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By: Mikel Van Cleve, CFP®
As people become more tech savvy and active online, so too do cyber scammers who are looking for opportunities to access your personal information. That said, there are those who attempt the “oldies-but-goodies” — namely, imposter fraud.
USAA has seen a rise in imposter fraud activity and sent out a notice to members warning them of this trend. Here’s what you need to know.
Imposter scams occur when someone contacts you pretending to be an individual or a representative of an institution that you trust to convince you to send them money or share with them your personal information (which they will then use to try to get to your money).
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported1 that 1 in 5 people lost money to imposter scams in 2021 — $2.3 billion1 — a 92% increase compared to 2020. Military members, veterans, retirees and their families are most often targeted by government and business imposters, according to 2021 FTC data.1
Beware of Imposter Fraud
If you received a call, text or email and provided your password or other login information to someone, and you are not sure it was USAA, call us at 877-762-7256 or visit usaa.com/scams.
USAA and other financial institutions are seeing an increase in imposter fraud scams. Scammers are using social engineering tactics, such as phishing or baiting, and reaching out to members on different platforms, including phone calls, text messages, emails and social media to gain your trust and access to your accounts.
Members are being contacted by bad actors pretending to be USAA. They receive a text asking if they recognize a transaction. This text is not from a USAA phone number. Once the member responds, they are contacted by someone pretending to be a USAA employee and are asked to verify their USAA information. The scammer might even spoof the caller ID to appear as if they are calling from USAA. The information is then used to access and move money out of the member’s accounts.
Similarly, members are being contacted via email with the same types of questions related to “account activity” and attempts to “verify” account details. A quick way to identify a fraudulent email is that it will not include the USAA Security Zone box in the top right corner. In a legitimate USAA email, look for the Security Zone box that will show a personalized stamp, your first and last name and the last four digits of your member number.
If you received a call, text or email and provided your password or other logon information to someone, and you’re not sure it was USAA, call us at 800-531-8722. If you didn’t provide any information, but want to report a suspicious call, text or email, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to report the phone number and message details.
USAA security professionals recommend members monitor their account activity on a regular basis and take advantage of all the tools available to mitigate risks when checking their account on their desktop, smartphone or tablet.
Enhanced authentication measures help strengthen your logon security. USAA offers members a handful of options based on their personal preference.
While USAA uses sophisticated detection processes, we’re most effective in fighting fraud when we work together with our members.
Imposters all have the same goal: to get your money. Posing as an employee of your financial institution isn’t the only way they try. More examples of this social engineering fraud include:
The common thread here is that imposters will attempt to target your feelings and emotions to overrule your logic. Trust your instincts. If something doesn't look, sound or feel right, delete that email or text, or hang up that phone call. If this is your bank, use only the customer service numbers listed at their website or on the back of your debit or credit card.
If you did not provide any information, but want to report a suspicious call, text or email, send an email to email@example.com to report the phone number and message details.
How to Detect an Imposter Scam in Real Life
1You are leaving USAA and being directed to a third party site that is not maintained, owned or operated by USAA. USAA does not control and is not responsible for the site content or the privacy or security practices of third parties. You should read the third party's privacy and security policies and site terms, as their practices may differ from those of USAA.
2You may only activate one security token per account.
3Your phone carrier's data charges may apply.
Not all security features may be available for your device.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
The information contained is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to represent any endorsement, expressed or implied, by USAA or any affiliates.
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