Here. For Security Questions or Concerns.
Financial scams are on the rise across the nation. In periods of disruption, scammers often introduce new ways to defraud you. From the start of COVID-19, we’ve seen several new scams as well as more aggressive attempts to use known forms of fraud against Americans.
Take precautions. Talk about the spike in scams and fraud with family and friends so they are alert. Contact your Heritage Banker with any questions or suspicions.
Consider registering for alerts from the Federal Trade Commission on fraud and scams by clicking here.
Mobile Deposit Fraud
If you receive an unsolicited check by mail or email with instructions to deposit into your bank account using a mobile device, beware. You could be providing an opening for fraudsters to collect account information or access to your bank account.
Another common ploy is for fraudsters to issue a check for more than the amount they claim to owe you when first making contact. The next step is for the fraudster to ask for the difference back in a Money Order, gift card or Zelle payment. The scam relies on you acting fast to repay the "overage" before the bank alerts you that the check you deposited is fraudulent. Also, if you send a check for the overage, the scammers will often alter or change the amount of your check.
Online shopping is a way of life, and fraudsters have found ways to adapt. Beware of any online business asking for a wire transfer, gift cards or pre-paid cards as payment.
Government Benefit & Loan Forgery
Many scams involve someone impersonating a government employee or official. From unemployment scams to Small Business Administration impostors to fraudsters trying to capitalize on Child Tax Credit payments, remember these tips:
Side Gig Scams
Have you seen the online ads for secret shoppers and other "side gigs" that seem too good to be true? Be very cautious about these offers. Some are legit, but others are scams.
If you are sent a check to deposit into your bank account with directions to use some of the funds for secret shopping or other "job-related" tasks, then return the rest of the money, discontinue any further interaction. The check you recieve is fraudulent. You won't be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses and whatever money you "return" is almost impossible to recover.
There are a few versions of the “grandparent scam”. Seniors might be contacted about a grandchild in jail who needs bail. They might hear from relatives who need money for emergency medical procedures or help returning from a foreign country. The situation is always urgent, there’s a request to transfer money, and the caller will often ask that the senior not involve other family members to avoid embarrassment (i.e. "Don't tell my mom I need help.").
When seniors panic and rush to get cash to a family member in need, they often neglect to check in with other family members or confirm the request comes from a family member. Once the wire or cash transfer is done, the money is gone. A few times, Heritage Bank employees have noticed an elderly customer was transferring a large sum of money out of state or out of the country, asked a few questions and stopped the scam in its tracks.
Phishing (with a Ph) and Supply Scams
Scammers have become experts in impersonating financial institutions, health organizations, government agencies and businesses you trust to gather personal and financial information. Be suspicious of unsolicited emails asking you to divulge personal financial information or to download unfamiliar documents. When checking out a website linked through an email or found online, be sure the URL checks out.
Scammers are very clever at setting up illegitimate or non-existent organizations intended to be confused with a legitimate organization. Verify the organization's legitimacy before donating.
Do some research before downloading new apps – some deliver malware to a computer, tablet or phone. Another tactic is to create sensationalized news headlines that lead to false stories. When you click on the story, you’re unleashing malware.
If someone sends you money and asks you to send it to someone else, STOP. You could be what some people call a "money mule" — someone scammers use to transfer and launder stolen money. Scammers often ask you to buy gift cards or wire money. They might recruit you through online job ads, prize offers, or dating websites.
Online Dating Fraud
If someone you’ve recently met through an online dating site asks for money, beware. You’re likely a target for a type of fraud on the rise.
Learn More about Online Dating Fraud
Everyday Steps To Take To Prevent Fraud
Don’t provide your Social Security Number or bank account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. We would not reach out by phone or email and ask for your account number. We already have that information. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords. Avoid using names of your kids, grandchildren or pets. Change them periodically. Also, do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
Shred Sensitive Papers.
Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away. Fraudsters will go through your trash to find clues to your personal information.
Keep An Eye Out For Missing Mail.
Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. We’ve seen a surge in online banking and use of mobile banking apps. Not only are these tools great ways to bank remotely, they are also secure.
Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up. If you have a neighbor who still does that, you might clue them in – they are potentially signaling to fraudsters that they have mail to steal. Put the flag down or better yet, drop your mail in a secure post office box or pay your bills online. Ask us how to get started with Online Banking and BillPay.
Use online or mobile banking to regularly monitor your financial accounts for fraudulent transactions. Ask your bank about ways to monitor debit card purchases to track online purchases or transactions over a certain amount or purchases made outside of our region.
Monitor Your Credit Report.
Order a free copy of your credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. Monitoring your credit report is so important, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
Protect Your Computer.
Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
Protect your mobile device.
Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it. You can buy software to wipe your phone or ask the manufacturer for recommendations. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Also, avoid opening links and attachments in your emails or texts if you don’t recognize the sender.