Types of Fraud and Fraud Mitigation
Phishing Emails, Phone and Text Messages
Fraudsters continually think up new ways to steal your personal information or to trick you into releasing this information. Fraudsters create look alike websites or use emails with malicious link. These tactics are ways fraudsters attempt to gather your personal information. Many of these attempts are convincing, as they may include legitimate company names and logos. Remember that NuWay Title & Escrow already has your personal information on file and we will not request this information unless you are already logged into our secure website.
If you receive an email or text message confirming a change on your account or payment that you did not do, or if you have given your personal or banking information out, please alert your agent or call your closer.
Fraudsters spoof phone numbers to impersonate bank call centers to appear like your actual bank is calling. Once personal or bank information is obtained, the scammers use this information to reset account credentials and access online banking accounts.
What you need to know:
- Scammers claiming to be from your bank may call and say there is a fraud alert regarding suspicious account activity that they need to confirm with you.
- They may reference a fraudulent “pending charge” to make the call seem legitimate. They may also claim that unauthorized access to your online banking has occurred and they need to secure it.
- During the call, the scammer may ask you to provide your online banking user ID, password, answers to your online banking security questions, or for a one-time passcode (OTP) that was sent to your phone. Do not ever give personal information over the phone.
A recent “imposter scam” has increased within the banking industry. Unsolicited phone calls from individuals claiming to be from certain merchants (such as Amazon or Microsoft) will notify potential victims of a recent unauthorized purchase, pending account refund, or recent account access issues. The fraudsters then instruct the individual to contact the business’ customer service to resolve the issue, and provide a phone number to contact. The number connects the individual with another fraudster who is also associated with the fraud scheme. Eventually, the fraudster gains access to the victim’s computer and instructs the individual to log into their bank’s online banking for further assistance. Once the fraudster has gained access, they can either steal funds directly, ask for card information to “fix” the issue, or continue to trick and influence the victim.
Tips to avoid this scam:
- Do not answer phone calls from numbers you do not recognize.
- Do not allow anyone to remote into your computer unless you contacted the company at a known and trusted phone number.
- Do not download software onto any computer, tablet or cellular phone that allows unknown individuals access to your personal devices.
- Reputable businesses such as Amazon, EBay, Microsoft, Apple, etc. will not request payments or re-payments in the form of wires, cryptocurrency, gift cards, or real-time payments such as Zelle®.
Identity theft is defined as the stealing of a person’s financial information, especially name, address, mother’s maiden name or social security number, with the intention of using that data to commit fraud.
Here are some tips to prevent Identity Theft:
- Never provide personal identifying or financial information during a telephone call you did not initiate.
- Never provide personal identifying or financial information over the telephone to anyone claiming to represent a contest or sweepstakes promotion.
- Never carry your social security card in your purse or wallet.
- Never have your social security number printed on your checks, driver’s license or other financial documents.
- Never respond to e-mail or “pop-up” messages on your computer claiming some problem with a credit card, Internet or other account.
- Password protect all financial information when this option is available.
- Use a “cross-cut” shredder to destroy financial records.
- Use known, valid phone numbers to contact financial institutions, internet providers, etc.
Tax-Related Identity Theft
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
Know the Signs of Identity Theft: You may not know you’re a victim of identity theft until you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return. Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if:
- You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
- You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
- You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
- You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
- You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
- You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
The IRS will Never:
- Initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information.
- Call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests.
- Call, email or text to request taxpayers’ Identity Protection PINs.
Too Good to Be True
Fraudsters are clever and constantly devise new methods to commit fraud at your expense. There are a number of known payment-forwarding or payment-scams. These scenarios typically involve online job seekers who are asked to accept payment into a personal bank account and then forward or transfer money from this personal account to another bank account. As payment for this “service,” the job seeker is instructed to keep a small percentage of the original money. Common sense in these cases is often the best protection: “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Business Email Compromise (BEC)
A business email compromise is a sophisticated online crime where criminals send email messages that appear to come from a known source making a legitimate request. Scammers will gain access to an email account and intercept email threads regarding billing, invoices, title, and real estate. The information that is gained is used to send a request using an email address with slight variations to what the legitimate email address is. The new email address is then used to send a notification to update payment information. Once the payment is processed the funds are then sent to the scammer.
How to protect yourself against BEC:
- Verify payment and purchase requests in person if possible or by calling the person to verify the information.
- Don’t click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message.
- Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in correspondence.
- Be cautious of what you download. Be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
- Be wary if the requestor is pressing you to act quickly.
Protect Your Online Banking User ID, Password, and Security Questions
Your Online Banking login credentials are important and keeping them secret is essential to preventing unauthorized access to your account. In order to protect you and the bank, make your password unique to you. Your password should be something that would be hard to guess for someone who knows you.
Additional methods to secure your accounts:
- Security Features: Use security features whenever they are offered. These features allow for an additional layer of security to authenticate your identity. Enroll for biometric log in such as a fingerprint or facial recognition for mobile banking.
- Alerts: Use Security Alerts to be notified when a change is made to your online banking profile or to your alert settings. These changes include: Address, Email Address, Phone Number, Your Alert Delivery Settings, Passwords, Security Questions, Online Banking User Name. If you enable your cell phone for this service, you will also be notified of unusual or higher risk debit card transactions via text messaging.
- Use Unique Passwords: Don’t use the same password for different sites and never share your password with anyone.
Use Privacy Settings on Social Networking Sites
Use privacy settings on social networking sites to control who has access to the information you publish. Don’t publish personal information such as your social security number, your mother’s maiden name, your home address, your full date of birth, your phone number, your kids’ names or when you won’t be at home. All this information invites identity theft.
Review Your Credit Report
Review your credit reports carefully. Each major credit reporting agency is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once a year, upon your request. Look for any credit inquiries from companies unfamiliar to you or for accounts that you did not open. These can be red flags for identity theft. To order your free annual credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.
Additional methods to protect your identity and credit:
- Credit Report Freeze: Adding a credit freeze will protect your credit accounts and history by requiring a PIN code to unlock a freeze placed on your credit report. If someone other than you tries to apply for credit while a freeze is in place, they will receive a denied decision as the credit company will not be able to authenticate the person applying for credit. This service is free and can be added simply by logging into the three major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian. Also consider freezing credit on your loved ones social security number, such as a minor or dependent, spouse, or parent.
- Sign Up for Credit Monitoring Alerts: Sign up for a credit monitoring services that monitors your credit report on your behalf and alerts you to any changes or inquires.