Raising A Red Flag
You may not know it, but fraud is currently ravaging our Northwest Colorado communities. Crimes of this nature (such as scams) are less visible as they get little-to-no press and their victims are often silent. At YVB we want to raise awareness about fraud since we see first-hand the devastation it brings. Each Friday in June we’ll be bringing fraud into focus: we’ll highlight popular scams, go over what to do if you’re a victim, and share prevention tips so that we can help each other rise above deception.
Becca Knowles, Vice President, Senior Operations & Security Officer with Yampa Valley Bank (YVB), now spends about 40% of her time dealing with the aftermath of fraud. Since 2020 she has seen an alarming increase in cases. “Fraud has taken off exponentially and is increasingly more sophisticated, so even the smartest among us are falling for these scams. We need to educate our family and community as much as possible to protect ourselves from the bad guys.”
What has caused the escalation in fraud? The internet has become vital to daily life during COVID as more transactions, business and personal exchanges have moved online. And while the web is useful, it is also the ideal platform for scammers to obtain personal information (i.e. social security numbers, passwords, and answers to security questions). Many people isolated by the pandemic have turned to social media for friendship and romance, which has opened the door for scam artists who impersonate potential companions.
With advanced technology, fraudsters are able to reach more people and gain their trust. They mimic familiar telephone numbers and send emails infected with malware that appear to come from known sources. Fraudsters can even alter their voice to sound like someone you recognize. It’s very tricky!
Hard & Fast Rules for Preventing Fraud:
- Never give out your personal information over phone or email. No financial or government institution will ever call and ask for it. If an organization does call to discuss a sensitive matter, request to phone them back at the listed number, which shouldn’t be a problem if the call is legitimate.
- Don’t click links or open attachments found in emails you weren’t expecting, even if they seem to be from a legitimate source like Amazon or Apple. This can lead to malware–a serious breach of your computer’s security.
- Learn how to spot a scammer: According to the FTC, scammers often pretend to be from a business or organization you recognize. Many times they say you’ve either won a prize or you have a problem, like overdue taxes or a computer virus. Scammers put tremendous pressure on you to act immediately and make threats to keep you on the line. They typically ask you to pay in a very specific way, such as a money transfer, through a payment app, or with gift cards.
Look out for YVB’s forthcoming Focus on Fraud articles each Friday in June, which will shed more light on this serious problem and explain how to avoid it. We encourage you to visit our Education Center to find out more, and to start talking about fraud with family and friends who will undoubtedly benefit from learning more too.
LEARN MORE IN OUR EDUCATION CENTER