You may have noticed that over the past year, scammers have used just about every thinkable and unthinkable method to get people to reveal their account information and steal their funds. They use calls, e-mails and other tools to force their way into our lives with a single purpose – to take us by surprise and use our confusion to steal money or personal data. That's why Finance Latvia Association has put together a list of these 8 key tips to help you avoid being caught in scammers’ traps.
1. Never reveal you bank password or Smart-ID codes, no matter how demanding the requests are. Do not enter your codes anywhere unless you yourself have initiated the action requesting approval. You must realise that this is the information protecting your money and identity in the digital environment. “Currently, we have information of scammers calling and asking people to give out their bank card information or internet banking data, often pretending to be a representative of one of the banks or Smart-ID. They use technologies to fake their phone numbers so that a different number or the name of a company appears on the call screen. That's why it pays off to be careful and remember one critical thing: your bank will never call and ask you to provide information about your payment card, your internet banking login number or ask you to enter Smart-ID codes,” says Head of Swedbank's Customer Service Department Vadims Frolovs.
2. Never give in to rush, aggression, or other psychological manipulations used by scammers. In these cases you should disconnect immediately. Remain vigilant when returning the phone calls of strangers.
3. If a conversation or an offer sounds suspicious or leaves room for doubt, terminate the call and call your bank's official phone number. Tell the bank employee everything, and he or she will tell you whether the call was a fraud attempt and inform you on what to do next. For instance, a caller who doesn't speak Latvian while pretending to be a representative of a Latvian organisation or company is definitely a red flag.
4. If you receive an unexpected email, make sure to check who the actual sender is. A message may appear as official communication from your bank, while a closer look will reveal that it has been sent from a fake address.
“A common bait used by scammers is an invitation to update your data. The purpose of this scheme is to convince people to share valuable data, such as bank card details, under the pretext of verifying your identity and updating your information. Such e-mails are constructed to give the impression that they have been sent by an institution you trust (banks, the State Revenue Service, etc.). So, always make sure that the sender's e-mail address corresponds to the authority which the letter is supposed to be from, and check whether any additional letters or numbers have sneaked in. The same should apply to hyperlinks included in e-mails. Check if these are related to the authority on whose behalf the letter was sent. If the e-mail appears suspicious, delete it and report the fraud. Avoid opening suspicious files, because in some cases, even antivirus software may not be able to immediately recognise new malicious content,” says Oskars Blumbergs, Information Security Officer at SEB.
5. Investigate a hyperlink before you click on it. Unless you trust the sender, never click on a link you’ve received in an e-mail or via SMS. “Keep in mind that a bank will never send you an online banking link via SMS. Similarly, when entering access codes on the internet bank, pay attention to the address of the website. If the name of the address is not "seb.lv", "swedbank.lv" or the official website of your bank, do not enter your access codes,” emphasises Oskars Blumbergs.
6. When someone offers you investment options with low risk and large profit, you can be sure that you are being deceived. They don't say “there's no such thing as a free lunch” for nothing. The rule of thumb is – high returns always come with a high risk. An easy way to make sure you’ve received a genuine offer is to Google the company and the investment. “Make sure to check Latvia’s Financial and Market Capital website which lists licensed investment service providers," adds Vadims Frolovs.
7. Check up on your outgoing payments on a regular basis. Set up push notifications to be notified of changes in your account balance or simply check your balance as often as you can to spot suspicious transactions as soon as possible. This way, you won't be surprised by misleading information regarding activities in your account, as you’ll be fully up to speed.
8. Do not listen to anyone instructing you to install software on your smart devices. No bank or investment company employee is ever going to ask you to install additional software on your devices to help you handle investments. Scammers use these to gain access to your devices and, ultimately, your money.
And keep in mind, if you have become a victim of manipulation and have disclosed your internet banking details to a fraudster, contact your bank immediately. Always report potential fraud cases to the police, even if the attempt has been unsuccessful. If you have become a victim of fraud, submit an application to the nearest State Police station or file and electronic application on the e-Government portal Latvija.lv. Send an alert about various suspicious activities to the police using the mobile app Mana Drošība.