At our bank, security is our number one priority. Our customers can rest assured that we utilize best and latest security software tools available, along with constant vigilance by our security and tech staff, to safeguard your data. You should also know that there are some things you can do yourself to greatly decrease the possibility of fraud and identity theft.
Reviewing the information below and checking out the links to more important security information will be well worth your time.
‘Tiz The Season for Amped-Up Cyber Theft
CARD SCAMS ARE RAMPANT DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Cyber crooks use a variety of gift card scams to steal money from unsuspecting victims. There are so many such scams, it is much easier to follow this simple rule than to analyze the various schemes:
IF ANYONE CALLS YOU AND ASKS YOU TO BUY GIFT CARDS OR TO USE GIFT CARDS FOR PURCHASES, HANG UP IMMEDIATELY.
NO ONE EXCEPT SCAMMERS WILL CONTACT YOU TO BUY OR USE A GIFT CARD.
Also note that crooks may initiate a gift card scam via text or email.
Gift cards are for gifting, only. Requests or demands that you use them for purchases or payments are scams.
OTHER HOLIDAY SCAMS ACCORDING TO THE FBI:
Criminals frequently offer too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing e-mails, text messages, and online surveys designed to steal personal information. Bottom line: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is! Stay clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise.
Consumers should also remain skeptical of social media posts offering special deals, vouchers, or gift cards. These scams frequently lead consumers to online surveys designed to steal personal information. Before you click on a social media advertisement, check the legitimacy of the website through independent research. Without practicing vigilance, shoppers may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity.
Criminals often commit charity-related fraud during the holidays since they know kind-hearted individuals want to help those less fortunate. Criminals use phone calls, e-mail campaigns, and fake websites to solicit on behalf of fraudulent charities. The scammers steal well-intentioned donations while those most in need never see a dime.
Some Steps to Avoid Holiday Fraud:
- Before shopping online, secure all your financial accounts with strong passphrases. Make sure to use different passphrases for each financial account.
- Never give personal information— such as your date of birth, home address, Social Security number, or bank account and credit card numbers— to anyone you do not know.
- Be wary of online transactions that solely require wire transfers, virtual currency, or gift cards.
- Check your credit card statement regularly, and never save payment information in online accounts. Never use public Wi-Fi when submitting credit card or payment information online.
Be wary, be careful, and enjoy fraud-free holidays!
Law Enforcement Voices Security Concerns about Apple iOS 17
Most iPhones operating on the recently released IOS 17 have a feature called NameDrop. It enables iPhone users to easily share their contact information with other people by simply tapping the two phones together or by holding them so near each other that Near Field Communication can work.
However, there are concerns that this capability could result in unauthorized information transfer, or that too much information (more than just the cell phone number) could be unintentionally included in a transfer to someone with whom you only wish to share a mobile telephone number.
If you have an iPhone on iOS 17.0 or higher and you have security concerns about this feature, you can disable it. Just go to Settings>General>AirDrop>Bringing Devices Together>Switch to OFF.
The NameDrop feature is also on Apple Watch running on OS 10 or later.
Special Hacker Alert from the FBI
The Bank of Marion joins the local field office of the FBI to bring you an important warning about a new and dangerous scam called “Phantom Hacker.”
The Phantom Hacker scam targets senior citizens and can result in victims losing their life savings. The scammer poses as a security technician or a customer support representative from a bank or another legitimate company. The scammer contacts the victim through a phone call, text, email, or a pop-up window on the victim’s computer. The scammer directs the victim to call a number for assistance. If the victim calls that number, the scam is on.
See the FBI’s in-depth description of this insidious scheme and how protect yourself from it.
“Port-Out Fraud” Targets Your Private Accounts
What’s your most important financial number? Is it your Social Security number? The number on your bank account?
How about your mobile phone number?
Text messages are often used by banks, businesses, and payment services to verify your identity when you request updates to your account. Savvy scammers know that by hijacking your mobile phone number they can assume your identity, intercept security protocols sent to your phone, and gain access to your financial and social media accounts.
