Authorities have identified a new method of external transfer fraud that targets the elderly. Here are a few tips about how to protect yourself and loved ones against bank fraud and identify theft.
The Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers are at risk. Younger generations are tech savvy—they were born into a world of smart phones and social media. And they don’t publish their direct contact information in readily available media like the phone book. Older generations do! They publish their names, addresses, and telephone numbers. From these, fraudsters obtain data from which to reference against Internet records.
Fraud often begins when thieves try to extract personal information over the telephone. They call their victims and impersonate banks, health care providers, or insurance companies. Under the auspices of goodwill, their targets share account and social security numbers. Please remind loved ones that their service providers (banks, health care companies, etc.) don’t ask for personal information over the phone—they already have it.
After they’ve sleuthed personal data, the fraudster will use the data to exploit vulnerable access points. One example includes trying to enroll in online banking using the information collected from their victims.
We pay close attention to new online banking enrollees. If someone born in 1924 activates online banking, we verify it. While it’s not outside the realm of possibilities for a 92-year-old to enroll in online banking— and we’ve seen it—it’s more likely we’re looking at fraud. If a fraudster gains access, they may use online banking’s external transfer feature to move money out of victims’ accounts and into accounts at other banks.
To setup an external transfer with Andover State Bank, you must ask a bank representative to unlock the feature. Don’t be surprised when we ask lots of questions! We do this to protect both you and the bank.
And we have to say this: fraudsters are clever. Online banking providers allow users to name or tag transactions. A fraudster may transfer money out of a bank account and title it “Credit Card Payment.” For an unsuspecting victim, this looks like normal activity.
So how do you protect against this and other types of fraud? Here are a few suggestions:
(1) Check your account balance daily. Banks offer several ways for you to access your account. Use them.
(2) Request paperless statements. Skeptics say banks encourage this to save money. We do; but, more importantly, we suggest it to keep your personal information out of vulnerable places like mailboxes.
(3) Talk to your parents and grandparents about their banking habits. The Greatest Generation, with their storied accomplishments, has a great weakness: they refuse to ask for help. Understandably so, they answered the world’s call when it needed them most. Now they need you. Ask questions:
Do you ever get phone calls from your bank asking for account information?
Has anyone ever asked for money over the phone and told you “not to tell anyone?”
Are they on a first name basis with someone at their bank?
(4) Computers entered the mainstream after Baby Boomers turned 40. Don’t assume your parents or grandparents know how digital banking works. Ask them to show you how they access their accounts through their phones and online.
(5) Know your banker. In today’s era of transnational super banks, staff regularly cycle through branch locations. Next time you visit a bank, ask for a personal banker’s business card and direct line. Not all telephones at banks are answered by computers.
(No telephone lines at Andover State Bank are answered by computers. It’s just one of the ways we offer Real. Personal. Service.)
(6) Use Online Banking to access your statement monthly.
(7) And, of course, our favorite: balance your checkbook. A smartly balanced checkbook is the best way to prevent or to catch fraud.
By no means is this a comprehensive list! Ask your banker for suggestions. Use the Internet to search for ways to protect against fraud. Please, talk to your loved ones about bank fraud, and ask them questions about how they manage their online banking services.