Amber Savings Bank Warning: A ‘Bank’ Request for Personal Info May Not Be Coming from a Bank

man in hat on phone
Image via Devin Kaselnak at Unsplash.
If a caller who purports to be a bank representative starts asking personal questions, it's time to be especially wary, warns Ambler Savings Bank.

The Federal Trade Commission, in a February 2022 report, presented data that should cause U.S. consumers to sit up and take note: Fraud in 2021 reached a massive $5.8 billion, up 70 percent from the year prior. That loss resulted in 2.8 million U.S. consumers victimized by a scam.

Thousands of these preyed-upon consumers respond to emails, texts, and calls from thieves posing as representatives of a bank or financial institution. These criminals made hay during the pandemic, when consumer trends toward online banking, mobile pay, and debit/credit card use swelled, driven by healthcare-related reductions in in-person purchases paid for in cash.

Consumer Protection from Fraud

To protect consumers from fraud, Anna Bennett, Chief Information Technology Officer at Ambler Savings Bank, provides some commonsense reminders for guarding against crafty swindlers posing as bank employees.

Her advice can be summed up succinctly: Be wary of requests for information outside what legitimate bankers generally inquire about.

Or put more plainly, consumers should attune themselves to information requests that fall under the banner, “Banks never ask that.”

Bennett says, “Banks won’t call, text, or email you to ask for personal identifiers like your account number or social security number. They will never randomly ask customers to do things like clicking on a link or opening an attachment.”

“These are all red flags someone is trying to compromise your accounts.”

Protection Measures

With the truism that knowledge is the best defense against cybercrime, Bennett identifies the most prominent phishing techniques:

  • Text Messages: A text message from someone claiming to be a banker asking the recipient to sign in or provide personal login information is a scam. Banks never ask that.
  • Emails: “Banker” emails that ask recipients to click on a link or provide personal information are likewise suspect. Banks never ask that.
  • Phone calls: Calls asking to verify account numbers — a proprietary piece of information the financial institution should easily have — is an easy indicator of trouble. Again, banks never ask that.

She also lists worthwhile protection measures:

  • Beware of scare tactics. Scammers will make the situation seem urgent, so unsuspecting customers have little time to react appropriately. A bank will not, Bennett asserts, call a client and warn that an account will close immediately if its owner cannot verify its number.
  • Be suspicious if a purported bank contact is asking for personal information. Questions with yes or no responses are generally benign; more than that can be trouble.
  • Diligently monitor accounts. Increased scrutiny is best for very active accounts with quick transactions, such as mobile and online activity.
  • Establish automatic notifications of spending transactions for accounts and credit cards. This safety measure can give immediate information when things may be going awry.
  • Use encrypted internet connections and stay off public WiFi for banking transactions.
  • Be mindful about online activity, especially payment information on a commercial website (such as a retailer’s).

Digital Tools That Can Help

Fortunately, there are now apps and services designed to guard against phishing and fraud. Ambler Savings Bank offers two:

  1. Set Card Controls Through Your Banks Mobile App: The Ambler Savings Bank App allows users to turn cards on or off in an instant and set alerts to help prevent fraud.
  2. Positive Pay for Business Check Monitoring: This automated check and ACH matching service helps prevent payment on fraudulent checks and ACHs before monies ever leaves business accounts.

“Since cyber fraud isn’t going away anytime soon, educate yourself, check your accounts regularly and use tools to protect you and your accounts,” Bennett concludes.

“But most of all, remember: Banks never ask that.”

About Ambler Savings Bank

Ambler Savings Bank is a mutually organized community bank headquartered in Ambler, Pa., with locations in Fairview Village, Limerick, and Bally, as well as several continuing care retirement facilities. Learn more online.