The following information from the Federal Communications Commission can help you protect yourself from Port-Out Fraud:
The Porting-Out Scam: How It’s Done
One way to hijack your phone number is through a porting-out scam. Mobile phone numbers can legally be ported from one provider to the next when you switch your phone service. Phone companies have established safeguards to protect this process, such as having account holders set up a PIN or a password they must provide when calling about their account. But scammers with enough of your personal information can interfere, hijacking your phone number and with it your identity.
Scammers go after their target’s personal information, such as their name, address, birth date, PINs, or passwords, and the last four digits of their Social Security number. Scammers may try to get this information by calling their target and impersonating a trusted business or institution, then asking a series of questions to gather as much data as possible. In some cases, the information may already be stolen and available on the dark web.
When scammers initiate a porting request, they con the victim’s phone company into believing the request is from the authorized account holder. If the scam is successful, the phone number will be ported to a different mobile device or service account set up by the scammer. This typically begins a race where the scammer, by receiving the victim’s private texts and calls, tries to reset the access credentials for as many of the victim’s financial and social media accounts as possible before the victim realizes they have lost service on their device. Once the scammer has access, they attempt to drain the victim’s bank accounts. In another variation, they attempt to sell or ransom back to the victim access to their social media accounts.
How to Protect Yourself
- Be Proactive: If you don’t already have a PIN or a password to verify your identity when calling about your account, contact your phone company and ask about adding one.
- Stay Vigilant: Enable both email and text notifications for financial and other important accounts. If you receive notice that changes to your account have been made without your knowledge, contact the business holding that account immediately to let them know that you didn’t authorize a change.
- Don’t Respond: If someone calls or texts you and asks for personal information, do not provide it. If the caller claims to be from a business you are familiar with, hang up and call that business using a number you trust, such as the number on your bill, in a phone book or on the company’s website.
- Don’t overshare: Guard personal details that can be used to verify your identity – such as the last four digits of your Social Security number, your phone number, your date of birth, the make and model of your car, your pet’s name, or your mother’s maiden name. And keep that information off social media.
Typically, loss of service on your device – your phone going dark or only allowing 911 calls – is the first sign this has happened. If you suspect you have been a victim of a porting-out scam, take immediate action:
- Contact your phone company
- Contact your bank and other financial institutions
- File a police report
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report
The following consumer resources offer more information about porting-out scams:
File a complaint
If you feel you’re the victim of a porting-out scam, file a complaint with the FCC for free. The FCC Complaint Center FAQ has more information about the agency’s informal complaint process. You can also file complaints about identity theft and consumer fraud with the FTC.
FTC: Bogus Bank Messages Most Common Text Scam
Bogus bank fraud warnings are the most common text message scam reported to the Federal Trade Commission, with scammers usually impersonating larger financial institutions, the agency said last week in a new report.
Consumers reported losing $330 million to text scams in 2022, more than double what was reported in 2021, the FTC said. The agency examined a randomized sample of 1,000 scams and found that fake bank security messages were the most common type, with scammers often impersonating large banks. It also noted that reports of texts impersonating banks have increased nearly twentyfold since 2019.
“These texts are designed to create a sense of urgency, often by asking people to verify a large transaction they did not make,” the FTC said in a statement. “Those who respond are connected to a fake bank representative.”
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission has issued a series of proposals to crack down on text scams. ABA and eight financial sector trade associations last week urged the FCC to require text messages to be authenticated and set a deadline for the development and mandatory implementation of a text message authentication solution. The groups also said they support the agency’s proposal to require terminating mobile wireless providers to investigate and potentially block texts from a sender after they are on notice from the commission that the sender is transmitting suspected illegal texts.
“Smishing” Is Now a Major Cybersecurity Threat
CROOKS USE TEXTS TO STEAL PERSONAL FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Most people are aware of phishing scams, a technique that uses email or websites to steal sensitive data, such as bank account numbers, passwords, and Social Security numbers. But they may not realize scammers can also target them with deceptive text messages sent to their smart devices. It's called "smishing": a mashup of SMS – for "Short Message Service” and phishing.
Smishing scams are becoming more sophisticated and frequent. This threat requires all of us to become more watchful and wary about suspicious SMS messages and texts.
