FRAUD! Consumer Perspective – May 2020
During the pandemic, we’ve seen incredible heroism from health care workers and first responders. And amazing generosity from so many individuals and companies helping provide food, shelter and resources for those in need. It’s heart-warming. We hope this increased empathy and looking out for each other … will be the longest lasting change in America from Covid-19.
Sadly, even during a crisis, there are a few who seek to cheat and steal. FRAUD continues.With all of us distracted, the risk of being scammed can increase.
The following reviews the latest in Fraud, Scams and Identify Theft. We hope you find it useful. Please feel free to contact your Lakeside Banker for more information or if we can answer questions.
The most important warning we can offer: Be Alert! Fraud and scams can be stopped with AWARENESS and following the right PROCEDURES.
The first and last rule is simple: Protect Your Personal Information. If the bad guys get your private information, they can wreak havoc on your savings, daily finances and good name. But if you don’t let them in … they can’t get in!
Don’t click on emails you don’t know! Don’t share your name, address, social security number, date of birth, credit card numbers, PIN’s (for ATM’s, debit and credit cards), FSA ID’s, passwords, financial statements … with any unsolicited requests!
Other ways thieves attempt to steal your identity include:
- Phishing – Email attempts to engage you. Read emails carefully; scammers will take familiar looking addresses and misspell them or add characters. Or the domain may be different. Be sure to practice ‘safe computing’ by installing firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software on your computer. And when you buy something online, make sure you’re on a secure site.
- New scams related to the virus – Emails, texts or phone calls to purchase suspicious products, ‘treatments’, medical advice or even ‘cures’. Or they may want donations to a charity. Or have an urgent request to help a relative. Or they may be selling hard-to-find cleaning products.
There are scams targeting Social Security payments during the pandemic, too! Thieves may attempt to convince you personal information is needed to continue payments. Wrong! Remember that first rule: Don’t give up your personal information. (And SSA will not suspend or decrease payments during the pandemic.) There are even scams claiming you won’t receive Coronavirus stimulus funds if you don’t supply information. Say goodbye to calls, emails or texts about that!
Scams can get pretty imaginative. Don’t give up your information! And always validate an organization you don’t know.
- Skimming also continues. This is where a device is placed over an ATM pad or retail store card entry. If a machine looks odd … don’t use it. Also, don’t let anyone observe you using a key pad.
- Old Fashioned Theft. Stealing your mail … or going through your garbage … means they’re attempting to change your address & re-direct mail. This still goes on. If you don’t save your bills or financial correspondence, be sure to shred.
There are other suspicious activities to watch out for, too!
- Bills that don’t arrive. Or bills for products / services you didn’t order.
- Unexpected credit card or account statements.
- Denials of credit for no obvious reason.
- Calls or letters about purchases you didn’t make.
- Unusual transactions on credit or bank statements.
- Unfamiliar accounts on your credit report.
- A health plan rejection because you’ve supposedly reached a benefit limit … when you haven’t.
- Notification from the IRS that more than one tax return was filed in your name … or income was reported from an employer you don’t even know!
- Speaking of the IRS, if you get a phone call from them … it ISN’T the IRS! By law, they must contact you by mail.
- A data breach notice from a business where you do have an account.
Lakeside Bank can help! We have multiple systems designed to protect you:
- We work hard to spot check fraud, scanning accounts for unusual activities. While we won’t find everything, we saved clients over $1,100,000 last year alone by catching fraud attempts.
- Sign up for our electronic banking to eliminate paper and potential theft.
- Pay bills online. Again, less paper and less opportunity for fraud.
- Control your Lakeside debit card right from your phone or computer with our MobiMoney app, freezing and unthawing it as needed. You can also set alerts or alarms if your card is used in a way you haven’t approved.
- Multi-factor Authentication adds a second layer of protection. A one-time code is sent via text, email or phone … your choice.
Please also remember you’re entitled to a free annual Credit Report from the three rating services. Take advantage and check your credit. If there have been unexpected changes, request explanations. This is your right.
What should you do if you suspect fraud or identity theft?
Call us if it’s related to your Lakeside Bank accounts or credit / debit cards.
Report ID theft to the Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov
And to the Illinois Attorney General: www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov