Northwest Bank Highlights National Consumer Protection Week, Provides Tips on How to Avoid Scams and Fraud
March 7, 2023
Warren, Pennsylvania – To mark National Consumer Protection Week, Northwest Bank shares tips for consumers to protect themselves against the growing threats of fraud, scams and spoofs. National Consumer Protection Week (March 5 – 11, 2023) is celebrated during the first full week of March every year to help individuals understand their rights as consumers and to share resources to help protect them from frauds and scams.
Fraud, scams and spoofs have become more sophisticated, with scammers using numerous multifaceted social-engineering techniques to enhance their schemes, including phishing, smishing, baiting and pretexting. During tax season, consumers are more likely to see an increase in these types of activities, especially texts, emails or phone calls from scammers who pretend to represent government organizations such as the Social Security Administration, the IRS or Medicare. Scammers may also pretend to be from a legitimate business where the consumer is likely to be a customer like a utility or tech company, or a charity asking for donations.
“Typically, when scammers reach out to you it is with a false sense of urgency. They will either present a problem or a prize, and will say something like you are in trouble with the government, or you owe money, or someone in your family had an emergency – while some will say that you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it,” said Amylynn Delgado, fraud manager, Northwest Bank. “It’s especially important not to rely on caller ID, as scammers today use technology to spoof the name and number that is displayed on your caller ID. The best thing for a consumer to do if they receive an unexpected call or are unsure of the caller’s legitimacy is to hang up and contact the business using a verified source before taking any further action.”
One offline fraud trend on the rise involves the popular go-to gifting item — gift cards. While most gift cards work fine, some consumers are astounded when they go out to dinner or try to make a purchase only to see their gift card declined because of a zero balance after fraudsters mysteriously drained money off the card. According to Delgado, “it is important to inspect gift cards prior to purchase by examining the card and its packaging. Evidence of tampering may include a sticker overlay to cover the legitimate card number with a stolen card number that the fraudster already possesses.”
To recognize and avoid other harmful attempts from fraudsters, other tips include:
- Block unwanted calls and text messages. To help prevent phishing and smishing risks, take steps to block unwanted calls and filter unwanted text messages.
- Avoid sharing personal or financial information in response to a request that you are not expecting. Honest requests from organizations won’t call, email or text to ask for personal information like your social security, bank account or credit card numbers.
- Be aware of callers who attempt to keep you on the phone for long periods of time. Scammers will try to keep you on the phone to get as much personal information from you as possible.
- Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate and honest inquiries from businesses will give you time to make a decision. As a general rule, anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
- Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with cryptocurrency, a wire transfer service or a gift card. Beware of requests to deposit a check to send money back to someone as well.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is. Beware of attempts by online users who quickly ask you to communicate with them directly and outside of an online marketplace or dating site platform.
- Tell someone. Scammers attempt to isolate and silence their victims by way of extortion, humiliation and fear.
For more consumer fraud protection tips from Northwest Bank, visit: https://www.northwest.bank/security-center/
About Northwest Bank
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Northwest Bancshares, Inc. is the bank holding company of Northwest Bank. Founded in 1896 and headquartered in Warren, Pennsylvania, Northwest Bank is a full-service financial institution offering a complete line of business and personal banking products, as well as treasury management solutions and wealth management services. As of December 31, 2022, Northwest operated 142 full-service community banking offices and eight free standing drive-through facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Indiana. The common stock of Northwest Bancshares, Inc. is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market ("NWBI"). Additional information regarding Northwest Bancshares, Inc. and Northwest Bank can be accessed online at www.northwest.com.