Members of the Victor-Farmington Rotary Club recently learned about current consumer fraud scams during a program presented by security officials from Canandaigua National Bank.
Jason Ingalls, vice president and security officer for CNB, joined Joseph Hernandez from the bank’s security division in discussing scams that recently came to their attention through complaints from bank customers and interactions with banking, government and law enforcement officials.
They said anyone can be the victim of one of these scams, which range from identity theft to fraudulent emails and telephone calls. The perpetrators of these frauds use deception to convince the victim that they are dealing with a legitimate source or institution.
Ingalls and Hernandez provided a handout with information on available resources that help consumers who think they are the target of a consumer fraud scheme. Banks and credit card companies often are the first institutions to become aware of the fraud, and will work with law enforcement, governmental institutions and credit agencies to discover the scammer’s identity and pursue a criminal prosecution, when possible.
Both speakers said consumers who use online banking resources need to ensure they are dealing with a bona fide website. Scammers often utilize fraudulent websites or links that appear to be genuine, but are created to fool the victim. Ingalls and Hernandez cautioned against giving out personal information when using a public computer and stressed the need to create a strong internet password. Periodically changing passwords is a recommended procedure to help reduce exposure to fraud.
Individuals should be wary of messages that implore them to send money immediately to help a family member who has an emergency situation and needs the money. This scam is operated frequently and plays on the natural human tendency to help family members in an emergency.
The speakers discussed the issue of phishing, or the attempt to gather sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by someone posing as a legitimate business interest via the phone or internet.
Ingalls and Hernandez reviewed steps a consumer can take to reduce their vulnerability to identity theft. These recommendations included reviewing credit reports at least once a year; using paper shredders to destroy personal documents; never giving out personal information over the phone, especially on a call one did not originate; not opening suspicious emails; using secure, locked mailboxes; and protecting social security numbers.
The program ended with a Q&A session.