Protecting Your Data Online When Banking And Investing

  • by John Kaminsky
  • Published :
  • mins to read

It has never been a more vulnerable time to use the internet. Even though it makes up a huge chunk of our daily lives, cyber threats and criminals are more prevalent than they have ever been. Thanks to our increasingly interconnected lives, there’s also far more platforms that criminals can use to access your money and data, meaning you have to be careful with every app and site you use.

Digital money is rapidly outpacing cash, with cashless payment volume expected to increased by 80% by 2025. With banking and investments apps and finance platforms dominating how we manage our money, vulnerabilities are everywhere.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), losses from online investment fraud have gone up 127% in the last year, with losses totalling $3.3bn in 2022. This makes it the most expensive form of cybercrime in the US, followed by Business Email Compromise scams, which are typically phishing scams that target businesses.

Whether you use Cash App, the most popular finance app in the US, a crypto wallet like Coinbase or the apps of your banking provider, you could be leaving yourself vulnerable to scammers.

Online fraud statistics

Online crime resulted in $10.3bn in losses in 2022, an increase of $3.4bn compared to 2021. Many observed that with the rise of home working and e-commerce during the Covid pandemic, the opportunities for cyber criminals grew exponentially. Given that these trends have persisted even after covid measures have been removed, this is likely what’s behind the huge increase in victim losses since the beginning of the pandemic.

With banking and finance apps being the most direct route to your money, we analysed search volume around scams and fraud reporting for the biggest banking and investment apps in the US. We compared the results against the overall search volume for each app to determine which apps have the highest percentage of users looking for scam and fraud advice.

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App Type Monthly Scam Searches % of Monthly Searches
Cash App Banking 46,520 4.23% Crypto 1,090 1.40%
Chime Banking 1,260 1.34% Crypto 80 0.83%
Binance Investment 1,400 0.79%
Bittrex Crypto 310 0.74%
eToro Investment 370 0.47%
Discover Banking 500 0.47%
Coinbase Crypto 8,390 0.42%
Citibank Banking 2,960 0.34%

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As well as being one of the most popular, Cash App is potentially the most vulnerable banking app in our dataset, with over 46,000 people per month searching for advice and reporting information related to Cash App scams and almost 7,000 a month looking to report fraud.

The app has over 40m users and is most commonly used to make payments between banks. Cash App also has a high number of searches for ‘how to scam Cash App’, suggesting that there are well-known strategies to part you from your money through the app.

Common strategies used to infiltrate and extort money from finance apps include personal data breaches, phishing attempts, investment fraud and credit card fraud. Each of these, bar phishing, has seen a rise in victim losses in the last year, making it essential to know how to fend off these crimes and keep your money safe.

Crypto statistics

Though cryptocurrency has declined in interest and use since its heyday of the past few years, trading using crypto coins still represents a huge amount of global capital. According to Reuters, trading volumes hit a record $86m in January.

Of the 8 crypto platforms analysed, 5 are in the top 10 for scam searches online. This excluded searches such as ‘is a scam’ and focuses only on searches relating to people looking for scam advice.

Across all 8 apps, there are over 10,000 scam-related searches a month and almost 2,000 fraud searches a month.

App Type Monthly Scam Searches % of Monthly Searches 78,000 1,090 1.40% 9,600 80 0.83%
Bittrex 42,000 310 0.74%
Coinbase 2,000,000 8,390 0.42%
BlockFi 113,000 260 0.23%
Webull 266,000 270 0.10%
KuCoin 196,000 130 0.07%
FTX 121,000 80 0.07%

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The most vulnerable crypto app is This platform has over 50m users and with 1.4% potentially experiencing fraudulent behaviour, this could be as many as 700,000 users at risk.

Coinbase, one of the most popular crypto wallet platforms, sees over 8,000 scam searches a month, which represents 0.4% of total searches.

The IC3 received over 50,000 complaints related to cryptocurrency and crypto wallets in 2022. This was more than 10,000 more complaints than the previous year and losses were more than double, going from $1.6bn to more than $3.7bn. With crypto still deemed an emerging investment practice, and thanks to its decentralized nature, the likelihood for permanent losses is higher.

Most vulnerable cryptocurrencies

As expected, the most commonly-traded cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, also has the most scam-related searches. This doesn’t suggest that lesser-used coins are safer as cybercriminals will likely target all platforms available to them to gain access to your money. However, the fact that cryptocurrency crime losses are rising at such a rate should emphasize the importance of safety at all times.

Name Scam Search Volume
Bitcoin 25,000
Tether 1,700
Shiba Inu 920
Dogecoin 810
Etherium 580
XRP 460
Solana 440
Cardano 410
BNB 240
Chainlink 220

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Investment fraud per victim per state

Losses to investment fraud almost tripled in 2022 based on the previous year’s figures, with larger states like California seeing an almost 200% increase in overall losses.

Based on losses per victim, New Hampshire came out on top, with victims losing an average of $204,447 per crime. California was close behind, with criminals taking $176,464 on average there.

The states that saw the lowest average losses per victim also saw a considerable drop in investment crime in 2022. North Dakota and Vermont have each seen an 80% decrease in losses per victim in 2022 compared to 2021. Additionally, only five states saw a drop in average losses per victim.