A typical smishing scam message may seem like it's from The Bank of Marion. It may include a link or phone number to bait you into clicking or calling. If you do, you stand a good chance of being hooked. And that's when the scammers start manipulating your personal information to extract money from your bank accounts.
To appear legitimate, these crooks often use official-sounding words or phrases. They typically request urgent action from their targets to avoid a threat or to resolve a problem. For example, the text message may say, “your account is suspended,” or it may say, “fraudulent account activity detected.” Such messages are just scare tactics.
Smishing scammer may also try to entice you into downloading malware to your device.
Criminals love smishing because users tend to trust text messages more than email.
Things you can do to avoid being a victim of a smishing attempt include:
- Never click suspicious links, reply to suspicious text messages, or call numbers you don't recognize.
- Be aware that crooks can “spoof” the bank’s telephone number
- Do not respond, even if the message requests that you "text STOP" to end messages.
- Delete all suspicious texts.
- Make sure your smart device OS and security apps are updated to the latest version.
- Consider installing anti-malware software on your device for added security.
Be sure to validate any suspicious texts. If you get a text purportedly from a business or government agency, check your bill for the businesses contact information or search the government agency's official website. Call or email them separately to confirm whether you received a legitimate text. A simple web search can often thwart a scammer.
Always stop before you respond to any questionable text or email and avoid the urge to engage. According to the FBI, Americans have lost billions of dollars to cybercrime, and a significant portion of that is attributed to personal data breaches and identity theft.
If you think that you are a victim of smishing, please call us at 276.783.3116.
You can also file a complaint with the FCC at no cost. Read the FCC Complaint Center FAQ to learn more about the their complaint process, including how to file a complaint, and what happens after a complaint is filed.
MULTIFACETED CYBER THREAT – BE ALERT
Scammers are using a multifaceted attack to gain access to their victim’s online bank accounts. This is a widespread and effective scam, and it is now targeting local bank customers.
Here is how it works:
These attackers call targeted customers and tell them that their online account has been compromised. During the call, the scammer accesses the bank’s online banking webpage and instructs the customer to reset their password - and provide their Secure Access Code, if the attackers need it to access the account. This action is necessary, the scammer will say, to protect the customer’s funds.
If the customer follows the attacker’s instructions, the attacker will have full access to the customer’s bank account and is able to transfer funds out of the account. Often, the account is fully cleaned out by the attacker.
What makes this scam so effective?
- Targets a potential victim after collecting information about the customer from social media.
- May already have the customer’s Social Security Number and other personally identifiable information pulled from the dark web.
- Likely “spoofs” the bank’s telephone number to gain credibility.
- May impersonate a bank employee when calling the targeted person.
- Is very believable and convincing, as evidenced by the number of people who have fallen victim to this scam.
To help protect our customers from these cybercrime attacks, we will no longer provide Secure Access Codes via email. Access codes will be provided only by text or by phone.
Here is how you can help protect yourself and your bank accounts:
- Remember: We will never ask you for your passwords or passcodes. ONLY CROOKS DO THAT!
- If anyone calls you and asks for information about your bank accounts or asks for personally identifiable information HANG UP AND CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY.
- Set up online banking alerts to warn you about the status of your accounts and notify you when transactions occur.
You can create and customize your own alerts on the online banking Alerts Page: MENU > SETTINGS > ALERTS
Thank you for being alert to this new scam and for remaining ever vigilant against cybercrime.
PHISHING SCAMS. BE VERY CAREFUL!
Phishing is a type of scam that targets consumers through telephone calls, text messages, or emails. The message appears to be from a well-known source – a bank, a utility company, or a branch of the government, for example. The scammer asks the consumer to provide personal identifying information and then uses that information to steal from the consumer’s accounts.
These criminals tend to become very active during holiday weekends because they know their targets can’t easily contact their banks during this time.
Two of the most active scams around holidays are:
PHONE SCAMS (Also known as Voice Phishing or “Vishing”)
TEXT or SMS PHISHING (Also known as “Smishing”)
You don’t need to remember the names of these scams; you just need to know when you are being scammed and how to prevent it!
