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Safeguarding Your Finances: Defending Against Fake Websites and Phishing Scams

In this digital age, where online transactions have become the norm, the need for vigilant protection of our personal and financial information has never been greater.

Unfortunately, as technology advances, so do the tactics used by scammers and fraudsters. Attackers employ a variety of methods to deceive unsuspecting individuals, including fake websites and phishing calls/texts impersonating well-known institutions, especially banks. This article aims to raise awareness about these rising threats, shed light on the tactics employed by scammers, and provide valuable strategies for customers to safeguard their information and avoid falling victim to these scams.

Recognize the warning signs

Scammers create deceptive websites that closely resemble legitimate sites. They employ clever techniques, such as utilizing URLs with slight variations or misspellings to trick unsuspecting individuals into entering their personal information.

  • Poor Website Design: Fraudulent websites often exhibit design flaws, including low-quality images, irregular fonts, or outdated layouts. These telltale signs can help you identify potential scams.
  • Unsolicited Communication: Scammers may contact individuals via unsolicited calls, texts, or emails, falsely claiming to be from their bank. They may request sensitive information or urge immediate action. Legitimate banks typically do not reach out proactively to request personal information.
  • Urgency and Threats: To create a sense of urgency, scammers often employ tactics like threatening language or time-sensitive offers. They rely on these tactics to pressure victims into revealing their personal and financial details.

Verify legitimacy

When you receive a suspicious call, text or email, avoid responding directly. Instead, use a verified phone number obtained from your bank’s official website to contact them and confirm the authenticity of the communication.

  • Secure Website Indicators: Legitimate community bank websites prioritize security. Look for “https://” at the beginning of the URL, indicating a secure encrypted connection, and ensure there is a padlock icon in the browser’s address bar.
  • Review Privacy Policies: Reputable institutions maintain transparent privacy policies, which you can find on their official websites. Take the time to review these policies and ensure they align with your expectations.

Strengthen your online security

Create unique, strong passwords for all your online accounts, including your bank’s website. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names. Consider using a password manager to generate and securely store complex passwords.

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA whenever possible. This additional layer of security requires a verification code in addition to your password, making it more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access.
  • Regular Account Monitoring: Stay vigilant by monitoring your bank statements and transaction history regularly. Report any suspicious or unauthorized activity immediately to your bank.
  • Antivirus and Firewall: Install reputable antivirus software and keep it up to date. Enable a firewall on your devices to protect against malware and other online threats.
  • Alerts and Notifications: Amerant Online Banking allows you to set up alerts and notifications when certain events take place affecting your account.  

Report suspicious activity

If you come across a fake website or receive a phishing call/text/email, promptly report the incident to your bank. They will guide you on the next steps to protect your accounts.

  • File a Complaint: Report the incident to your local law enforcement agency and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). By filing a complaint, you contribute to tracking and preventing future scams.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, scammers and fraudsters employ ever-evolving tactics to deceive individuals and compromise their personal and financial information. By recognizing the warning signs, verifying legitimacy, strengthening online security, and reporting suspicious activity, we can collectively combat fake websites and phishing scams.

For additional tips on fraud prevention and maintaining the security of your personal information, click here.

Amerant Editorial Team
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