State Investment Loss 2022 Victims 2022 Loss per Victim 2022 % Change 21-22
New Hampshire $14,311,268 70 $204,447 +165.93%
California $869,614,022 4,928 $176,464 +89.93%
Nebraska $12,758,063 78 $163,565 +54.13%
Wyoming $7,750,670 48 $161,472 +85.90%
Kansas $18,658,024 119 $156,790 +249.41%
Kentucky $19,360,380 128 $151,253 +358.64%
Montana $8,695,378 58 $149,920 +347.59%
Oregon $41,583,266 288 $144,386 +284.73%
Arizona $88,886,631 618 $143,830 +143.57%
South Dakota $3,852,649 27 $142,691 +390.41%

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How to avoid getting scammed online

Online scams are more prevalent and ever-increasing in sophistication but anyone can fall victim to even the most obvious scam if they’re not paying close attention. Even if you’re sure you know how to protect your data online, it’s always good to refresh your memory and research new threats to stay ahead of them.

  • Phishing / Smishing

    Phishing or smishing (text phishing) is one of the most common threats users face online. Typically, criminals will pretend to be representatives from the apps you use to try and convince you to send them your log-in data or send you payments to help you with an issue.

    Always check the sent address of any email and, if you’re unsure, go to the site or app directly and check your account there before you communicate further with anyone from the platform.

  • Learn your provider’s protocols

    Whatever finance apps you use, they will have policies in place to help you protect your money. You should read up on how they will contact you in the event of an emergency and what kind of information they will and won’t request so you can more easily spot when someone isn’t telling the truth.

  • Antivirus protection for your phone

    You could be at risk due to a vulnerability or virus on your phone that you don’t know about. To avoid the chance of anyone gaining access to your phone or apps, download a separate antivirus protection app for an extra layer of security.

  • Read up on common scams

    The apps you bank with want you to stay protected and many will have dedicated support resources to help you spot and prevent scams. For example, Cash App has a list of common scams people take advantage of that could help you spot when something’s too good to be true before you hand over any money.

Data breach statistics

Personal data breaches resulted in the fourth biggest loss of money in 2022, with over $742m lost and over 58,000 reports throughout the year.

Compared to 2021, some states have seen a serious rise in the losses per victim for this kind of crime. This means that malicious actors are able to draw more from individuals and businesses through this kind of crime, hence why it's consistently rising in popularity among cyber criminals.

State Data Breach Loss 2022 Victims 2022 Loss per Victim 2022 % Change 21-22
Alabama $182,244,643 35 $5,206,990 +283,581.17%
South Dakota $36,310,400 10 $3,631,040 +334,050.48%
Delaware $4,271,294 7 $610,185 +77,234.79%
New York $64,983,059 238 $273,038 +102.31%
Massachusetts $16,118,464 61 $264,237 +368.65%
Utah $8,144,199 34 $239,535 +6,505.83%
North Dakota $1,402,289 6 $233,715 +63,497.98%
Kansas $2,387,215 16 $149,201 +602.29%
California $46,132,944 381 $121,084 +916.40%
Alaska $594,836 5 $118,967 +57,339.65%

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California and New York, some of the most expected states for cybercrime, were beaten to the top spot for the highest losses per victim for data breaches by Alabama. While New York saw $273,000 lost per victim, Alabama’s average per victim was over $5m, with South Dakota in second place losing $3.6m per victim.

The phenomenal increase in losses per victim demonstrates just how damaging a single data breach can be. Breaches not only cost businesses during the initial attack but can also cost dearly in loss of custom and reputation.

Overall, the average loss per victim in 2022 was $169,400, slightly higher than the $128,581 for data breaches in the same year.

How to protect your investments

Whether it’s investments in crypto or more traditional investment strategies, risk of fraud is high so you should do a lot of careful research before choosing where your money should go. Particularly if you’re new to investing, it could be a good idea to consult an investment professional to discuss your options with your money before you venture into DIY investing.

  • Do a lot of research or consult someone you can trust

    Whatever you’re planning on investing in, do your research into the company, its products and services and its history before choosing to invest. For added safety, start by instructing a trusted and qualified professional to begin investing for you to reduce your risk at first.

  • Understand that “guaranteed returns” never are

    Every investment carries an element of risk so any promise of guaranteed returns shouldn’t be trusted. Obviously, there are investment opportunities that have little risk but “guaranteed returns” is a phrase often used as a sales tactic and isn’t a reflection of the risk likelihood.

  • Two-factor authentication

    For all online accounts, you should have two-factor authentication turned on. This is usually a password and a text or email authentication, meaning criminals will need access to both to break into your account. This also means you’ll get notifications for every attempted break-in, meaning you can change your password if it’s compromised and keep your investments safe.

  • Cold wallets for crypto

    While many people trade cryptocurrencies through an online exchange, these platforms are more vulnerable to criminals and don’t have as much guaranteed insurance as more traditional finance platforms. To ensure your wallet is secure, you can save your coins to a ‘cold wallet’ or hard drive, like a USB stick, removing it from the internet and this ensuring its safety.

    Cold wallets typically include a security key which helps you keep it safe if the hard device is ever lost. However, this carries some risk as, if you every forget the key, your coins will be lost.


We used Google search data to identify the finance platforms and cryptocurrencies where users are looking for the most advice on scam and fraud issues. We also used data from the IC3 to identify trends and issues with investment fraud and data breaches across the US.