People lose a lot of money to phone scams — sometimes their life savings. Scammers have figured out countless ways to cheat you out of your money over the phone. In some scams, they act friendly and helpful. In others, they might threaten or try to scare you.
One thing you can count on is that a phone scammer will try to get your money or your personal information to commit identity theft.
How to Recognize a Phone Scam:
Phone scams come in many forms, but they tend to make similar promises and threats, or ask you to pay certain ways. Here’s how to recognize a phone scam:
Banks and government agencies won’t call to confirm your sensitive information
Never give out sensitive information like your Social Security number to someone who calls you unexpectedly, even if they say they’re with the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or your bank.
You won’t be arrested
Scammers might pretend to be law enforcement or a federal agency. They might say you’ll be arrested, fined, or deported if you don’t pay taxes or some other debt right away. The goal is to scare you into paying. But real law enforcement and federal agencies won’t call and threaten you.
There is no prize
The caller might say you were “selected” for an offer or that you’ve won a lottery. But if you have to pay to get the prize, it's not a prize.
You don’t need to decide now
Most legitimate businesses will give you time to think their offer over and get written information about it before asking you to commit. Take your time. Don’t get pressured into making a decision on the spot.
There’s never a good reason to send cash or pay with a gift card
Scammers will often ask you to pay in a way that makes it hard for you to get your money back — by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app. Anyone who asks you to pay that way is a scammer.
Examples of Common Phone Scams:
Any scam can happen over the phone. But here are some common angles phone scammers like to use:
A scammer pretends to be someone you trust — a government agency like the Social Security Administration or the IRS, a family member, a love interest, or someone claiming there’s a problem with your computer. The scammer can even have a fake name or number show up on your caller ID to convince you.
Debt relief and credit repair scams
Scammers will offer to lower your credit card interest rates, fix your credit, or get your student loans forgiven if you pay their company a fee first. But you could end up losing your money and ruining your credit.
Scammers like to pose as charities. Scams requesting donations for disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone. Always check out a charity before you give, and don’t feel pressured to give immediately over the phone before you do.
Extended car warranties
Scammers find out what kind of car you drive and when you bought it so they can urge you to buy overpriced - or worthless - service contracts.
A caller might promise a free trial but then sign you up for products - sometimes lots of products - that you’re billed for every month until you cancel.
How to Stop Calls from Scammers:
Even if it’s not a scammer calling, if a company is calling you illegally, it’s not a company you want to do business with. When you get a robocall, don't press any numbers. Instead of letting you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, it might lead to more robocalls.
Don’t trust your caller ID
Scammers can make any name or number show up on your caller ID. That’s called spoofing. So even if it looks like it’s a government agency like the Social Security Administration calling, or like the call is from a local number, it could be a scammer calling from anywhere in the world.
TEXT or SMS Scams
If you have a cell phone, you probably use it dozens of times a day to text people you know. But have you ever gotten a text message from an unknown sender? It could be a scammer trying to steal your personal information.
Here’s how it works: Scammers send fake text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information - like your password, bank account number, or Social Security number. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank accounts, or other accounts. They could then use that information to steal your money and even sell your information to other scammers.
These crooks use a variety of ever-changing stories to try to rope you in. They may
- promise free prizes, gift cards or coupons
- offer you a low or no interest credit card
- promise to help you pay off your student loans
Scammers also send fake messages that say they have some information about your account or a transaction. The scammers may
- say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account
- claim there’s a problem with your payment information
- send you a fake invoice and tell you to contact them if you didn’t authorize the purchase
- send you a fake package delivery notification
The messages might ask you to give some personal information - like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number - to claim your gift or pursue the offer. Or they may tell you to click on a link to learn more about the issue. Some links may take you to a spoofed website that looks real but isn’t. If you log in, the scammers can then steal your username and password.
Other messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it.
What To Do About Scam Text Messages:
If you get a text message that you weren’t expecting and it asks you to give some personal information, do not click on any links. Legitimate companies won’t ask for information about your account by text.
If you think the message might be real, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Do not use the information in the suspicious text message.
How To Report Spam Text Messages:
If you get an unwanted text message, there are three ways to report it:
- Report it on the messaging app you use. Look for the option to report junk or spam.
- Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM).
