2020 proved to be more challenging than anyone could have foreseen. And while the pandemic did reveal strength, kindness, and compassion and bring out the best in some people, it also gave scam artists some down time to develop new ways to conduct fraud—which is why it’s so important to focus on fraud prevention early in the New Year. The sophistication of cyber criminals will continue to evolve in 2021, and so will our resolve to keep our members safe and up to date on current scams and crimes.
What so many fraud schemes have in common is the use of social engineering — when a scam artist manipulates someone into divulging confidential or personal information, or performing actions that could lead to fraud.
For example, a scammer may call you, claiming to be from Reliant, in an attempt to trick you into sharing sensitive information. Or, a fraudster may capitalize on recent events, like the rise in unemployment due to the pandemic. The fraudster, claiming to be a “friend,” may convince you to accept fraudulent unemployment funds into your account, and then ask you to transfer those funds elsewhere, to the fraudster.
To help you protect yourself from these and other social engineering scams, I want to remind you of some simple fraud-prevention tactics:
- Remember that Reliant will NEVER call and ask for sensitive information like your credit/debit card PIN, three-digit security code (CVV code), online banking password or mobile validation code. While we may ask questions to verify your identity, we don’t keep members’ card PINs, CVV codes, or online/mobile passwords on file, so we could not use them to help us identify you.
- If something doesn’t feel right about a call you receive claiming to be from Reliant, another financial institution, or a government agency, hang up and call the legitimate number if you know it. In the case of Reliant, use our toll-free number, 800-724-9282.
- Don’t let anyone other than close family temporarily deposit funds into your account—especially if the expectation is that you will then transfer the funds elsewhere.
- Monitor your financial situation regularly. That includes checking your account often, and keeping an eye on your credit at www.annualcreditreport.com. Because of the pandemic, the credit bureaus are offering free credit reports every week until April 2021, instead of once a year.
- Sign up for free Visa Purchase Alerts, real-time notifications via text or email when your card is used. If anyone gets a hold of your card data and tries to make an unauthorized transaction, you’ll know right away.
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft or fraud, it’s important to act quickly. If you suspect your Social Security Number has been compromised, you should contact the three credit reporting agencies to place a freeze on your credit report. If your debit card, credit card, or account information was compromised, or if you would like to place a password on your account (separate from your online/mobile banking password), contact us immediately, and a member of our Member Services team can assist you.
Remember that information security is a shared responsibility. Reliant actively and continually monitors member accounts—but the best way to protect your account is to prevent your information from getting out there in the first place by not sharing sensitive information about yourself or your account. In addition to the tactics listed above, there is also a wealth of fraud-prevention information available for you on our website.
Let’s make a 2021 resolution to work together to protect your personal information and prevent fraudsters from being successful.
As always, thank you for your membership!
President & CEO