||Last Updated: May 12, 2021 - 11:02:39 AM
Nassau, Bahamas – As The Bahamas continues to transition to being a more digital society, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Scotiabank (Bahamas) is urging customers to pay keen attention to online safety and to be vigilant when navigating websites.
The Bank wants customers to take steps to verify the legitimacy of websites and apps – particularly sites used to conduct purchases and other financial transactions. “The pandemic has forced many of us to rely on delivery services and more frequent online shopping, as in-person activities decrease,” noted Scotiabank Bahamas, Managing Director Roger Archer.
With this in mind, the Bank wishes to remind its customers of ways to stay safe and has compiled a list of tips that can help to protect their accounts.
Fraudsters have become more skilled at setting up fake websites that appear identical to legitimate ones and sometimes may even go as far as selling or attempting to sell knock-off versions of the site’s products. An immediate tell-tale sign that a website may be a fraud is that it contains broken links and no back button; and appears to be poorly designed the Bank says.
Missing Contact Information
Customers should check to ensure that retail websites have up-to-date contact information such as a working telephone number that a human representative answers; a legitimate email address that ends in @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @yahoo.com, @[company name.com] or @[company name].org; as well as a mailing address.
“This is important in the event that the customer or the Bank needs to seek redress on a purchase or transaction,” Archer explained. Persons should also look out for information that clearly outlines the company’s sales, return and privacy policies.
Suspicious Requests for Personal Information
One of the most obvious signs that a website is attempting to scam its users is by asking for personal information such as credit or debit card information before allowing the user to browse the website.
With regard to mobile apps, the Bank advises that these are also avenues that are being used to defraud unsuspecting customers. “These fraudsters are sadly using these tools of convenience and taking advantage of the uptick in app usage brought on by COVID-19,” Archer lamented.
Sadly, despite the increased convenience and safety of using apps and other online tools to make purchases and transact business remotely, there are now more opportunities for hackers to steal a person’s identity and banking information,” he pointed out.
Some tips to spot and safely navigate fake apps include:
Observing the name and spelling used on the app
One of the first things a user should be aware of when downloading an app is that the name and its spelling exactly match that of the company. Scammers will create fake apps with names that are so similar (one letter may be incorrect), that a user may not notice.
User feedback and ratings
When downloading an app, there should be a section just beneath where the app’s installment is loading, that displays user reviews, ratings and feedback. This indicates that the app is legitimate enough to have had many other mobile users install and use it, to provide some type of feedback.
There are many apps that need a device’s permission to be installed, specifically when an app needs access to a phone’s gallery, phonebook/contacts, camera and microphone. If while installing an app a prompt appears, asking permission to access any of the above mentioned features on your mobile device, that is a sign that the app is legitimate and knows its purpose.
“However, if an app continuously asks for personal information or has too many pop up ads, users should immediately exit and uninstall the app,” Archer instructs.
While it is difficult to provide an exhaustive list of strategies that scammers may attempt, “generally we are advising that if one or more errors or suspicious content appears while on a website, users should immediately exit the site or app.”
Archer noted that the financial industry has been a key target for scammers who have even created sites that mimic the Banks’ online and mobile channels. “Be very vigilant and utilize extreme caution while surfing the web, we want to urge all our customers and others to be guarded especially when entering credit card and personal information,” he said in closing.
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