8 tips to protect yourself from bank fraud and scams. - Blog Popular Bank

04.18.2024 /

8 tips to protect yourself from bank fraud and scams.

Defrauding others of their financial assets remains a common thread throughout history, from snake oil salespeople to modern-day digital fraudsters. Yet, despite advances in bank fraud protection, scammers continue to develop and deploy sophisticated—and successful—methods. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission announced over $10 million in fraud losses in 2023, up 14% from the previous year. Email has become the most commonly used fraud method that scammers implement, but phone calls and text messages are not far behind. 

Although many Americans inevitably encounter fraudulent messages across multiple channels, the safety and integrity of personal and financial information remain a priority. To prevent bank fraud and scams, it’s necessary for you to be able to recognize the signs and identify the proper next steps. Popular Bank offers guidance on commonly used scams and tips to avoid falling victim to them. Using the guidelines can help you confidently deter fraud and maintain your assets. 

Common bank fraud scams

Regrettably, the various methods through which disingenuous persons attempt to retrieve your personal financial information could fill a book. Indeed, scammers in the modern age can target wire transfers, gift card offers, and payment apps alongside dummy debt elimination schemes or fake high-yield investment ventures. Thieves attempting bank fraud may try one or more of the following scams.  


A common form of bank fraud is phishing. This email-based method lures the victim into clicking a link that ends at a sham website. Under the guise of a legitimate company and often accompanied by a persuasive message that stresses urgency, the fraudsters elicit sensitive personal and financial information. Phishing emails can escape spam filters but contain tell-tale characteristics, such as vague details or generic greetings. 


Vishing, named for the Voice over Internet Protocol system that lets you make calls using the Internet, bypasses caller ID systems to dupe victims into believing their hoax. The infamous extended warranty, free vacation, or charity donation may be their reason for calling as a way to motivate individuals to call a 1-800 number and release sensitive information. While calls may appear to stem from a legitimate business, malicious intent remains at the core. 


Comprised of the acronym SMS (short message service) and the term phishing, smishing uses texting as the target for fraudulent communications. The Federal Communications Commission describes smishing in action by identifying the first point of contact as a message from your bank. Again, fraudsters stress the immediacy of clicking a link, calling a particular phone number, or downloading an item to your device. 


With the popularity of QR (quick response) codes, especially during the pandemic, industry experts have begun referencing the term quishing (QR plus phishing) as another method fraudsters use to divest you from your financial assets. Individuals who follow these mock QR codes may visit a dangerous website or inadvertently download malware. Since anyone can create QR codes for free, little deterrence exists for scammers to exploit this tool. 

Popular Bank’s fraud protection checklist.

fraud protection checklist

Making sure your personal information remains uncompromised first requires understanding that you hold the power. Ultimately, most thieves aim for low-hanging fruit and making a quick buck. The harder you make it to obtain your data, the fewer chances you have of falling victim to bank fraud or related scams. 

1. Invest in additional safety measures.

Even the most eagle-eyed have trouble identifying elaborate hoaxes designed to capture sensitive financial information. Modern anti-virus software installed on smartphones and computers can detect and prevent these attacks. Additional security measures include implementing a two-factor authentication protocol or browsing privately with a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your data. 

2. Vary your passwords.

Although tempting and convenient, relying on the exact string of letters, numbers, and special characters for every password makes it easier for scammers to snatch your credentials. Choose varying passwords for your sign in details, especially separating those that grant you access to your finances from those that reveal your latest social media feed. Explore different password managers and select one that suits your needs if you consistently forget your passwords. 

3. Charge your credit card instead of debit.

Credit and debit cards vary across several spectrums, but for consumers, zero-liability protections associated with most credit cards can offer peace of mind when making online purchases. Debit cards do not provide the same protection if you transfer money out of your account. Using your credit card for purchases susceptible to fraud can help you stop the scam at the source if you or your bank catch it in time to help you recover the stolen funds. 

4. Add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry.

Adding your number to the National Do Not Call Registry can help deter thieves from harassing you in attempts to retrieve critical financial data. However, it may take some time before the obnoxious phone calls from out-of-state area codes or with Spam Risk, Scam Likely or similar labels subside. Until your number officially appears on the registry, refrain from answering phone calls from numbers you do not recognize. See more about scam callers and online protection.

5. Limit what you share on social media.

Your mother’s maiden name and Social Security Number probably don’t appear on your social media feed. However, compiling enough information from Instagram or Facebook posts to access your finances doesn’t require an advanced forensics degree. Oversharing can easily provide fraudsters with the information necessary to drain your bank account and max out your credit cards.

6. Carefully connect your devices.

Despite advances in cell phone service coverage, consumers often rely on Wi-Fi hotspots to connect to the Internet. Yet public Wi-Fi networks can provide con artists with access to your most protected data. Whether you rely on anti-malware software on your devices or refrain from connecting to public Wi-Fi altogether, tread cautiously when navigating outside trusted networks. 

7. Monitor your accounts.

Consumers can request a free credit report annually to review their credit entries and dispute errors. In addition, keep a close eye on transactions from your main bank accounts, including savings, checking, investment, and retirement accounts. If you’re concerned about securing your financial data, speak to your bank about additional security measures. 

8. Shred sensitive documents.

The junk mail you throw away—such as credit card or loan offers—represents prime fodder for scammers intent on stealing your identity and racking up the charges. Prevent identity theft by purchasing a paper shredder to shred any unwanted applications and sensitive documents. Investing in a shredder that cuts credit cards can help prevent additional theft. 

How to prevent falling victim to bank fraud and scams.

While you cannot prevent all fraudsters from contacting you, you can establish a plan for handling hoaxes if and when they appear. Once you recognize and remember how to react to scams, you can report the activity and share the information with friends and family to reduce the number of potential victims in each scenario.


Critically review the message or phone call you receive. Note any broken English, spelling mistakes, or oddly worded phrases. Check your bank account for any unusual activity if you suspect any issues. View URLs cautiously to check if they are suspicious. Never click a fake link like myrealbank.com.fakeaccount.com (this is actually fackeaccount.com), and always check for the correct ending of the domain extension (.com, .net, etc.). Remember, Popular Bank will never ask you to provide your debit card number, login credentials, or any other sensitive numbers associated with your account. 


After concluding that you’ve encountered a scam, it’s best to cease communicating with that source altogether. If you’re unsure, verify any information involved in the exchange. For example, if the voice on the other line claims they’re a representative from a company, hang up and speak to that company by calling them directly. Update any passwords that may be compromised, or if you gave any sensitive information, you can freeze your credit with one of the credit bureaus.


The Federal Trade Commission encourages consumers to report fraud to help spread awareness and protect others from falling victim to scams. It’s important to block and report calls or texts on your phone to prevent further communication. To deter further attempts to steal your financial information, report the incident to the local authorities, businesses involved, and the three credit bureaus and alert your financial institution of unauthorized access.

Follow these ATM security tips to help protect your account.

Bank fraud prevention begins with you.

Unfortunately, bank fraud remains a common financial threat for many consumers of all ages. However, implementing the knowledge you’ve gained in this article can help you recognize and refute any attempts to steal your financial accounts before any damage occurs. Share your newfound insight and experiences with your friends and family because you can make a difference the next time you encounter fraud or scams.

If you feel you’re a victim of fraud or notice unusual account activity, contact Popular Bank immediately to help protect your sensitive information.

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