Each month, in this space, we strive to provide you, the customer, with some actionable tips that you can use to safeguard yourself against all types of fraud. This month, I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the recent security-related experiences that we, as a bank, have had, both to show that we are not immune to schemers' tactics, and to illustrate the lengths to which we've gone to keep your money safe and secure. I'll start with the most recent.
Thursday, October 1, 2020
An elderly customer fell victim to a phone scam. She was informed that she had purchased a $1,199 phone from Amazon. The caller was able to keep her on the phone for three hours, wearing her down and eventually gaining access to her computer. The customer provided her checking and savings account numbers, and authorized the amount to be $11,999 – claiming she was nervous and put the incorrect amount on the authorization. The fraudster was able to move money from the savings to the checking account, unbeknownst to our customer.
The fraudster told the woman that she would need to wire $11,999 to an individual who would be sure to clear up the situation, and that if she did not initiate the wire immediately, she would suffer a penalty of 57%, or $6,839.43.
As evidenced by this example, these thieves will do/say anything to gain access to an individual's funds. They aim to confuse their victims as much as possible, and that is exactly what happened here.
Fortunately, one of our personal banking specialists spoke with this customer, and did not allow her to wire funds that she would not be able to recover. The accounts were closed, her computer was checked for malware, and she subsequently filed a police report.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
I received a call from our Verona office, informing me that a customer – an 82-year-old woman – wanted to wire $100 thousand to Los Angeles that day for the purchase of real estate. The office manager explained to me that she did not feel right about processing the request, so was seeking a second opinion. She also went on to tell me that the customer said the wire was “for a really great deal,” and that she instructed the office manager not to tell anyone about it, as it was top-secret and she could lose the deal if others found out.
The office manager told me that our customer had called a number of times that afternoon, saying she needed proof that the wire had been processed; however, I determined not to send it out until I spoke with the woman's daughter, a co-owner on the account. To buy time, the office manager told the customer that bank security had to review the wire, and that the department was unusually busy, so had yet to approve it.
When I finally managed to speak with the customer's daughter, she was grateful that we did not allow the transfer to go through, and requested that it be canceled. Her mother had falsely claimed, in one of her calls to the bank, to have had relatives in California, a claim that was ultimately refuted by her daughter.
Because of some quick internal thinking on the part of our office manager, we were able to prevent this customer from losing $100 thousand and becoming yet another victim of elder financial exploitation.
Friday, August 7, 2020
A woman withdrew $11 thousand in cash from our Cross Plains office. Per protocol, the manager there spent time reviewing the alert notice with the customer. Although she did take the cash out of the bank, a short time later, the woman returned and deposited the $11 thousand back into her accounts. This standard review planted seeds of doubt in the woman's mind and caused her to rethink what she was doing, which ultimately saved her a five-figure sum.
The scam she was falling for involved a fraudster spoofing the Cross Plains Police Department phone number and telling her that her Social Security number had been used to commit a crime, and that, to clear her name, she would need to pay $11 thousand at once. After withdrawing the money, the customer stopped by the Cross Plains Police Department, and they informed her that it was, indeed, a scam.
These are just three examples out of dozens that we, as a bank, deal with on a regular basis. As always, we encourage you to report any instances of suspected fraud to our Customer Support center at 608.798.2400 or 855.256.7328, and to always remain vigilant in the fight against crime.