Cybercrime prevention calls for informed vigilance

Woman sitting on sofa looking at phone

By educating accountholders, financial institutions help them protect themselves

It’s hard to believe that October 2023 marked the 20th annual national Cybersecurity Awareness Month, created for the public and private sectors to work together to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. The steady growth of cybercrime has made awareness and prevention vitally important and continually relevant.

While old-style financial fraud persists – AiteNovarica notes a rise in check theft in its recent report “Trends in Fraud for 2023 and Beyond” – newer technologies have spawned new scam opportunities. Take, for instance, cryptocurrency. The Federal Trade Commission reported that over $1 billion in crypto has been lost to scams since the start of 2021.

Although cyber criminals with sophisticated hacking technology deserve attention, much of today’s cybercrime is little more than older, less sophisticated scams adapted to digital channels. There’s nothing new about shopping scams, phony products, romance scams, investment scams, impersonation, found money scams, or persuading the unsuspecting to give up personal information.

What has changed is the way digital technology has allowed such schemes to proliferate, increasing fraudsters’ geographic reach and reducing the time needed for a fraudulent transaction to mere seconds. Yet many fraud tactics can still be foiled with basic precautions. 

It all starts with awareness

To that end, cybercrime prevention is a call for informed vigilance. Financial institutions shouldn’t fear that raising the topic will cause panic among accountholders. For one thing, accountholders already know about and are wary of cyber fraud. For another, they are eager for sound, safety-enhancing information.

Educating accountholders provides an opportunity for financial institutions to:

  • Help accountholders protect themselves
  • Strengthen client relationships
  • Further establish themselves as a trusted partner
  • Help reduce financial institutions’ liability

The challenge, of course, is in providing accountholders with information that is comprehensive yet accessible, useful yet not overwhelming. 

Fiserv helps inform consumers

The Digital Banking Safety Center, a Fiserv cybersecurity information hub, provides ready-to-use cybersecurity resources for Fiserv clients to distribute to their staff and accountholders, including:

  • Emails on various safety topics such as common scams, age-specific cybercrime and safety readiness
  • Social media ads, images and content to promote education
  • Training materials for staff such as cyber safety checklists, FAQs and advice

Access to the center is provided at no charge to Fiserv clients.

Tips for consumers

Accountholders can benefit from clear, concise reminders such as these from the Digital Banking Safety Center, a Fiserv cybersecurity information hub:

 Use two-factor authentication when available

Employees and customers alike should both opt for two-factor authentication to add an extra level of security. Besides adding your credentials when logging in, a code will be sent to your mobile device through text, phone call or email. This is an additional safety measure so even if you’re logging in from a different, unrecognized device, you can ensure that your account is protected. Never share a one-time code with someone in which you did not initiate contact.

 Avoid public Wi-Fi and computers

A public network means that anyone can access your accounts, even if they are password protected. For this reason, avoid accessing your banking app or any other account that can be susceptible to getting breached, like your email. If using a public or shared computer, you should also avoid accessing your bank account online.

 Use licensed antivirus software

Keeping your computer updated with a strong antivirus software can protect your devices from malware and other cyberthreats. Additionally, make sure that all your devices’ operating systems and browsers are always current since these updates often address bugs and security threats.

 Password protect all your devices

Personal or work devices should always be password protected. As with any password, do not use the same or similar password for all your devices, and do not stay logged in to any of your apps that have sensitive information (like your banking app).


 Sign up for banking alerts

An easy way to track transactions in your account so you can spot unusual activity is to receive notifications when a purchase above a certain dollar amount is made or whenever money is withdrawn from the account.

 Be vigilant of phishing scams

Phishing is when scammers pose as a financial institution representative or other trusted company employee to get you to divulge personal or financial information to steal your identity or make fraudulent transactions. Typically, financial institutions or other companies already have the information being requested and will not ask their customers for personal information through email, text or phone.

 Avoid clicking links in suspicious emails

Because sometimes it can be difficult to decipher if an email is legitimate, avoid clicking on links within them. If you need to log in to your bank account, always type the URL of your bank and make sure it starts off with “https:” or a lock icon is present in the URL bar.


Financial institutions and consumers alike should be well versed in potential cyber threats faced by consumers today. Empowering consumers with the ability to recognize and avoid today’s sophisticated scams is an important part of providing the basic security measures that customers expect and deserve.