July 3 – Federal Trade Commission data from 2021 shows Americans lost more than $5.8 billion to various scams and fraud schemes, a 70% increase from 2020.
More than 2.8 million Americans reported being scammed in 2021, but that number is likely even higher, as many scams or fraud schemes may go unreported, and only half of all U.S. states contribute to FTC tracking efforts.
Community Bank’s associate vice president and chief corporate security officer, Daniel Cardi, said it’s getting easier to scam people as technology advances, instant money transfers and digital banking platforms becoming more mainstream. The DeWitt County-based bank, Onondaga, with branches in the North and Northeast, was recently named the sixth most trusted company in the country by Newsweek magazine, and Mr. Cardi said that a lot of it came down to the bank’s dedication to protecting its customers from fraud and scams.
“We obviously still have the battery of traditional fraud cases that we deal with, the various scams involving good people receiving counterfeit checks and getting tricked into transferring those funds, those are still the most common ones we see,” he said. -he declares. “But lately the hardest to deal with are computer or phone scams.”
There are many examples of digital scams used to steal money, and many of them may look like scams seen throughout history. The most common are called “impersonation scams”, which can be romance scams, in which someone pretends to be a romantic interest in a faraway place and demands money from their victim; business scams in which someone pretends to be a businessman in need of an investment; or authority scams where the fraudster impersonates the IRS or another legal authority and threatens the victim with penalties if they don’t pay.
Cardi said digital banking has also brought more modern and complex schemes to the fore, such as “phishing attacks”.
In a phishing attack, the scammer “throws a line” posing as someone they are not, such as someone’s employer or bank. They ask the victim to share personal information, such as their digital bank name and password, through a webpage or email designed to look like those of the real financial institution they are impersonating. Once the scammer has the account information, he can steal the victim’s money and get away.
Mr. Cardi said it was something he discussed regularly with Community Bank customers and had some advice that could be applied to almost any US bank.
“We tell all of our clients, we really push this, look at everything with a skeptical eye,” he said.
Never assume the phone call, text or email you received is genuine – check for spelling mistakes, find out if the phone number or email account the message is being shared from belongs actually at the bank, and if you really have any doubts, call the bank’s main phone number.
“Maybe your bank has a 1-800 phone number and this call is coming from a 1-888 number,” he said. “Call your branch directly yourself. We are always ready to help.”
Mr Cardi said Community Bank and other financial institutions will never call a customer asking for their banking information – this is information they should already have in front of them before the call.
“If I call you from the bank about something, I already have your account information, I don’t need you to tell me,” he said.
Likewise, Community Bank will never ask or ask you to recite your account password, which is also true for every financial institution in the United States. Banking passwords are designed to be hidden from almost everyone once they are created, and the bank itself should never need a customer’s online banking password to access their information. ., Mr. Cardi said.
He said there are many new ways to withdraw money from someone’s account without stealing their information, and many methods now use cryptocurrencies or online “wallet” services like CashApp or Venmo. A scammer may convince a victim that they are paying a charity, buying an item online, or sending money to a friend when they are actually giving their money to a complete stranger. Cryptocurrency scams can involve a scammer convincing a victim to open a “wallet” shared with them, fund it with money from their bank account, and then the scammer will withdraw everything and disappear.
“These people are basically creating joint accounts with scammers. They would each have their own credentials to log in, they would pump money into that wallet and the scammer would just write it up and move it,” said Mr Cardi.
It can be much more difficult to recover money from scams that involve the victim willingly transferring their money out of the bank’s control. Scams involving stolen checks, bank IDs, or deliberate attempts by the fraudster to break into a customer’s account are much easier to stop than customer-initiated transfers.
“We were able to stop and recover well over 90% of attempts on our clients’ accounts,” Cardi said. “That number isn’t as good when we’re the middleman.”
Mr Cardi also had words of warning for people who might want to donate to GoFundMe campaigns or other charities. It can be difficult to know where donations are going when people donate to GoFundMe campaigns, and Cardi said they should be approached with skepticism.
Mr Cardi said their approach to protecting customers from scams was key to achieving the level of trust they were able to build with their customers, which led to recognition by Newsweek.
He said it starts at the local level, with tellers and bank managers. When they see a transaction on a customer’s account that raises suspicion, they get in touch with the customer.
“I will apologize in advance if we annoy customers because we harass them because we are concerned about something,” Cardi said. “It only happens when someone raises a concern, usually the locals in our branches.”
Along with staying vigilant and keeping a close eye on bank and credit accounts, he said developing a strong, trusting relationship with your bank is the best way to protect your finances. At Community Bank, Cardi said branch staff and the security team, working with customers, prevent the most fraud.
“We rely on the agency staff. They are there, they know their clients and we rely on that,” he said. “That’s a big part of how we succeed here, based on the people who talk to our customers.”