In this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, most people are limiting social interactions to a necessary minimum. We don’t go to coffee with friends as often, nor concerts or games. In fact, a lot of people have started to work from their homes.
Working remote has its benefits (being in less risk of catching Coronavirus is one), but may be a lot different from what you’re used to.
For instance, you may have to send documents over the Internet to your clients more than before.
Now, what if those documents and emails contain your bank account information?
Is it safe to send bank account information via email?
How Banking Scams Target Customers?
First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room and the worst-case scenario if you send bank account information via email.
We’re all afraid of them (as you should be) and very careful about them. Yet, as many as 76% of businesses have reported being victims of a phishing attack, per ReTruster Phishing and Email Fraud Statistics 2019.
Most scammers want your money and the first place they will look for it is in your bank account. That makes sense since most people keep their money there.
To get that information from you, scammers use a myriad of tricks and tactics to which many people fall every year.
Here are a few scams that you should be wary off that scammers might use to obtain or steal your bank account information:
We already mentioned phishing as one of the most prominent types of scams out there. And even though it’s been around for a while and a lot of people already know how it works, people are still falling for it.
Why is that?
The danger of phishing scam lies in its simplicity. There are no complicated schemes and Hollywood-style heists to get your bank information. All the scammer has to do is ask nicely and he will get your bank account information.
“But there’s no way ‘I’ would send them ‘my’ bank account information through email! I’m not an idiot!”.
No one’s saying you are. Just like no one can say that for millions of others who fell for the same trick.
So how do phishing scams work?
It’s really simple.
First, you get an email that looks like it is from your bank. In it, they tell you that they’re updating their database and now they need your bank account information to do so.
So, they ask you to click on a link to their website or reply directly to the email
Which you do and they thank you for it.
Except this wasn’t your bank, but a scammer who has just created a phishing email that looks almost identical to the real bank’s website (same homepage, images, fonts, etc.). The only thing that’s not the same might be a slightly different URL, which can be hard to notice.
And that’s how people fall for phishing scams.
- Government “imposters”
Authority is a powerful weapon and scammers know this. So, one scheme that they often employ is to pose as a government agency to get you to reveal your bank account information to them.
Here’s how it usually works:
One morning, as you’re checking your email, you notice a message from a government agency in your inbox.
So you open it.
Inside, the message says something like “you have an outstanding debt” or “you haven’t paid your taxes”. The sender is then asking that you send them an upfront payment or you’ll get a fine, or go to jail or whatever.
Not wanting to anger authority (your government in this case), you oblige and send them your bank account information via email.
Of course, this was never any government agency, but an imposter who now has your banking info.
- Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue Scam
Unfortunately, many homeowners today are at risk of losing their homes to a high mortgage they cannot afford.
If you are in this situation, you are probably looking for a way out of it. This could, for instance, be mortgage refinancing and getting the mortgage under a better deal.
Well, it’s a desperate situation for many (no one wants to lose their house) and scammers know this. So they often pretend to be money loan services, lenders, financial services, or loan broker representatives offering you a “great deal” to refinance your mortgage deal.
All they need from you is some “small” information like your name, address, phone number, bank account information… you get it.
Is it Safe to Send Bank Account Information via Email for a Legitimate Reason?
Of course, these were some of the worst-case scenarios of how you might be duped into revealing your financial information online.
But there are legitimate reasons to send your bank information via email.
For instance, you might have completed your internship at a new company. Now your boss wants you to send them your bank account details so they can transfer you the money for the stipend.
Or, you need to email them your banking routing number for an employee direct deposit.
So, it is safe to send bank account information via email if you know and trust the recipient?
Well, not through a regular email.
Let me paint you a picture.
Imagine standing in a long queue and you need to get your information to the clerk. Now, imagine you don’t have time to wait (there’s like 50 people in front of you). Someone approaches you and tells you “I can get that for you to the clerk without waiting”.
You give them your info and they go with it through a throng of people, pushing and shoving. Say the envelope you gave them falls, or they keep repeating the info out loud so they don’t forget it, for everyone around to hear. By the time they reach the clerk, dozens of people in that queue have seen and heard your bank info.
Regular email services like Gmail, are that helpful, but clumsy guy you’ve given your info to. The risk here isn’t so much if they will steal your info (though they do like to “take a peek”), but if your information is safe as they are carrying it.
Think of all the people in that queue as servers through which your email message and its contents have to go through. Each one represents an opportunity for someone to take a look.
Now, why would you expose your personal and financial data to such a risk?
Imagine now another guy. He also tells you that he can get your information to the front quickly. But unlike the first guy, this guy puts it in a nice sealed envelope and then puts the envelope safely in their inner pocket.
They don’t even read what’s inside, so if someone asks them “what you have there?”, they don’t know.
Who would you rather trust with info? The first guy or the second guy?
Obviously, the second guy, who is being much more mindful about keeping your info secure.
Encrypted email service with OpenPGP like CTemplar is that second guy you can trust to send your data like bank account information via email.
Well, not only does it offer 4096-bit encryption that keeps your email messages, attachments, contacts and content secure, or allow you to set a phrase that will be shown in your account, thus providing unparalleled phishing protection, but it is also one of the very few anonymous email services that actually instantly and permanently delete your emails.
So, what is the best way to send bank account information via email? Sign up with a secure email encryption provider, like CTemplar.