Tuesday, January 25th, 2022 Church Directory

Bankers talk about avoiding scams

Two weeks ago, the Patriot ran an article about spotting and avoiding scams. Representatives of Sherburne State Bank, Becker location, wished to contribute their expertise to this issue.

Candice Hanson, Chief Operations Officer, and Shannon Veches, BSA Officer, spoke on their many years of expertise in banking and the numerous scams they have seen over about the last 15 years, from fraudulent checks, to phone scams, to identity theft. 

Fraudulent Checks

Hanson noted that fraudulent checks used to be very easy to spot when this scam first started. They were poorly made, and looked grainy. This is not the case any more. Now, if a scammer has a person’s name and bank information, they can create a check that appears to be completely authentic. They can get banking information either by getting hold of a legitimate check written by the person or by finding the person’s account information on the dark web (the term “dark web” refers to shady websites that collect and sell people’s personal information.)

Scammers can also get information on the victim’s account information by tricking the person into depositing a check from them. When the check is deposited, they can see the account information and use that information to create fraudulent checks.

When selling items online, such as with Craigslist or Facebook, it’s important to not accept a check for the items. Ask to be paid in cash, or make sure that a card number or online transfer (such as Paypal) clears. 

Phone Scams / Electronic Withdraw

Some scammers will call their victims and get them to allow the scammer access to their computer and then log into their online banking account. This allows the scammers to capture the victim’s username and password and withdraw funds from the account. If the victim does not have an online banking account, the scammer may instruct them to create an account, giving the criminal even greater access to the account. 

Identity Theft

Once the scammers have access to the victim’s computer, they can access other personal information as well, such as if the victim keeps information on their taxes, their contacts, their personal lives, etc. 

It is also possible for the scammers to find this information online, if the victim has ever done any online shopping at a less-than-reputable site or on a site that has been hacked. 

Using personal and banking information, it is even possible for scammers to take out loans and credit cards in the victim’s name.

What Victims Can Do

There is one rule of thumb all people should follow to avoid falling for phone scams – hang up the phone and call the organization the scammer was imitating directly. For example, if the scammer says they are from Microsoft, call the Microsoft help line directly. The scammer will tell the victim not to hang up and can be very persuasive, making even intelligent people fall for these traps. 

Hanson and Veches gave a couple of other good practices when dealing with scammers. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, they say. Receiving an unexpected check in the mail is not good luck for the recipient. They also say the victims should question everything. Were they expecting this call or this check? What organization does the caller represent? Does this seem legitimate? If unsure, bank patrons can always call or come into the bank and talk to a banker about the issue. 

If a scammer has taken out a credit card or loan in the victim’s name, the victim can call the credit bureaus and have their credit locked. Credit Karma and other online services are a good way to monitor one’s credit and be alerted whenever a new account is opened.

In this day and age, many, if not most, people will be victims of a scam, even if they are very careful. Businesses can be hacked and bad people can steal information in many different ways. Hanson and Veches urge bank patrons to check their account statement at least two to three times a week, whether this is through electronic banking, calling on the phone, or stopping in the bank.