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.
PHISHING SCAMS INCREASE ON HOLIDAY WEEKENDS. 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
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/.
Dirty Dozen: Taxpayers should be on the lookout for these scams
All tax scams put taxpayers at risk. This is the first of two tips taking a closer look at the IRS Dirty Dozen tax scam list. This year, taxpayers should be especially, watchful for aggressive schemes related to COVID-19 relief, including Economic Impact Payments.
Here is a recap of the scams in this year's Dirty Dozen.
Phishing: Taxpayers should be alert to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers through email about a tax bill, refund or Economic Impact Payment. Don't click on links claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites − they may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.
Fake charities: Criminals frequently target natural disasters and other situations, such as COVID-19, by setting up fake charities to steal from well-intentioned people trying to help in times of need. Fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact by phone, text, social media, email or in-person using a variety of tactics.
Threatening impersonator phone calls: IRS impersonation scams come in many forms. A common one remains fake threatening phone calls from a criminal claiming to be with the IRS. The agency will never threaten a taxpayer or surprise them with a demand for immediate payment. Scam phone calls include those threatening arrest, deportation or license revocation if the victim doesn't pay a fake tax bill.
Social media scams: Taxpayers need to protect themselves against social media scams, which frequently use events such as COVID-19 to try tricking people. Social media enables anyone to share information with anyone else on the Internet. Scammers use this information as ammunition for a wide variety of scams. These include emails where scammers impersonate someone's family, friends or co-workers.
Economic Impact Payment or refund theft: This year, criminals turned their attention to stealing Economic Impact Payments. Many of these scams are identity theft-related. Criminals file false tax returns or supply false information to the IRS to divert refunds to wrong addresses or bank accounts.
Senior fraud: Senior citizens, their friends and family need to be on alert for tax scams targeting older taxpayers. Their growing comfort with technology, including social media, gives scammers another means of taking advantage of them. Phishing scams linked to COVID-19 have been a major threat this year. Seniors should be on alert for a continuing surge of fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information.
Scammers targeting individuals with limited English proficiency: IRS impersonators and other scammers are targeting groups with limited English proficiency. These scams are often threatening in nature. Phone scams pose a major threat to people with limited access to information, including individuals not entirely comfortable with the English language.
A common one remains the IRS impersonation scam where a taxpayer receives a telephone call threatening jail time, deportation or revocation of a driver's license from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Recent immigrants often are the most vulnerable to these scams. They should ignore these threats and not engage the scammers.
Dishonest return preparers: Taxpayers should avoid so-called "ghost" preparers who expose their clients to potentially serious filing mistakes as well as possible tax fraud and risk of losing their refunds. Ghost preparers don't sign the tax returns they prepare for taxpayers. They may print the tax return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. For e-filed returns, the ghost preparer will prepare but not digitally sign as the paid preparer.
With many tax professionals affected by COVID-19 and their office locations potentially closed, taxpayers should be especially careful to select a credible tax preparer.
Offer in Compromise mills: Taxpayers need to be cautious of misleading tax debt resolution companies that can exaggerate chances to settle tax debts for "pennies on the dollar" through an Offer in Compromise. Dishonest companies oversell the program to unqualified candidates so they can collect a large fee from taxpayers already struggling with debt.
These scams are commonly called OIC "mills," which cast a wide net for taxpayers, charge them pricey fees and churn out applications for a program they're unlikely to qualify for.
Fake payments and repayment demands: A con artist will steal a taxpayer’s identity and bank account information. Then the con artist will file a false tax return and will have the refund deposited into the taxpayer's bank account. Once the direct deposit hits the taxpayer's account, the fraudster places a call to them, posing as an IRS employee. The taxpayer is told that there's been an error and that the IRS needs the money returned immediately or penalties and interest will result. The taxpayer is told to buy specific gift cards for the refund amount.
Payroll and HR scams: Tax professionals, employers and taxpayers need to be on guard against phishing designed to steal Form W-2s and other tax information. These are called Business Email Compromise or Business Email Spoofing. These scams have used a variety of tactics including requests for wire transfers or payment of fake invoices.
Ransomware: This is malicious software that is often downloaded by the user after clicking on a malicious attachment that encrypts their data making their data inaccessible. In some cases, entire computer networks can be affected. The IRS and its Security Summit partners have advised tax professionals and taxpayers to use the free, multi-factor authentication feature being offered on tax preparation software products.
Bank Customers May Become Complicit in Unemployment Insurance Fraud Schemes
Nationwide fraud schemes are stealing Unemployment Insurance payments that are meant for legitimate out-of-work applicants. These fraudsters depend on bank customers to assist them in their fraud. Bank customers who assist the fraudsters in these schemes are subject to investigation by the IRS and Secret Service. Serious charges could be filed against them by investigative agencies .
How the schemes work:
- These scam artists use phishing techniques to find bank customers who will give them their account number and other personal information.
- The crooks then file a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim and direct the state agency handling payments to deposit the funds to the customer’s account.
- The crooks promise the bank customer that a portion of the funds will be left in the customer’s account as payment for their help. The crooks then transfer most of the funds out of the customer’s account. Or, they may direct the customer to transfer the funds to them via Western Union, MoneyGram, gift cards, or other methods. In either case, the bank customer has now become complicit in a serious crime.
- Our bank is carefully monitoring these types of deposits for suspicious activities. We are required to report unemployment insurance fraud to appropriate federal agencies when discovered.
Our customers should be aware that participating in these schemes can result in federal investigation, serious charges, and severe penalties. Please be aware of this widespread fraud activity and report any related phishing attempts to us immediately.
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).
DIRECT TV / AT&T SCAMS ARE ON THE RISE!
There are several versions of this scam targeting customers of DirecTV, which is now owned by AT&T.
In many versions, the crook will call DirecTV customers and claim to be a DirecTV representative. The crook will then offer half-price monthly bills, subscription or equipment upgrades, and/or pre-paid debit cards. The victim is then given a toll-free number to call to take advantage of this fake offer. The crook says the toll-free number is “proof that this is not a scam.”
Don’t be fooled. When victims actually call the provided number, they are pressured to give the crooks their bank account number, debit card number, or other personal information.
If anyone calls and asks for your bank account number, debit card number, or up-front payments for you to take advantage of their too-good-to-be true offers, hang up the phone and call your bank immediately!
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.
Identity (ID) theft is a crime where a thief steals your personal information, such as your full name or social security number, to commit fraud. The identity thief can use your information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services. These acts can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name. You may not know that you are the victim of ID theft until you experience a financial consequence (mystery bills, credit collections, denied loans) from actions that the thief has taken with your stolen identity.
Here are some basic steps that you can take to help protect yourself from identity theft:
- Secure your social security number. Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet or write your number on your checks. Only give out your social security number (SSN) when absolutely necessary and make sure the person you give it to is trustworthy.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online.
- Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” Shield the keypad when typing your passwords on computers and at ATMs.
- Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Review your receipts. Always ask for receipts of all transactions and for any incorrect charge slips as well. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
- Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
- Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess easily. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases
- Order a copy of your credit report once a year and review to be certain that it doesn't include accounts that you have not opened. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has gained access to your account information.
IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process. Click on this button for the government’s excellent Identity Theft website:
Please let us know how we may help if you suspect identity theft. 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. You may call us at 276.783.3116 or Long Distance at 800.772.1807.