Fraud & Security Tips

Consumer Protection: How to Avoid Scams and Protect Your Information

    • weeks-jeff-800.jpg
    • Jeff Weeks

      Sr. Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer
      Feb 28 2024

Consumer Protection: How to Avoid Scams and Protect Your Information

Author:  Jeff Weeks, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer

In honor of National Consumer Protection Week, which is March 3-9 this year, let’s explore how to protect ourselves in this digital age. As our lives become increasingly connected, it’s more important than ever to safeguard our information and avoid scams. Here are nine key steps you can take:

1. Be Aware of Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are attempts by scammers to trick you into giving out personal information such as your bank account numbers, passwords, and credit card numbers. Be wary of any emails or text messages that ask you to update or verify your account details.

2. Beware of the Emerging Deepfake Threat

Deepfakes are synthetic media (images, videos, audio) created using AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms. Scammers use deepfakes to convincingly mimic voices, emails, and videos. Deepfakes are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from genuine material. Scammers are using deepfakes to develop convincing emails for phishing to spread malware like ransomware. They are also using deepfakes to cause reputation damage by creating photos and videos of their subjects in compromising (fake) situations to extort money from their targets.

3. Use Strong Passwords

A strong password is your first line of defense against intruders and imposters. Combine uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.

4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication Wherever Possible

Multi-factor authentication is an additional layer of protection beyond your password. For example, when you log onto a site with multi-factor authentication, you may enter your account ID and password, and then the site will text you a code or confirmation that you must enter on the site to access your account.

5. Keep Your Personal Information Secure

Avoid oversharing personal information on social media. This can make you an easy target for identity thieves. Also, be sure to securely dispose of any personal information on paper or digital documents.

6. Keep Your Software Up to Date

Software updates often include patches for security vulnerabilities. Keeping your operating system and applications updated will help protect your devices from threats.

7. Shop Safely

When shopping online, make sure the site is secure and reputable before providing your credit card number. Look for a lock icon in the browser’s status bar and the “https://” in the URL.

8. Be Wary of Online Deals That Look Too Good to Be True

If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of unsolicited emails or pop-up ads offering items at highly discounted prices.

9. Protect Your Data

Back up your data regularly and use security features like two-factor authentication and encryption.

Remember, online protection starts with you. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and, most importantly, stay safe. Happy National Consumer Protection Week!

About the Author

Jeff has been with First National Bank of Omaha for more than 25 years and is currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer. The executive leadership and oversight provided by Jeff in the development, management, and execution of information security for FNBO enables the company’s ability to posture and protect private, personal information, and assets of the company’s clients, employees, and business partners.

The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.