Video: What is Social Engineering?

Have you ever wondered why there are so many scams?

Sadly, it’s because they work. But how? Scammers employ what is known as “social engineering” to manipulate you into revealing sensitive information.

Social engineering takes advantage of your natural trust and curiosity, aiming to lower your defenses so you’ll act on impulse rather than reason.

It’s used in a number of attack types, including:

  • Pretexting, where a scammer fabricates a convincing backstory
  • Baiting, which provides a tempting false promise
  • Phishing, where a scammer pretends to be someone you know and trust

In each of these scenarios, the attacker is trying to impair your better judgement and lure you to take action.

This could be signing onto a fake website, opening an email attachment containing malware, or simply responding with your personal or financial account information.

Social engineering is psychological manipulation. The best way to combat it is to slow down and ask yourself questions.

If you detect suspicious activity, contact your financial institution directly at the number listed on the back of your bank-issued debit card, in your banking app, or the bank’s official website.

banks never ask that

Think you can outsmart the scammers?

Visit to play the new Scam City game and become a scam-spotting master. While you’re there, you can also learn more about steps you can take to keep your money safe before a scammer strikes.

Educational content brought to you by the American Bankers Association.