Availa Bank Information Security Newsletter
To our valued customers and members of our communities,
As we all know, the technology environment continues to evolve faster than most individuals can keep up with. And while exciting new technology is bringing great efficiency and entertainment to our daily lives, it is also opening new vulnerabilities for bad actors to exploit. This letter is not a doom and gloom on the world of technology or a referendum on the amazing advancements we are seeing; rather, it is a call for heightened awareness and better hygienics in the way we interact with our technology.
We at Availa Bank know that you trust us with your financial lives and do not take this responsibility lightly. We remain committed to being strong stewards of your data and actively assess our security measures to ensure our systems and controls remain strong in the ever-evolving environment. As we continue to evolve, we will be sure to let you know what new security features we deploy that might change the way you access or engage with us in your digital platforms.
Just as we are continually researching and assessing the current environment, we want to make sure you are armed with the latest and greatest information to protect yourselves both personally and financially. We believe that along with strong antivirus software and identity theft monitoring that awareness is a critical component in your fraud protection arsenal. As we communicate to our valued employees, there are thousands of options for security bells and whistles; however, YOU remain the strongest defense against bad actors. With that, I want to provide some examples of common fraud schemes we are seeing lately as well as tips you can use to keep bad actors out of your finances and confidential data.
Wire Fraud Schemes
Wire fraud schemes remain a significant tactic that bad actors use to scam customers into sending funds. Common schemes lately include random lottery prizes that require fees or taxes to be paid upfront, unbelievable investment opportunities in rarely accessible industries or territories, or unique sales or promotions in items, experiences, or charities that you are personally interested in. Often these schemes are tailored to you based on information or posts to your social media; a tactic known as spear-phishing.
Compromised Electronic Banking
Another popular ploy run by bad actors is convincing bank customers to give them identifying information or passwords in order to access their financial systems. Please be assured, our employees at Availa Bank have protocols that we follow when conducting business with our customers in a face-to-face or over the phone manner. Because of this, bad actors often attempt to reach out to you, the customer, to gain your log-in information for our mobile and internet banking platforms. This could be by imitating our bank employees via email, text, or phone call, or by posing as technology technicians offering a free “clean-up” or assessment of your computer’s performance.
Effective Tools of Prevention
So how do you stop these sophisticated bad actors that seemingly know just enough information for you to let your guard down? By being armed with the latest information and a healthy dose of skepticism. Our employees have thwarted a lot of fraud attempts this year by remaining informed in current fraud schemes and following Availa Bank’s controls to ensure business requests are legitimate.
If you are “cold called” with news of a lottery prize, unique investment opportunity, or a request for money regarding the welfare of a loved one (bail money and ransoms are common tactics), do not act while on the phone. Bad actors use fear and urgency in their tactics to force you into a decision without proper due diligence. It is never a bad idea to request a contact name, call back number, and business name to research on your own without the pressure of whoever is on the other end of the line. Should someone insinuate an urgent funding need on behalf of a loved one, request a contact name and call back number and try contacting the loved one or trusted family/friends to validate the wellbeing of the individual.
If you get a phone call, email, or text message from Availa Bank asking you for information such as your internet banking password or personally identifying information (such as your date of birth or social security number), please disconnect communication with that person and contact our bank directly to ensure the legitimacy of the request. Please also be aware that our employees will NEVER ask for your log-in passwords for internet or mobile banking.
There are a lot of exciting things happening in the world and we encourage you to continue advancing your electronic experiences as technology advancements persist. At the same time, we also ask that you remain vigilant when thinking about sharing confidential information with unknown individuals. By remaining abreast of current schemes and employing a healthy dose of skepticism when we are requested to provide information, we can all continue to thrive in our financial endeavors. Should you have any questions or would like additional information, please visit our security resources page.
Thank you for your continued relationship with us and we look forward to serving you in the future.
SVP Risk Management & Information Security Officer