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
If the fake message uses our name, The Bank of Marion, or the name of any of our branches, contact us immediately!
Much of the information in this notice was provided by The Federal Trade Commission. More information on these scams is available at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts
Warning: Skimmer Fraud is on the Increase
Attacks by debit/credit card skimmers are increasing. Too often there are cases where a person sees an unauthorized transaction on their bank or credit card statement without ever knowing how it happened. In many of these cases, it’s the result of falling victim to a skimmer.
What is a card skimmer? Read more here.
Don’t Be Fooled By Spoofing
There has been a recent uptick in attempts to steal bank customers’ money by crooks who use spoofing to gain customers’ confidence. (See the article below to find out more about spoofing.) Some of our customers are receiving telephone calls that show our number on their caller ID. The crook will claim to be an employee of ours, and ask for bank account numbers, social security numbers, or other information that they will use to get into your accounts. Don’t be fooled! We would never call you and ask for such information.
If you receive such a call, hang up immediately. And then get in touch with someone you know at our bank and report the scam.
Also, be alert for a similar scam in which the crooks send an email that makes a similar request.
Ignore any suspicious email that claims to be from us and get in touch with someone you know at our bank to report the scam.
Be suspicious. It’s your best defense.
Caller ID “Spoofing” Explained
The Federal Communications Commission’s definition of Caller ID Spoofing:
“Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing, so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, a number of a company, or a government agency that you know and trust. If you answer, they use scam scripts to try to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity.”
There was a time when Caller ID told you who is calling you on your telephone or smart phone. Not anymore. Crooks, hackers and scammers now use technology to hide their identity by assuming the identity of others and even the business you depend on. Or they simply show a false area code on your Caller ID that leads you to believe they are nearby when they may actually be in a country thousands of miles away.
Caller ID Spoofing is a widespread and sinister criminal activity.
Recently, some of these crooks have been calling our customers in an effort to get into their bank accounts and steal their money. They use a computer program to make your Caller ID show the telephone number of The Bank of Marion or one of our branches. Sadly, our customers can no longer assume that a call that appears on Caller ID to be from us is always from us.
Caller ID Spoofing requires you to be vigilant even after you answer a call that Caller ID says is from us. Often a caller’s foreign accent is a clue. A caller’s request for any personal or financial information is a red flag. Hang up immediately and report the call to us.
Social Security and Medicare Scam
Senior citizens in our area are being targeted by crooks who call them and say they represent one of our branches - and then request Social Security or Medicare information. The telephone number that shows up on the victim’s Caller ID may even be the actual telephone number of our branch bank. The crook has “spoofed” the telephone number to make their scam more believable.
The crook then talks the victim into giving him or her personal information that the crook uses to steal money from the victim’s bank account.
Many of these scammers have foreign accents. Most are very clever at gaining the victim’s confidence and working the scam.
Please be aware that our bank NEVER CALLS CUSTOMERS TO ASK FOR SOCIAL SECURITY OR MEDICARE INFORMATION.
If you get such a call, hang up immediately and contact us to report the scam attempt. Failure to do so could cost you thousands of dollars.
Family and friends of senior citizens in our area should warn them of this widespread scam.
Scammers Claiming to be with DOJ are Preying on the Elderly
People claiming to represent the Department of Justice (DOJ) are calling elderly people in an imposter scam. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant and never provide their personal information to anyone they don’t know.
These scammers falsely claim they are Department of Justice investigators or employees. They attempt to obtain personal information on the phone call. They may also leave a voicemail with a return phone number. If you receive such a call, hang up. If you receive such a voice mail, ignore it.
People who receive these calls should NEVER give out personal information. They should report these scam calls to the FTC via this website or call 877–FTC–HELP (877-382-4357). Fraud can also be reported to the FBI https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud.
The National Elder Fraud Hotline is a resource for people to report fraud against anyone 60 or older. Reporting financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible - within the first 2–3 days, can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open seven days a week.
For more information about the hotline, please visit https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov/.
TEXT SCAM MAY ENDANGER YOUR ACCOUNTS
A text scam operation is affecting customers of banks and other financial institutions across the country. Some of our own online banking customers have been scammed. Please be vigilant to safeguard your accounts.
