An alert from your bank definitely gets your attention. One Henderson woman can relate after getting a warned about a bogus charge to her account. But it's what she did next that could have made things worse.
"From Wells Fargo, message: an authorized charge detected," says Barbara Lawson.
She recently received this text message. It just so happens, she had just come home from a doctor's appointment, where they accidently double-charged her co-pay.
"So I thought it had to do with the charges," says Barbara.
She says she clicked on the link, where she was then asked to confirm her identity, by filling in her personal information.
"But then I realized, that something isn't right," says Barbara.
So she decided to call the number on the back of her bank card. That's when she learned she was the target of a phishing scam. Phishing is when thieves send an email or text, posing as a trusted contact, in order to gain your sensitive information. And it's big business.
The FBI says it receives about 284,000 complaints each year involving internet crimes. And last year Americans lost more than $1.4 billion.
"Specific to Nevada in 2017: 4,675 people fell victim. Total losses were $19.6 million. So that's a lot of money," says Phyllis Gurgevich, president of the Nevada Bankers Association. The organization represents all banks doing business in the state.
Gurgevich says banks are using strict security standards and the latest technology to protect your information. But none of that matters if you're not vigilant.
"Everyone should be asking themselves, what can I do to protect myself against phishing scams?" says Gurgevich.
She says if you're contacted by your bank and you didn't initiate that contact, then do exactly what Barbara did. Call the bank yourself to confirm what's going on. Don't be so alarmed, that you don't use common sense.
"Playing on emotions is one of the tools fraudsters will use to get customers to disclose their information. So you just have to let cooler heads prevail," says Gurgevich.
If you are banking online, be sure to look for a security lock. The website should also begin with https, the "s" is for secure. And if you receive a message, never click on any links or open any attachments.
"Be aware that if you do click on a link or visit a website, you could be deploying malware," says Gurgevich.
As for Barbara, she admits to clicking on the link, but she's glad she decided not to provide any information. And now Barbara is taking time to warn others.
"I just don't want anyone to get taken... just be careful if something sounds suspicious," says Barbara.
If you've been the target or victim of a phishing scam, be sure to file a complaint with the FBI.