Fraud Education Newsletter: March 2023

Check Fraud is on the Rise 

Because of the rise of social media in a digital world, fraudsters are getting even more sophisticated. With greater access to personally identifiable information in this digital world, we will continue to see check fraud increase. In fact, check fraud increased by 106% in 2022. Mail theft has increased significantly in the last year, adding to the threat of check fraud. While check fraud may seem like an outdated method in a high-tech world, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. 

Check Washing 

Stolen check fraud is an old scam that has made a comeback with a new twist. This racket involves using nail polish remover to remove the name of the payee and sometimes the amount paid on your personal check. Then the crooks fill in a new name and possibly a new amount and cash it. Or, they upload an image of your “washed” check to sell on various sites on the dark web. Wondering how thieves get your mail? They may rifle through your mailbox or buy stolen keys to United States Postal Service drop boxes.

How to protect yourself from check theft: 

Wherever possible, do not send a check through the mail. If you must send check by mail, deposit mail in the collection boxes as close to the indicated pickup times as possible or go inside the Post Office to mail checks or financial documents.

Enroll in mail delivery alerts, like the US Postal Services’  Informed Delivery. Properly endorse all of your checks. Including remote deposit. After a remote deposit has been successfully applied to your account, properly dispose of the original check. 

For businesses looking for safer ways to send payments, consider our Treasury Management servicePositive Pay. This service matches the account number, check number, payee name and dollar amount of each check presented for payment against a list of checks previously authorized and issued by your company, then identifies exceptions. 

Overpayment Scams 

Another form of check fraud is the overpayment scam. This gambit occurs when someone buys something from you, usually online, and sends you a check for more than the agreed price. Next, the fraudster contacts you to point out their “error”. Then they suggest you cash or deposit the check and send them the difference via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Sometimes, these requests involve payments through person-to-person payment apps like CashApp, Venmo, Zelle and Paypal. This scam relies on a law that requires your bank to make funds from your deposit available in a timely manner. Because you see the money in your account, you feel safe in complying with the buyer’s request. However, a few days later the check bounces and you are out of the funds you returned to the fraudster. 

How to protect yourself from an Overpayment Scam: 

– Never accept a check for more than the selling price.

– Return the overpayment and ask for a new check for the exact price.

– If the buyer insists that you wire back funds – end the communication.

– There is little or no chance you can recover funds.
Tax Season is Prime Time for Fraud

Tax season has begun, and it typically comes with a big uptick in tax-related scams. There were nearly 7.8 million reports of suspicious activities in 2022, according to a recent report from the Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Information Sharing Mission & Analysis Center, a partnership between the IRS, companies and states. Take a look at these tips below to learn how you can better protect yourself this tax season. 

Protecting Your Credentials 

Despite the warnings about using secure passwords and using different passwords for every website, not many people follow this advice. 

Experts suggest using a password manager that stores account credentials. Using such an application is still the most secure, so long as you secure that as well with multi-factor authentication.

Multi-factor authentication requires users to prove their identity in two ways, usually through a password as well as a one-time code sent to their phone or email, or a fingerprint. While the big names for online tax services all offer multi-factor authentication and advise users to layer on this added online protection, it’s not required.

Be Alert for Scam Emails, Texts and Calls

Scam emails and texts occur year-round but tend to accelerate during tax season. Scammers may pose as IRS agents, tax preparation companies and other parties.An emerging trend- the arrival of upgraded artificial intelligence apps, which could make scam messages harder to detect. Poor spelling or grammar and odd fonts or graphics have been common giveaways in past years, but the use of artificial intelligence apps can change that factor.Phone scammers also frequently impersonate IRS agents, scaring victims by demanding immediate payment using prepaid debit cards, gift cards or wire transfer and threatening to bring in local police. 

Reporting Potential Fraud 

If you think you’ve been targeted by a fraudster, please contact your Bryant Banker so that we can help you report it to the appropriate law enforcement. 

Your Bryant Banker is Here for You

One of the best ways to protect yourself from fraud is to have a banker you can call by name and that you know and trust. Ask your banker about steps you can take to protect yourself and your business, or call Bryant Bank at 1-855-427-9268. Our team is dedicated to helping you guard your personal and business accounts and keep your money safe