If something seems too good to be true, it is. Never let anyone on your computer, and always keep your banking information confidential.
Protect yourself by being aware of known scams.
Scams are Everywhere
At the bank, we unfortunately see many people who fall victim to scams. The following page was developed to educate people on how to spot and avoid common scams. Scammers will use one of a few tricks to convince you to give them information or money. They will typically use one of the following excuses for contacting you.
• You have a technical problem such as a computer virus.
• They threaten you with an unpaid debt such as taxes due or a past due invoice.
• They appeal to your soft side as a “friend” in need of assistance.
• They offer you a way to make some easy money.
• They pretend to be a relative in need of money.
Known Scams in Our Area
Some scammers will call their victims, claiming to work for a merchant or online retailer (i.e. Amazon, etc.). The caller may claim the victim's account or profile has been hacked so they need to verify the credit card or payment information that is saved on the account. If you receive a call from a merchant it is likely to be a scam. Merchants rarely call customers and they will never ask for specific account or payment information.
We have been made aware of recent fraud reports involving gift cards. Scammers frequently use gift cards because it is easy to share gift card numbers, and the money on the gift card can be used immediately. If anyone demands or prefers payment by gift card, this is most likely a scam.
For more information about gift card scams and what to do if you’ve fallen victim to this scam, visit the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information page at ftc.gov/giftcards
Facebook Marketplace and Online Buying
Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and other online buying platforms are known places for scammers to operate. Some fraudulent activity on these sites includes collecting payment without delivering the purchased product and selling fake or knock off products. If a transaction is made through these sites, but the seller does not deliver promised goods, we have no chargeback rights to rectify the situation. When buying products online, always use caution and discretion.
We have seen an influx in scammers calling and pretending to be various types of law enforcement or government officials. These scammers are threatening arrest, fines, closing accounts, lawsuits, etc. to the person receiving the call, unless he or she can verify their Social Security Number or account number.
This is all a rouse to get a person flustered and more likely to give up their Social Security Number or account number in order to clear up the issue. If you receive such a phone call, do not provide any personal information, Social Security Number, account number, address, bank name, etc.
If you have already fallen victim to this scam and have given out any information, contact your banking institution immediately.
IRS Tax Refund Scam
Some news channels have been reporting a new version of the IRS tax refund scam. In this version, the impostor files a false tax return (prior to the real filer filing their return) with a refund owed. The refund is direct deposited into the real taxpayer’s bank account as their prior refunds have been. The impostor then contacts the taxpayer and says there was an error at the IRS and refund was deposited to their account by error. The taxpayer verifies that they did indeed receive an unexpected tax refund. The impostor then convinces them to return the money to their “collection agency”. They may threaten fines or jail time for refusal to cooperate.
This scam seems believable because the taxpayer was not expecting a deposit and it did indeed come from the IRS. One clue to this being a scam is that the IRS will not initiate contact by email or telephone.
Any taxpayer receiving an unexpected tax refund should contact their tax preparer, or call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. The money can be returned via standard bank ACH returns as a rejected deposit. If a paper check is received, it can be marked “VOID” and returned to an IRS office.
Other Examples of Scams
Windows License Expiring
This is a telephone scam where the call is a recording telling you your Windows software for your computer is expiring. You must call an 800 number to get it extended or your computer will stop functioning. If you respond, the scammer will send you to a website where he will be able to remote into your computer and do whatever he wants from there.
A phone call is received or a pop-up appears on your computer that it is infected with a virus. When you call for assistance, the scammer has you go to a website where he/she can remotely access your computer. They “fix” the issue and have you log into internet banking to make sure it works okay. They record your access id for later use. Then they charge you a fee for fixing your computer and steal your credit card number.
Taxes are Due
A caller pretending to be an IRS agent tells you an audit of your tax return indicates you owe the IRS some money. You must pay by credit card immediately or the police will be at your door within hours. The real IRS would notify you by mail.
Money Maker Scams
There are many variations on this. This scam can be performed by email, regular mail, or telephone.
The Job – You are offered a job as a “secret shopper” to rate service received at a store. You are given a check or credit card to use for purchases and rate your experience. Your purchases are forwarded to your “employer”. The check you were sent bounces in a few days, or the credit card was stolen. You wind up looking like the crook.
Help a Friend – A friend you met online, maybe a few months ago asks you for a favor. They have a check they cannot deposit and want to forward to their family. If you could deposit it to your account and forward a MoneyGram or wire to their family, you can keep part of the funds for your trouble. They may even ask to use your mobile deposit credentials to deposit the check themselves. The check bounces in a few days, but you have already sent a MoneyGram to the scammer. You cannot get your money back.
A Relative in Trouble
This scam is usually aimed at the elderly. The scammer may have researched family names and relationships. The victim received a call from someone claiming to be a grandson, nephew, or other relative. They ask how Grandma is doing and so forth. Then they explain they have gotten into some trouble and they don’t want mom and dad to know. They need some money to get out of jail or debt or they will be in really big trouble. Or the caller may pretending to be a policeman or attorney or someone holding the relative and they must get paid or the relative will be going to jail or worse. If money is sent, there may be another call needing more money.
How it all Happens
The scammers know how to avoid capture and work the financial system. They know by using victims, they will not likely be caught and can continue on to more victims. They know it takes a few days for a check to clear or bounce and most consumers assume all checks are good. They know using a stolen credit card could get them caught, but using someone else to use the stolen card will keep them anonymous. They know people inherently want to help others in need. They know most people are afraid of the IRS and debt collectors. With this knowledge, they devise plans where they convince victims to do all the work and pay with real money, while the scammer hides in the background and pays with bogus checks or stolen credit cards. People need to know that a check can take three days to bounce, the IRS will contact you by mail not phone, Microsoft is not out looking for people to help with virus control or license updates, and online friends can be anyone with fake pictures and made-up lives.