Northwest Bank Offers Digital Banking Security Tips Amid Fraudulent Smishing Trend

As data from the Federal Trade Commis­sion (FTC) recently revealed an increase in bank impersonation scams, Northwest Bank, a full-service financial institution offering a complete line of business and personal banking products, shares up­dated digital banking tips to help keep consumers safe.

A recent analysis from the FTC shows that bogus bank fraud warnings were the most common form of text message scams reported to the agency. These copy­cat bank fraud texts resulted in a median reported loss of $3,000 for consumers last year. This type of company impersonation scam also accounted for $330 million in overall reported consumer losses in 2022, more than doubling what was reported in 2021.

A common form of bank impersonation, “smishing” is a phishing method via SMS text messaging where fraudsters imper­sonate a reputable company in efforts to deceive customers and collect sensitive personal information.

“These fake bank security text messag­es to consumers may seem legit at first glance, especially if you bank with that institution,” says Brian Jurkowski, vice president, debit cards and ATM manager, Northwest Bank. “The text messages are designed to create a sense of urgency, of­ten by asking people to verify large trans­actions they did not make. Those who respond are connected to a fake bank rep­resentative.”

According to Amylynn Delgado, fraud manager at Northwest Bank adds, “Most financial institutions, including North­west Bank, will never call or text a cus­tomer asking for sensitive information like a username, password or other ac­count information.”

To avoid falling victim to this latest sm­ishing trend, the Northwest Bank security operations team suggests contacting the financial institution directly to verify the authenticity of the text message that is prompting them to take some form of im­mediate action.

It is also wise to consider the following best practices as it relates to secure digital banking:

Be cautious. Phishing scams may look legitimate at first glance, but often in­clude misspellings and grammatical errors. Avoid clicking on links or down­loading files that may come through until the communication has been verified as legitimate from your bank.

Choose unique passwords. Create strong passwords that include phrases and add capital letters, numbers, and symbols to bolster its strength. It is also important to update a password every 90 days and to avoid repeated passwords for different logins.

Use two-factor authentication when available. This safety measure sends a code to a mobile phone number or email for a two-step login process to verify a person’s identity when accessing sensi­tive account information.

Avoid public Wi-Fi and computers. Avoid using public Wi-Fi and computers to access banking apps or any other ac­count that can be susceptible to getting breached.

Sign up for alerts. Get immediate noti­fications when a purchase above a certain dollar amount is made or whenever mon­ey is withdrawn from the account.

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