Archive for April 2019

Don’t Take the Bait: New Infographic on Phishing Threat

The American Bankers Association Foundation and the Federal Trade Commission recently released a new infographic to educate consumers on the growing threat of phishing. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report victims lost nearly $30 million due to phishing scams in 2017 compared to $8 million just two years earlier.

In a phishing scam, criminals send an email or a text, or call a victim disguised as a company or person they know. The goal of the phisher is to steal the victim’s money, identity or both by convincing the unsuspecting consumer to click on a link or share sensitive information, such as a password. The fraudsters often pressure victims to act quickly by saying something bad will happen if they do not comply.

“We’re thrilled to continue our collaboration with the FTC to help consumers combat a scam that continues to target bank customers at an alarming rate,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Phishing scams aren’t as obvious as they used to be. The criminals’ techniques have become much more sophisticated, so it’s more important than ever that consumers understand the scam and how they can protect themselves.”

“One of the best ways to combat phishing is to implement multi-factor authentication, which is a second step to verify you are you, like sending a text to your phone with a confirmation code,” said Paul Benda, senior vice president, risk and cybersecurity policy at ABA. “We encourage consumers to use MFA for any of their accounts that support it, especially email and financial accounts.”

The ABA Foundation/FTC joint infographic, released today in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, describes how phishing scams work and provides the following tips for consumers:

  • Check it out.
    • Look up the website or phone number for the company or person who’s contacting you.
    • Call that company or person directly. Use a number you know to be correct, not the number in the email or text.
    • Tell them about the message you got.
  • Look for scam tip-offs.
    • You don’t have an account with the company.
    • The message is missing your name or uses bad grammar and spelling.
    • The person asks for personal information, including passwords.
    • But note: some phishing schemes are sophisticated and look very real, so check it out and protect yourself.
  • Protect yourself.
    • Keep your computer security up to date and back up your data often.
    • Consider multi-factor authentication — a second step to verify who you are, like a text with a code — for accounts that support it.
    • Change any compromised passwords right away and don’t use them for any other accounts.

This is the third joint infographic released by the ABA Foundation and FTC to educate consumers about common fraud schemes. The first two infographics focused on online dating scams and fake check scams.

For more information on phishing scams, visit aba.com/phishing.

Click here to view the phishing infographic.

5 Important Questions When Choosing Your First Home

Moving into your own place can be exciting and frightening at the same time. The American Bankers Association suggests considering the following questions when choosing your own home.

  1. How much money do you have saved up?

    Start with an evaluation of your financial health. Figure out how much money you have for a down payment or deposit on a rental. Down payments are typically 5 to 20 percent of the price of the home. Security deposits on rentals are usually about one month of rent and more if you have a pet. But be sure to keep enough in savings for an emergency fund. It’s a good idea to have three to six months of living expenses to cover unexpected costs.

  2. How much debt do you have?

    Consider all of your current and expected financial obligations like your car payment and insurance, credit card debt and student loans. Make sure you will be able to make all the payments in addition to the cost of your new home. Aim to keep total rent or mortgage payments plus utilities to less than 25 to 30 percent of your gross monthly income. Recent regulatory changes limit debt to income (DTI) ratio on most loans to 43 percent.

  3. What is your credit score?

    A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness. Both renters and homebuyers can expect to have their credit history examined. A low credit score can keep you from qualifying for the rental you want or a low interest rate on your mortgage loan. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay moving into a new home and take steps to raise your score. For tips on improving your credit score, visit aba.com/consumers.

  4. Have you factored in all the costs?

    Create a hypothetical budget for your new home. Find the average cost of utilities in your area, factor in gas, electricity, water and cable. Find out if you will have to pay for parking or trash pickup. Consider the cost of yard maintenance and other basic maintenance costs like replacing the air filter every three months. If you are planning to buy a home, factor in real estate taxes, mortgage insurance and possibly a home owner association fee. Renters should consider the cost of rental insurance.

  5. How long will you stay?

    Generally, the longer you plan to live someplace, the more it makes sense to buy. Over time, you can build equity in your home. On the other hand, renters have greater flexibility to move and fewer maintenance costs. Carefully consider your current life and work situation and think about how long you want to stay in your new home.