly the point, bank personnel will ask for your information “face-to-face” for verifications purposes, unlike scammers who would prefer to ask for your private information while being anonymous.

Aside from this, banks will never, ever ask for your PIN. That is one of the most crucial information a client may have, hence why it should be kept secret and safe at all times. You should hang up the phone or delete suspicious looking e-mails, overall.


2) Bank Card Scams

This modus operandi involves the scammers getting a hold of your card. They do not even need to keep it for a long time, card skimming or the process of copying your card details is common nowadays, especially for those who are always using their cards to pay for everything.


a) Through Direct Contact with the Card

One thing’s for sure, the most common way to get your card details is when you’re shopping online. There are unsecured websites which only say http rather than https in their website address, which can be attacked and filled with spyware, thus infecting your computer, so scammers can see everything you’re doing online.

Sometimes, crooks will even go as far as to steal your credit or debit cards while they’re in their envelopes. You will then get a phone call from the person with your card asking you to confirm a few details which allows them to start using it. By the time you realize what’s happened, your account could have been emptied, or your credit card maxed out.


b) By Skimming the Card

Scammers will sometimes use ATM and cash machines to clone your bank card so they can use it to steal your identity. A skimming device is also used in this, being attached to the card slot of ATMs, on other instances, they’ll just install miniature cameras attached so they can see your card number and PIN. One major workaround is to cover the keypad whenever you enter your PIN.


How do you avoid them?

First of all, never open or answer suspicious-looking e-mails. There are always red flags, but you’re sure to spot them all in one go. Immediately delete these kinds of e-mails. You should also update your antivirus, just to make sure that no phishing software or malware would get in your PC. You may also avoid visiting websites which only have http in the address rather than https. You should also prevent using public Wi-Fi in coffee shops or shopping malls to shop online or use online in banking.


Red Flags within a Strange E-mail

Remember when we said scammers can use e-mails to trick you into providing them with your information? If you’re still unsure of what to look out for, here are a few major examples:


  • It instructs you to click a link in the message and to log in using your online banking details.
  • It has a very generic composition. First, what do they call you? Scammers will generally use a generic welcome, such as Dear Sir/ Madam or valued customer. Real emails will address you by your name.
  • Look out for the e-mail address. Emails from scammers will come from an address which is either just a series of letters and numbers, or have a spelling mistake.


Now that you know what to lookout for, always remember to approach your local bank and its trusted personnel if ever you were to receive such suspicious e-mails or worse, have already fallen victim to one of the mentioned scams. Remember, being vigilant and alert is the key to beating these scammers to the punch. Be always ten steps ahead of them.

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