By: Scott Willman, Compliance, BSA, Fraud Intervention
Welcome to Iowa State Bank’s first official Fraud Blog, a resource we’ll be offering to raise fraud awareness for our community members, while providing some insightful tips to help you keep your confidential information and money safe. As the bank’s Compliance Officer, a primary role of mine is to detect and prevent fraudulent activity that leads to financial losses for our customers.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present unique opportunities for fraudsters to wreak havoc. The topic for today’s blog is the “government imposter scheme.” In 2020 alone, the Federal Trade Commission reported 498,000 cases of imposter fraud, totaling $1.2 billion in losses! The infographic for today’s topic comes courtesy of the FTC.
What is government imposter fraud, and how can you identify it?
Imposters will use phone calls, emails, texts, and social media messaging to contact you. Treat this as a red flag, because government agencies do not contact you in this way! Government imposters attempt to create fear so that you will pay them, or provide confidential information immediately. Commonly-identified threats made by government imposters include:
- You’re subject to a fine, or arrest, if you do not pay immediately.
- You owe back taxes, or there is a problem with your tax return.
- Your Social Security or other government benefits are suspended or compromised.
- You’ve been selected to receive free COVID-19 tests or vaccines in exchange for information.
What should you do?
- Do not answer or respond to calls or messages from people you do not know personally. You’re the first line of defense in the efforts to keep your money safe.
- Don’t ever make a payment to someone you don’t know, especially for things you’re unsure about.
- Record names, dates, and information for calls and messages you receive from government officials. This information is critical for banks and agencies to reference in any fraud investigation.
- When in doubt, do some quick research. Contact the government office they are calling from using a number found on their official government website.
- Especially if you have provided confidential information, it is imperative you notify your bank so they can properly safeguard your account.
- Report the fraud to the FTC at www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov and call your bank to let them know. Provide all the information you can gather concerning the imposter, and what information they may have obtained.
- Contact our ISB staff at (641) 472-3161, or send us a message through your online banking account.
In closing, I want to assure you that the ISB team is working diligently to defend our customers against fraud of all types. Technological advances have allowed banking to be done more conveniently, but with increased risks to users. We’re here to help you navigate your way through all of that. This Fraud Blog will be one of the many tools we offer to help keep you informed about current and emerging fraud topics.
Stay safe out there!