How to spot red flags for banking scams
There's no shortage of tricks that scammers will use to gain access to your personal and account information. This can lead to everything from identity theft to fraudulent withdrawals from your bank account or unauthorized charges on your credit card.
The best way to protect yourself is to learn to identify common red flags that a scammer is targeting you — and then take action.
And remember: No reputable financial institution — including Synovus — will ever call, email, or text you to ask for your personal information.
Red flags by phone, commonly called vishing:
- You receive a call or text from someone who says they are from a bank you do business with, but they don't have basic information about you that you would expect them to have. Examples include your social security number, your account number, or your mailing address.
- You receive a phone call from someone claiming they are from a bank you do business with, but something doesn't sound right. For example, they might mispronounce the name of the financial institution itself, or the name of a city where the financial institution does business.
- The person who contacts you is not referencing a very specific question about your account and instead is asking you for basic account information. No bank would call you to ask you to verify basic account information (such as your account number, address, or social security number), since they would already have that on file.
Red flags by text, commonly called smishing:
- You get a text that seems to be from your bank, warning you that there's a problem with your account requiring immediate attention. The message asks you to send passwords, authentication codes, personal information, or financial information in response.
Red flags by email, commonly called phishing:
- You receive an email saying it's from your bank asking you to reply with your address, social security number, account number, password, or any other personal information. Any bank that you do business with will already have this information.
- There's a link in the email that you're asked to click on, which then takes you to a page where you will be asked to enter your user id and password. This is most likely a fake website, designed to make you think you're on your bank's website when really you're on a website created by hackers.
In all cases, do not engage and call the customer service number on your credit card, debit card, or printed bank statement. Other tips for protecting yourself against scammers:
- Freeze your credit reports with the big three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That way, if scammers get your social security number, they can't open any credit in your name.
- Sign up for banking alerts to get instant notification any time there's activity on your account. It's the fastest way to find out if your account information has been compromised.