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Can You Spot a Phishing Scam?

Every day, thousands of people fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts, and calls from scammers pretending to be their bank. And in this time of expanded use of online and mobile banking, the problem is only growing worse. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission’s report on fraud estimates that American consumers lost a staggering $5.8 billion to phishing scams and other fraud in 2021—an increase of more than 70 percent over 2020.

It’s time to put scammers in their place.

Online scams aren’t so scary when you know what to look for. And at Community State Bank, we’re committed to helping you spot them as an extra layer of protection for your account. We’ve joined with the American Bankers Association and banks across the country in a nationwide effort to fight phishing—one scam at a time.

We want every bank customer to become a pro at spotting a phishing scam—and stop bank impostors in their tracks. It starts with these four words: Banks Never Ask That. Because when you know something sounds suspicious, you’ll be less likely to be fooled.

These four phishing scams are full of red flags:

  • • Text Message: If you receive a text message from someone claiming to be your bank asking you to sign in, or offer up your personal information, it’s a scam. Banks Never Ask That.
  • • Email: Watch out for emails that ask you to click a suspicious link or provide personal information. The sender may claim to be someone from your bank, but it’s a scam. Banks Never Ask That.
  • • Phone Call: Would your bank ever call you to verify your account number? No! Banks Never Ask That. If you’re ever in doubt that the caller is legitimate, just hang up and call the bank directly at a number you trust.
  • • Payment Apps: Beware of text messages from someone claiming to be your bank saying your account has been hacked. The scammer may ask you to send money to a new account they’ve created for you, but that’s a scam! Banks Never Ask That.

You’ve probably seen some of these scams before. But that doesn’t stop a scammer from trying. For tips, videos, and an interactive game to help you keep phishing criminals at bay, visit You can also visit our YouTube playlist. And be sure to share the webpage with your friends and family!


Money Mule Scams

What Are They & How to Avoid Them

A money mule scam is where you are sent money, then asked to send it somewhere else. Scammers use this tactic to launder money. Typically, the scammer will send you a check and ask you to purchase gift cards or wire some or all of the money back. 

Money mule scammers will try to contact you through online job ads, prize offers, or dating websites. By the time you find out the check was bad - you are already out that money and on the hook for it! 

How should you avoid falling victim to a money mule scam?

  • Never use your own bank account, or open one in your name, to transfer money for an employer
  • Never pay to collect a prize or move any money out of your "winnings"
  • Never send money to an online love interest, even if he or she sends you a check first

What should you do if you spot a money mule scam?

  • Break off contact with the scammers and stop moving money for them
  • Tell your bank/wire transfer company/gift card company right away
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at


Why Is My Card Being Blocked?

Debit Card Fraud Prevention and the Algorithms That Help 

Debit card fraud. We are all aware that it is happening, and we all know the basic steps to preventing it: don’t give your card number out to a stranger, only use trusted websites for purchases, and never save your card information online. But what other ways are out there to help prevent card fraud?

Most financial institutions use a fraud system that actively blocks transactions it believes to be fraud. Here’s how it works: when you swipe your card at a terminal or type it in online, you see either “authorizing” or “processing”. During this seconds-long window, the computer system that runs the card network performs thousands of computations. It looks for things like signs of counterfeit cards, account balances, location of the transaction versus the address on the card, the type of transaction, etc. It uses this information to give a probability of fraud, and in general, when that probability is over 30%, it blocks the transaction.

Sometimes, legitimate transactions get blocked for various reasons. This can be frustrating, but remember that this system is for your protection, and it is nothing personal! (It is literally a computer making a decision based on data and probabilities!). It is estimated that card fraud losses total about $30 billion per year, and that total is only 5 – 10% of the actual attempted fraud – all the rest is blocked by fraud systems. In fact, without fraud systems in place, card systems wouldn’t be a viable payment option.

So, what else can you do to make sure that legitimate transactions make it through? Make sure to always keep your phone number, address, and email updated with the bank. If you plan on leaving town, call ahead and put a travel notice on your account. Finally, you can set up alerts with online and mobile banking to know when your debit card is being used, and to easily identify any fraudulent transactions. 

Want to learn more about Fraud, Cybersecurity, and other safety tips?

Visit Our Education Center

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