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Being vigilant can help you avoid being a victim of fraud. Here are the most recent schemes identified by federal authorities.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has reported a significant increase in monetary losses due to criminals posing as security, customer or technical support representatives who can help you resolve computer-related issues.  In many cases, the criminals request that you provide your debit/credit card number or bank account information to purchase software that can help address your issue(s). Then they direct you to download the software which, unbeknownst to the victim, allows the criminal full remote access to your computer.

The following best practices are recommended to help avoid becoming a victim:

  • Remember that legitimate support companies will NOT initiate unsolicited contact.
  • Be cautious of customer support numbers obtained via search engines; instead navigate directly to the company’s website to obtain the correct contact phone number.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Criminals will use emotional triggers such as fear and urgency to lure victims into immediate action.
  • Do not give unknown or unverified persons remote access to your devices or accounts.
  • Ensure that all your computer antivirus, security patches, pop-up blockers and malware protection is up-to-date.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has reported an increase in IRS-related phishing emails requesting W-2 information, sometimes combined with a request for an unauthorized wire transfer.
 
Please remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
 
To help prevent becoming a victim, the following recommendations and best practices should be followed:
  • Limit the number of employees within a business who have the authority to handle W-2 related requests or approve/process wire transfers.
  • Use out of band authentication to verify requests for W-2 information or wire transfer requests.
  • Verify a change in payment instructions to a vendor or supplier by calling to verbally confirm the request.
  • Delay the request or transaction until additional verifications can be performed.
  • Customers have reported receiving mailers indicating that they “recently closed on a mortgage with FARMINGTON SAVINGS BANK” and that an “important matter” needs to be discussed in regards to the loan.  This mailer was not initiated by Farmington Bank, or any legitimate third-party providing services to Farmington Bank.  Do not call the phone number mentioned in the mailers as the scammers are attempting to steal money and/or personal information.
Federal agencies are warning those who are anxious to donate money for victims of Hurricane Harvey to be especially wary of con artists. Criminals are known for creating fake charities or other relief effort scams to benefit from your good will. Before you give, be sure to research the organization to ensure they’re a reputable source that will use the money as promised. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers the following suggestions:
 

On May 4, 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a public service announcement mentioning that business email compromise and online bank account takeover has grown to a $5.3 billion dollar scam between October 2013 and December 20216. This scam is carried out by a criminals using sophisticated techniques such as; email spoofing, social engineering, stealing email account credentials, or taking control of online bank accounts.

This scam impacts  businesses of all sizes and  includes some of the following scenarios:

  • A business working with a longstanding foreign supplier in which the business receive a request to wire funds into an alternative account.
  • A high-level business executive receiving a wire request from an individual impersonating another high-level business executive within the company.
  • A business email account is hacked and the criminal attempts to request wire transfers via email.
  • A criminal impersonates an attorney claiming to handle a confidential and time sensitive transaction for the business.
  • A criminal impersonates a buyer, seller, agent, or lawyer of a real estate transaction in which the funds are wired into an alternative account.

Based on reported incidents, Asian banks located in China and Hong Kong remain the primary destinations of fraudulent funds; however, financial institutions in the United Kingdom have also been identified as prominent destinations.

Here are some tips to better protect your business.

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