Your privacy, security and personal information is our top priority
Here is a list of common fraud schemes for you to watch out for.
Tax Refund Fraud
The American Bankers Association reports a significant increase in fraudulent tax refunds filed using consumers’ stolen information. They explain, “Tax refund fraud involves identity theft, fraudulent W-2 forms and the online filing of a fraudulent tax return for the purpose of receiving a tax refund for deposit into the account of the fraudster or a money mule acting on behalf of the fraudster.” They also noted a variation of this fraud also includes using a tax preparation firm and obtaining a refund anticipation loan. Read more on the American Bankers Associations fraud and security site.
Phishing is a new twist on an old telemarketing scam, but uses email. These criminals send emails to millions of people hoping that even a few will give away valuable information. Consumer education is a powerful weapon in the fight against phishing. To avoid becoming the victim of a phishing scam, consider the following tips:
- Instead of clicking a link claiming to be from your financial institution, type their web address into your browser.
- Never give out your personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax or email, no matter how official it may seem.
- Beware of emails that may warn of dire consequences unless you validate your information immediately. Contact the company to confirm the email's validity using a telephone number or web address you know to be genuine.
- Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly and look for unauthorized transactions, even small ones. Report discrepancies immediately.
- When submitting financial information online, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your Internet browser.
- Report suspicious activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
If you have responded to an email, contact your bank immediately so they can try to help you protect your account and your identity.
Mortgage Transfer Scam
This is a scam in which the scammer attempts to have you send mortgage payments to them. You get a letter in the mail stating that your mortgage has been sold. It looks official and has the address where to send all future payments. Having a mortgage sold or transferred is commonplace, especially in the current climate of large numbers of banks and mortgage companies merging. It wouldn't be surprising to receive a letter like this, especially if you have recently refinanced. You begin sending your payments to the new address and a few weeks later you are receiving collection letters and phone calls suggesting that you are behind on your mortgage. Of course you are confused, as you have been making your payments to the new company. You try and explain this to what you believe to be your former mortgage company but they tell you that your mortgage has not been sold. Your most likely behind two mortgage payments (maybe three) by the time you figure out you have been scammed.
Please note that you should receive a letter from your current financial institution prior to being contacted by the new loan servicing company. If the only letter you receive is from the supposed new loan servicer, it is very likely not legitimate. It is advisable to call your mortgage company directly and obtain a verbal confirmation that the letter is legitimate and that your loan has been transferred.
Classifieds/Online Auction Scam
It is common for sellers on classified and online auction websites to receive fraudulent offers for the items they have listed. In most cases the fraudster represents themselves as an individual that may live out of state or outside of the U.S. They offer to make payment arrangements using a money order or cashier's check for significantly more than the sales price of the item. The seller is asked to deposit the counterfeit check and ship the merchandise to the requested address. The seller is of course out the cost of shipping and their merchandise.
Nigerian Purchase Scam
The Nigerian Purchase Scam is very similar to a classified or online auction scam. A fraudster will bid on a website offering and "accidentally" overpay the seller with a counterfeit check, stating they "wanted to send enough funds for shipping." The fraudster will request that the seller refund the amount of the overpayment. The seller will deposit the counterfeit check and send the overpayment to the buyer prior to the check clearing through the international banking system. The seller is then out the funds returned for overpayment and also out their merchandise.
In the lottery scam, the victim will receive an email notification claiming that they have won a foreign lottery. In order to claim the winnings, the winner is instructed to contact a claims agent. The agent then generally sends a claim form to verify identity. The victim is asked to return the form with personal details, along with copies of a passport and/or driver's license to "verify identity." The fraudsters now have information to duplicate the victim's identity. In addition, in order to claim the winnings, the victim is asked to wire funds to the fraudsters to cover the transaction, insurance, tax and legal fees associated with receiving their winnings.
Fraudsters will send an email or a letter in the mail from a "mystery shopping company," oftentimes the name of the company sounds official. Usually there is a fraudulent check included. They instruct the would-be victims to cash the check and to complete a shopping assignment at a major retail store. Victims are then instructed to send the unspent portion of the check to another mystery shopper (the fraudster) via Western Union®. When the check does not clear the victim is responsible for the secret shopper charges and the funds wired.
Common Check Scam
Generally, an individual will receive an email or letter stating they won a lottery or cash prize. In both scenarios the victim is sent a counterfeit check and asked to return some portion of the check value. In all cases the victim is out funds sent back for lottery related fees or merchandise.
Please be aware that in most scams, losses are impossible to recover. Additionally, in many states if you cash a counterfeit check you may be considered to be assisting a criminal in passing a counterfeit check or money laundering.
Lewiston State Bank will never solicit your personal information by phone, auto-dialer, text message, email or provide links within an email requesting that you update your information. You will not receive at any time an email notification asking you to click on a link or visit a website to unlock/unsuspend your account or to provide any private information unless otherwise requested by you through the Online Banking password self-reset feature. If you receive an email or phone call requesting confidential information from someone claiming to represent Lewiston State Bank, please do not respond. Please be aware of these types of Phishing Scams designed to obtain information from you.
Western Union is a registered trademark owned by Western Union Holdings, Inc.