In today’s world, fraud encompasses much more than counterfeit checks and money orders. Fraudulent activity and scams now come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and may be difficult to recognize. It has, unfortunately, become easier for predators to take advantage of the unsuspecting, honest consumer. At Bank of Odessa, your protection is important to us. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is to educate yourself and be aware of common scams and fraud that you may encounter.

We want you to be Aware

This section of our website provides an overview of some of the most common types of fraud that we are seeing or hearing about, as well as some warning signs you may see if someone is attempting to engage in fraudulent activity. In addition, we’ve included contact information on the major agencies you should notify if you believe you or someone you know is a victim of fraud.

Quick Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim to Fraud

Protect your passwords. Never share passwords and store them securely.
Guard your personal information. Never provide your sensitive information to strangers or unknown callers.
Access your accounts from a secure location. Avoid using public WiFi when feasible.
Enable multi-factor authentication for accounts that support it.
Monitor your accounts regularly.
Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.
Watch out for phishing scams. Do not click on links or open any attachments from sources you are not familiar with.
Research software you’d like to download or charitable organizations you’d like to contribute to, prior to doing so.
Recognize and avoid bogus websites. Rely on official sources for the most up-to-date information during times of crisis.
Help others by reporting scams (Refer to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center below to report suspected or confirmed scams).

COVID-19 Scams
Scammers are being extremely aggressive in their efforts to take advantage of people due to the increased financial hardship that many are experiencing during this unprecedented time. They are calling businesses and individuals, posing as bank or government employees, asking for bank account information, social security numbers, or other private information. Fraudsters often utilize social media, public records, or information bought on the Dark Web to initiate scams or target them to an individual. Scams that have been detected throughout the course of the Coronavirus include the following:

  • Bank and FDIC Scams– A bank or FDIC employee reaches out to you to inform your that banks are starting to limit access to your deposits or that there are security issues with your account. Their end goal is to retrieve your personal banking information.
  • Phishing and Supply Scams-A health organization or business claims they have access to important medical testing kits, supplies, vaccines, or even medical cures. They are typically seeking credit, debit card, or account numbers.
  • Economic Relief Scams– Scammers contact you posing as a government employee or the IRS. You may be told the only way to receive your money is by being assessed a fee or by providing your private banking information. In reality, the IRS should already have your direct deposit information or address to send a check based on your previous tax returns.
  • Investment Scams– Someone wants you to make an investment in their company so they can help support an important cause such as preventing, detecting, or curing a deadly disease. In the end, they will just walk away with your money.
    If you encounter any of these situations, practice extreme caution. Remember, fraudsters may spoof phone numbers so it appears as if the call is coming from your financial institution even when it is not. Never provide personal information to an unsolicited, unknown source.
Phishing ... Not Fishing

By pretending to email you from a bank or similar site, scammers “fish” for account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, etc. They trick consumers into divulging sensitive information that can be used to conduct fraudulent activity. Phishing email schemes change frequently but there are some common characteristics to look for. They often create a sense of urgency trying to convince you to act now. They will entice you to click on links or attachments. They usually contain spelling or grammar errors. You may also notice they have dropped, added, or changed a letter or two in the email address or links provided such as: bankofodesa instead of bankofodessa. Users who click on the links are taken to look-alike sites (they may look just like your Bank or Credit Card Company site) where they are asked to enter personal data. This personal data is then used to open fraudulent accounts, or even charge your banking accounts. If you get an unsolicited email, do not open the email. Do not click on any links or attachments. Do not follow any instructions or utilize any contact information they may have provided to you. Call your Bank or Credit Card company directly using the numbers provided on your Billing Statement or other trusted correspondence.

Telemarketing Fraud

Telemarketing fraud occurs when someone conducts fraudulent sales over the telephone. The Federal Trade Commission has identified telemarketing fraud as one of the most persuasive deceptions. Senior citizens are a primary target for this type of fraud, making up to 80% of the victims affected by telemarketing scams. When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud. Tips to Avoid Telemarketing Fraud…From the FBI (link to https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/telemarketing-fraud).

Warning Signs – From the FBI
The FBI’s website provides several warning signs:

Beware of the following statements a caller may make, such as:

  • “You must act ‘now’ or the offer won’t be good.”
  • “You’ve won a ‘free’ gift, vacation, or prize.” But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.
  • “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.” You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.
  • “You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.” The callers say that you do not need to speak to anyone; including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.
  • “You don’t need any written information about their company or their references.”
  • “You can’t afford to miss this “high-profit, no-risk” offer.”

If you hear these or similar statements from a telephone salesperson, just say “no thank you,” and hang up the phone.

Some Tips to Avoid Telemarketing Fraud:
If you have signed up to be a part of the National Do Not Call list, the number of phone solicitations you receive has probably subsided. Nonetheless, it’s wise to understand the types of telemarketing fraud that exist. Once this fraud has taken place it’s tough to get your money back. But you can avoid most fraud by carefully following these FBI guidelines:

  • Don’t buy from a company you know nothing about. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to provide you with background information.
  • Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But, beware — unfortunately, not everything written down is true.
  • Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.
  • Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items. Before you give money to a charity or make an investment, find out what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment.
  • Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?” You must not be asked to pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered.
  • Some con artists will send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.
  • Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.
  • Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.
  • Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are — the kinds of financial information you will and won’t give out on the telephone.
  • It’s never rude to wait and think about an offer. Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial adviser.
  • Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.
  • Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons. Your personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties.
  • Never give out your ATM PIN to anyone.

If you have information about fraudulent activity, report it to your state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

 

Identity Theft - What Is It

Identity theft happens when someone steals your private personal information such as your social security number, your credit card number or your checking account number, and uses it to commit theft. It is much more than someone stealing your credit card. The thief may steal your checking account information, your mother’s maiden name or some other personal information, known only to you and your immediate family members in order to pose as you and drain your checking account, investments or other savings vehicles. How do you protect yourself?

Learn More

What To Do If You Think Fraud has Taken Place

Immediately contact the Company, or Bank that represents your credit card, your checking account, loan etc. to let them know of any fraudulent activity directed against you. Call Bank of Odessa (816) 633-5331 to report any discrepancies with your checking or savings accounts. Describe the circumstances with as much detail as possible. Let them know about charges you did not make, or withdrawals from your accounts… They can give you the necessary steps to correct the problem.

Contact Information – To Report Fraudulent Activity

If you have information about fraudulent activity, report it to your state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies. In addition, the local Better Business Bureau may be able to assist you.

Missouri Attorney General – http://ago.mo.gov

Missouri Better Business Bureau – http://www.kansascity.bbb.org

FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center – http://www.ic3.gov

FTC Scam Alerts – http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts


National Fraud Information Center

Phone: 1(800)876-7060

Website: http://www.fraud.org


Additional Information

If you’d like to learn more about fraud and how to prevent it, the following websites provide even more detail than we have covered here.

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/telemarketing-fraud

https://www.consumer.gov/scams