Here’s how this scam works:
Customers receive a text from a scammer claiming to be from our fraud department. The text asks for a YES or NO answer to a question about a fictitious purchase or charge to the customer’s account.
The scammer will then follow the text message with a phone call and attempt to trick the customer into giving his or her card number, PIN, and/or internet banking login information. Our 276-783-3116 telephone number, or our 800 number, shows up on the customer’s caller ID. PLEASE BE AWARE: OUR NUMBER HAS BEEN SPOOFED BY THESE CROOKS!
If the customer gives the scammer sufficient information to log into the customer’s internet banking, the scammer will make Person-to-Person (P2P) transactions to steal the customer’s deposits.
We have taken these temporary emergency measures to thwart this scam:
- We have temporarily suspended P2P transactions.
- We have temporarily suspended external cash transfers.
Please remember that we never call customers to request their secure access code, card information, account numbers, or PINs. Only crooks and scammers do that!
Don’t be a victim of this scam that begins with an innocent looking TEXT. Hang up if the scammer calls you. Then contact us to report the attempted scam.
Please don’t help a scammer steal your money.
Questions or concerns? Please call 276.783.3116 or 800.772.1807 and ask for our Debit Card Department.
Additional important security advice:
Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a charity, a government official, or a company that you do business with. In our region, a crook will often pose as a bank employee. Remember: NEVER give out any personal or financial information in response to an unexpected request, whether it comes by a phone call, a text or an email.
Romance scams are on the rise here in Southwestern Virginia and the Tri-Cities. Here is an important warning from FBI, Richmond:
Don’t Be a Victim of Romance Scams
Valentine’s Day and the days leading up to it can be exciting, but it can also lead to heartbreak, embarrassment, and financial loss. Skilled criminals search dating sites, apps, chat rooms, and other social media networking sites attempting to build “relationships” for the sole purpose of getting your money or your personally identifiable information.
FBI Richmond suggests taking these points into consideration to avoid becoming a victim.
- Only use reputable, nationally recognized dating websites and be aware that scammers may be using them too.
- Research photos and profiles in other online search tools and ask questions.
- Never provide your financial information, loan money, nor allow your bank accounts to be used for transfers of funds.
- Do not allow attempts to isolate you from family and friends.
- Do not blindly believe the stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, family deaths, injuries, or other hardships geared at keeping your interest and concern.
- If you are planning to meet someone in person you have met online, meet in a public place and let someone know where you will be and what time you should return home.
- If you are traveling to a foreign country to meet someone check the State Department’s Travel Advisories beforehand (http://travel.state.gov/) and provide your itinerary to family and friends. Do not travel alone.
Victims may be hesitant to report being taken advantage of due to embarrassment, shame or humiliation. It’s important to remember, romance scams can happen to anyone at any time.
If you suspect your online relationship is a scam, cease all contact immediately. If you are a victim who has already sent money, report the incident to your financial institution immediately, contact law enforcement, and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).
10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud
From The Bank of Marion Security Department and the Federal Trade Commission
Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. We offer the following practical tips to help you keep your money and your identity safe:
- Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a charity, a government official, a family member, or a company that you do business with. In our region, a crook will often pose as an employee of your bank. Remember: NEVER give out any personal or financial information and NEVER send money in response to an unexpected request, whether it comes by a phone call, a text or an email.
- Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
- Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like loan offers, mortgage assistance, or debt relief. They might even say you’ve won a prize but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they can take your money and disappear.
- Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. Government offices and honest companies won’t ask you for advance payments.
- Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, consult an expert, or tell a trusted family member or friend.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, just hang up. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
- Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and then bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
- Don’t deposit a check from someone who you don’t know and trust. Often, scammers will send people checks and ask that money be wired back to them. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you will most likely be responsible for repaying the bank.
- If you use a computer, you can do online searches on a suspected company or product. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
- Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
- If you spot a scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring crooks to justice.
If a suspected scammer claims to be with The Bank of Marion or any of our branches, hang up and call us at 276.783.3116. Our Security Department is always available to help and advise. If you have an account with us, we can review your account for any suspicious activity.