This was already a difficult year. Even more so after Hurricanes Laura and Sally.
From southwest Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, people and businesses in many Gulf Coast communities face a long recovery. Unfortunately, it’s times like this when scammers try to prey on the vulnerability of others.
Security experts from Regions Bank are sharing timely advice to help people protect their accounts. First – slow down, and use common sense.
“People will take advantage, if you let them,” warned Jon Kucharski, fraud strategy manager for Regions Bank. “Before you pay a bill, look over the invoice closely. Ask yourself, ‘Did I actually buy this?’ For example, you need to verify transactions. If you suspect fraud, contact your credit card company and your bank.”
Fraud can come from anyone, from any direction: fake charities in search of donations, phony contractors looking for work following storm damage or questionable sources requesting personal or business information.
No doubt, a region used to the storms of life will recover, in time. And at all times, Kucharski and his colleagues recommend these steps to help you stay financially safe:
- If you have damage from a storm, be careful who you hire to do repairs, especially those coming door to door. (Generally speaking, contractors are busy these days and don’t need to canvass for extra work.)
- Don’t pay large amounts up front. A reputable contractor will be able to foot the bill for materials.
- Do not provide personal or company information unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email. Be wary of links in emails.
- Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain, such as .net, biz or one of the non-U.S, country codes.
- Do not send sensitive information over the internet before checking a website’s security.
- At work, be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information. If someone claims to be from a legitimate organization, verify their identity directly with the company.
- Moving forward, install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls and email filters to reduce malicious traffic.
- Don’t just throw away electronic devices that have sensitive information. Keep personal information out of the hands of opportunistic data thieves by destroying hard drives, SIM cards and anything else that could potentially hold sensitive data.
- Keep a backup of key passwords, insurance policy numbers and financial accounts. Ideally, you should store these in a safe deposit box or a fire and waterproof safe.
Even if you haven’t been affected by a disaster, you may want to help others. Again, think before you act.
“Be careful who you donate money to,” said Don Turrentine, Cybersecurity Operations Group Manager at Regions. “Especially for those asking due to a recent disaster – know who’s asking for help and stick with organizations you know, such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way or your local church.”
The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/stopfraud, or speak with your banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.