Scams and Scammers
As technology has become more readily available worldwide, there has been an increase in the number of scams perpetrated on the internet and through email. United States consumers and businesses that become victims of these scams lose billions of dollars each year.
Please choose from the links on the left to read information about the most common scams affecting residents of this area. If you are suspicious of a transaction you are getting involved in or employment you are about to enter into, please talk to an Officer and ask before you take action.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Inadequate cybersecurity can lead to stolen identity and financial loss. Most scams and scammers have two main goals: steal your money and your identity. You should know what to look for, how they work, and what to do to protect yourself and your finances.
Maintaining cybersecurity is very important, even for consumers. It is not simply something that concerns large corporations and other businesses. Here are some steps you can take:
- Do not open emails from people you don’t know. If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Please do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.
- Be careful with links and new website addresses. Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.
- Secure your personal information. Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.
- Stay informed on the latest cyber threats. Keep yourself up to date on current scams. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) can provide Alerts.
- Use Strong Passwords. Strong passwords are critical to online security.
- Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs. Keep your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.
- Update the operating systems on your electronic devices. Ensure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks.
Here are some trending scams to look out for:
Scammers use people as “money mules” to receive or move money obtained from victims of fraudulent activities. Scammers proactively recruit people to be part of fraudulent activity without their knowing it. If a stranger asks you to open a bank account or asks for access to your bank account or debit card, be highly guarded. A scammer may ask you to move money and direct you to deposit funds into your bank account or ask you to purchase virtual currency or gift cards for someone else’s benefit. In these scenarios, you may unknowingly hide someone else’s money for them. Be very cautious if a stranger asks you to receive or forward packages containing money or goods, which may also be part of a similar fraudulent scheme.
If you believe you have engaged in or contributed to money mule activities, stop transferring money or merchandise, and stop communicating with the person giving you direction. Then, immediately report your concern to your bank. Your banker can assist you with the appropriate steps toward protecting your bank account and money. You should also report the suspected activity to law enforcement. Visit the U.S. Department of Justice webpage on money mules for more information.
Romance scammers, often called, create fake profiles and try to develop relationships with their targeted victims through online dating apps or social networking websites. Once the relationship develops and they have earned your trust, the scammer tells a story and asks for your money. Be aware that scammers are lurking in these areas so you can keep yourself and your money safe. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has additional information on romance scams.
Impostor scams are when a scammer pretends to be someone you know or trust to convince you to send them money. They may even claim they are with the FDIC or another government agency. These scams are communicated through emails, phone calls, letters, text messages, faxes, and social media. The messages might ask you to “confirm” or “update” confidential personal financial information, such as bank account numbers. In other cases, the communication might be an offer to help victims of current or previous frauds with an investigation or to recover losses. Some scams request that you file official-looking forms, such as insurance claims, or pay taxes on prize winnings. They might claim you have an unpaid debt and threaten you with a lawsuit or arrest if you don’t pay. Other recent examples include check endorsements, bankruptcy claimant verification forms, stock confirmations, and investment purchases.
The FDIC or other government agencies do not send unsolicited correspondence asking for money or sensitive personal information, and we will never threaten you or demand that you pay by gift card, wiring money, or digital currency. FDIC Consumer News: Scammers Pretending to be the FDIC has more information on impostor scams.
Mortgage and Foreclosure Scams
Watch out for scammers who falsely claim to be lenders, loan servicers, financial counselors, or representatives of government agencies who can help with your mortgage. These criminals prey on vulnerable, desperate homeowners. For more on mortgage scams and how to protect yourself, visit the FTC Mortgage Relief Scams.
Foreclosure scams usually come from multiple advertisements stating that a company wants to save you from foreclosure. This scam allows fraudsters to take the equity out of your home. They may even try to evict you from your home and sell it.
One cyber threat often discussed in the news is ransomware. Typically, this scam targets businesses, not individuals. Ransomware is malware created to lock or encrypt files on an electronic device like a smartphone or computer. The sender of the ransomware then demands a ransom in exchange for unlocking or decrypting the information on your electronic device. The scammer typically threatens to disclose or sell the compromised information publicly if the ransom is not paid.
If you believe your business is a victim of a ransomware attack, contact law enforcement immediately. You can also contact a local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or U.S. Secret Service field office to report a ransomware attack and ask for assistance.
Maintaining your cybersecurity will help prevent you from being a victim of identity theft and potential financial loss. Staying current on the latest types of scams can help you identify the risks and learn how to avoid them so that you can protect yourself and your finances.
FDIC Consumer News: Beware It’s a Scam
FDIC Video: #FDICExplains Phishing
CISA: Ransomware 101
FDIC Press Release: Online Dating Scams
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): FDIC.gov