Consumer Fraud Prevention

Protect yourself from the latest cyber threats with these helpful tips.

As the ease of making financial transactions with a swipe or a tap is second nature and our lives are more digital, criminals are finding new ways of committing fraud. Scam attempts that play on your emotions and seek to gain your trust are becoming more frequent and more effective.

Keep in mind: KeyBank will NEVER contact you and ask for personal information by text, email, or an unsolicited phone call. This includes unsolicited calls that ask you to obtain or provide a one-time passcode.

Be aware of increased risk of fraudulent links during the holiday season.

Instead of spreading joy during the holidays, fraudsters use digital shopping against us. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. You should not buy items from unknown sites and instead purchase from known vendors.

Here’s how fraudsters might contact you and what you need to know to protect yourself.

Beware of suspicious-looking addresses, even if the sender seems familiar. Never open links or attachments in emails you don’t fully trust. Report email scams that pretend to be KeyBank that ask for your personal or account information.

Be suspicious of texts from outside your saved contacts. Fraudulent texts may appear to come from a bank and ask you to open a link. Don’t open any links or provide personal or account information. Call KeyBank directly if you have questions or concerns about fraud.

Watch for any strange links or requests for money. What feels like a real chat could be a scam.

If you don’t recognize the number, think twice about picking up. Scammers can mimic local area codes to get you to answer.

Vigilance is your best defense in protecting yourself. Here are some simple tips you can follow to avoid the most common types of fraud.

  • Monitor your accounts regularly for suspicious activity, including setting up account alerts. In online banking, you’ll find Account Alerts in Your Profile and in account details. In the mobile app, look for Alerts under Settings. Report any suspicious activity to the bank immediately.
  • Never share your account passwords, PIN, one-time passcode, Social Security numbers, or credit or debit card numbers.
  • Create strong passwords that contain both numerals and letters. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts especially across banks or financial institutions.
  • Protect your login information. Do not store it on or even beside your computer.
  • Ignore spam. Phishing emails can be very subtle and may contain links or downloads infected by malware.
  • Keep your software updated on all your devices, including your operating system and browsers.

To Defend Against Zelle® Fraud:

Zelle should only be used with friends, family and others you trust. Why? Because you can’t cancel a payment once it’s been sent if the recipient is already enrolled with Zelle. And if you send money to someone you don’t know, or you do not get what you expected, you may not get your money back.

While Zelle and cash are certainly different, both provide the recipient with fast access to the money you send. With Zelle, money moves directly into the enrolled recipient’s bank account within minutes. And again, once you authorize a payment to be sent, you can’t cancel it if the recipient is already enrolled.

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For example, a stranger selling online concert tickets at a steep discount and insisting you pay with Zelle may be a scam. Zelle does not offer a protection program for authorized payments, so play it safe. Only send money to people you personally know and trust.

Make sure you have the correct U.S. mobile phone number or email address for the person you want to send money to. When in doubt, contact your friend to double check. If you authorize a payment to be sent to the wrong person, you may not get your money back.

If you don’t know a person or aren’t sure you’ll get what you paid for, using your credit card may be the better payment option. Many credit card companies offer built-in buyer protection for cardholders. Check the terms and conditions of your credit card to see what’s offered. Unlike a credit card, Zelle does not offer a protection program for any authorized payments made with Zelle.

To Help Protect Yourself Against Check Fraud:

  • Utilize your bank’s online bill pay feature to send payments to merchants or individuals. 
  • When mailing checks is necessary, go inside a Post Office. Avoid using stand-alone U.S. Post Office blue boxes, whenever possible, as the risk of check fraud with the use of blue boxes is greatly increased.
  • Do not include unnecessary information on checks, such as your driver’s license number or telephone numbers.
  • Avoid leaving large blank spaces in the number or amount on lines on checks.
  • Use the entire name of the company when writing or printing checks. For example, if the payee is the Internal Revenue Service, don't abbreviate “IRS.”
  • Indicate the amount of the check with both numbers and words, and spell out the amount completely. For example, on a check for $2,255.00, write out "Two thousand two hundred fifty-five dollars and 00/100." This makes it harder for fraudsters to tamper with the amount.
  • Store your checkbook and checks in a safe, secure place.
  • Shred old checks, ATM receipts, and statements before discarding them.
  • Do not sign blank checks or endorse payments until the time of deposit.
  • Always be diligent about monitoring your accounts for unauthorized transactions and immediately report any suspected fraud to your financial institution.

*Common Scams

  • Email or text asks if you intended to transfer a set amount of money.
  • You say “no” and are told you can reverse the fraudulent transaction.
  • You get a call and are told you just have to go to Zelle and transfer the money back to yourself.
  • It’s not your Zelle account but rather the scammer’s mule account.
  • It works since they spoof the bank name on the caller ID.
  • Only call the bank. Never accept the call from a bank.

  • This is a scam where they will send you a text and tell you to click on a link or have you type sensitive information.
  • Usually, the link is a malicious app which steals your password and cleans out your account.
  • Never click on a link as it is usually spoofed to look like your bank’s email.

  • You can get on the “sucker” list if you are scammed.
  • These lists get sold to other scammers.
  • You will receive a call indicating that they will help you to get a refund of what you lost.
  • They get you to pay a fee through your checking account and then take everything that is in it.
  • Do not entertain this ever. There is no such legit service for this.

  • The scammer will send you many emails and texts showing great interest in you. They are seeking to form a bond.
  • At some point they will ask you for money to pay a fine, obtain a flight ticket to come see you, pay for a visa, travel documents, and gift cards.

  • This is a scam where they will list items on Craigslist, Facebook, or other sell-sites.
  • Common scams are puppies, game systems, job services, utility companies, and vacation rentals.
  • You send the money for the product but the item never comes.
  • Once you send the money it is gone.
  • This works both ways where they get you to send items you’re selling and send you a fake screen to show payment. You never get your money.

Fraud Prevention Resources

Consider the following resources for additional perspective and reliable facts on fraud.

The information and recommendations contained here have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable and represent the best current opinion on the subject. No warranty, express or implied by KeyBank, is made as to the absolute correctness or sufficiency of the information contained. This is meant as general information only; particular situations may require additional actions.

This document is designed to provide general information only and is not comprehensive nor is it legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. KeyBank does not make any warranties regarding the results obtained from the use of this information.