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Consumer Protection

Social Engineering, Phishing and Identity Theft

- Brent Milner, Senior Vice President

Social engineering, phishing, and identity theft are tactics fraudsters use to take, steal, cheat and defraud thousands of honest people.   Often, they take advantage of our trust. Many people look at a financial institution as trustworthy and they respect banks.  This respect is often taken advantage of by those looking to exploit others.

Recently, we have seen an increase in scams involving electronic communications, either through email, text messages, or apps. Fraudsters have become proficient in their deceptive practices, and they have become all too good at appearing genuine. To the average consumer social engineering may appear to be a foreign concept and something they would never be susceptible to, however, even the old "Nigerian Scam" still works to some degree when it comes from an email address that resembles their bank or some other known and trusted entity.

We are all familiar with best practices in regards to electronic communications, however, we are also a culture that operates at a high pace, skim reads and spot checks putting us at high risk for fraud. In recent fraud events it was shown that many still respond to text messages which appear to be from financial institutions. Equally as troubling was many responded to phone calls asking for check card information simply because they trust their bank to take care of them when in fact the fraudsters depend on this trust to defraud the customers and steal the bank's reputation. Email, text, private messaging, and even calls are all used as a pathway to defraud. We are all potential victims.

All of this is easy to deter if we simply take a little time and think through situations. We encourage everyone to be aware of their electronic surroundings understanding the "bad guys" are literally all around us.  We live in a full time connected world everywhere we go. Our homes, cars, jobs, gym, dentist office, and even traffic lights are all part of a worldwide network providing information on everyone to anyone.

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