Securing Online Credentials
Who’s the target?
How does it happen?
Online banking, account management, and payment apps are so ubiquitous these days, it’s hard to imagine how we could live without them—our lives are online. This makes it all the more attractive to scammers as a weapon to use against us. Once scammers have obtained a person’s credentials for online accounts, they have access to their life.
One common scam involving online credentials is an imposter scam in which the fraudster poses as a legitimate organization like your credit union or bank. They tell you there’s a problem with your account and they need to know your online banking username and password in order to correct the problem. If you divulge this information to them, they can make transfers and withdrawals in your name within seconds, and the money they steal is often untraceable.
The bottom line is that legitimate financial institutions will never demand that you divulge your online credentials to them. Legitimate representatives will verify you with other information, and they will have access to your account with no need for your online banking passwords. If you ever accidentally divulge a password or PIN to anyone, make sure to change it securely right away and check the account for activity.
- Anyone posing as a representative of a financial institution requests your online credentials over the phone or text message
- They’re telling you there’s a problem with your account that they can only solve it if you give them your credentials
- They’re pressuring you by siting consequences if you do not comply
How can we stay safe?
- Use longer hard to guess passwords and use different ones for different accounts
- Never divulge your PIN, passwords, or online credentials to anyone
- Set up a secure password management system
- When available, utilize multifactor authentication
If you think you have been scammed:
- Contact your financial institutions as soon as possible
- If you’ve given the scammer any of your account passwords or PINs, change them immediately
- File a report on FTC.gov
- Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline (if applicable)