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Texas Republic Bank Blog: All Blog Posts

10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers

Posted by John Henderson

FDIC Consumer News – Summer 2017

10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers: Plus the basics on how to protect your personal information and your money

The FDIC often hears from bank customers who believe they may be the victims of financial fraud or theft, and our staff members provide information on where and how to report suspicious activity. To help further, FDIC Consumer News includes crime prevention tips in practically every issue. As part of that coverage, we feature here a list of 10 scams that you should be aware of, plus key defenses to remember.

  1. Government “imposter” frauds: These schemes often start with a phone call, a letter, an email, a text message or a fax supposedly from a government agency, requiring an upfront payment or personal financial information, such as Social Security or bank account numbers.

    “They might tell you that you owe taxes or fines or that you have an unpaid debt. They might even threaten you with a lawsuit or arrest if you don’t pay,” said Michael Benardo, manager of the FDIC’s Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section. “Remember that if you provide personal information it can be used to commit fraud or be sold to identity thieves. Also, federal government agencies won’t ask you to send money for prizes or unpaid loans, and they won’t ask you to wire money to pay for anything.”

  2. Debt collection scams: Be on the lookout for fraudsters posing as debt collectors or law enforcement officials attempting to collect a debt that you don’t really owe. Red flags include a caller who won’t provide written proof of the debt you supposedly owe or who threatens you with arrest or violence for not paying.
  3. Fraudulent job offers: Criminals pose online or in classified advertisements as employers or recruiters offering enticing opportunities, such as working from home. But if you’re required to pay money in advance to “help secure the job” or you must provide a great deal of personal financial information for a “background check,” those are red flags of a potential fraud.

    Another variation on this scam involves fake offers of part-time jobs as “mystery shoppers,” who are people paid to visit retail locations and then submit confidential reports about the experience. In an example of the fraudulent version, your job might be to receive a $500 check, go “undercover” to your bank, deposit the check into your account there, and then report back about the service provided. But you also would be instructed to immediately wire your new “employer” $500 out of your bank account to cover the check you just deposited. Days later, the bank will inform you that the check you deposited is counterfeit and you just lost $500 to thieves. One warning sign of this type of scam is that the potential employer requires you to have a bank account.

  4. “Phishing” emails: Scam artists send emails pretending to be from banks, popular merchants or other known entities, and they ask for personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other valuable details. The emails usually look legitimate because they include graphics copied from authentic websites and messages that appear valid.

    “We have also seen emails with links to fake websites that are exact copies of real websites for FDIC-insured banks, except the web addresses are slightly different than the real ones,” said Doreen Eberley, director of the FDIC’s Division of Risk Management Supervision, which is in charge of the agency’s policies and programs related to financial crimes. “These sites are used to trick people into giving up valuable personal information that can be used to commit identity theft.”

  5. Mortgage foreclosure rescue scams: Today, many homeowners who are struggling financially and risk losing their homes may be vulnerable to false promises to refinance a mortgage under better terms or rates. But borrowers should always be on the lookout for scammers who falsely claim to be lenders, loan servicers, financial counselors, mortgage consultants, loan brokers or representatives of government agencies who can help avoid a mortgage foreclosure and offer a great deal at the same time. These criminals will present homeowners with what sounds like the life-saving offer they need. Instead, the homeowner is required to pay significant upfront fees or, even worse, tricked into signing documents that, in the fine print, transfer the ownership of the property to the criminal involved. Common warning signs of fraudulent mortgage assistance offers include a “guarantee” that foreclosure will be avoided and pressure to act fast.
  6. Lottery scams: You might be told you won a lottery (typically one that you never entered) and asked to first send money to the “lottery company” to cover certain taxes and fees. Similar examples involve bogus prize winnings and sweepstakes. “In one example, a scammer sent a letter to people using falsified FBI and FDIC letterhead telling them they won a popular, well-known lottery but that they needed to send money by wire transfer to a lottery ‘official’ in order to secure the winnings,” Benardo said. “The ‘official’ was really a crook hoping to trick people into sending money.”
  7. Elder frauds: Thieves sometimes target older adults to try to cheat them out of some of their life savings. For example, telemarketing scams may involve sales of bogus products and services that will never be delivered. Warning signs include unsolicited phone calls asking for a large amount of money before receiving the goods or services, and special offers for senior citizens that seem too good to be true, like an investment “guaranteeing” a very high return. To help seniors and their caregivers avoid financial exploitation, the FDIC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have developed Money Smart for Older Adults, a curriculum with information and resources (see our News Briefs).
  8. Overpayment scams: This popular scam starts when a stranger sends a consumer or a business a check for something, such as an item being sold on the internet, but the check is for far more than the agreed-upon sales price. The scammer then tells the consumer to deposit the check and wire the difference to someone else who is supposedly owed money by the same check writer. In a few days, the check is discovered to be a counterfeit, and the depositor may be held responsible for any money wired out of the bank account. Victims may end up owing thousands of dollars to the financial institution that wired the money, and sometimes they’ve also sent the merchandise to the fraud artists, too.
  9. “Ransomware”: This term refers to malicious software that holds a computer, smartphone or other device hostage by restricting access until a ransom is paid. The most common way ransomware and other malicious software spreads is when someone clicks on an infected email attachment or a link in an email that leads to a contaminated file or website. Malware also can spread across a network of linked computers or be passed around on a contaminated storage device, such as a thumb drive.
  10. Jury duty scams: A thief makes phone calls pretending to be a law enforcement official warning innocent people that they failed to appear for jury duty and threating an arrest unless a “fine” is paid immediately. And to pay up, the caller asks for debit account and PIN numbers, allowing the perpetrator to create a fake debit card and drain the account.

 

What You Can Do: Plus the basics on how to protect your personal information and your money

 

While we have described many forms of financial scams, the red flags to look out for are often similar. And so are the things you can do to help protect yourself and your money. Here are some basic precautions to consider, especially when engaging in financial transactions with strangers through email, over the phone or on the internet.

  • Avoid offers that seem “too good to be true.” As Eberley noted: “If someone promises ‘opportunities’ that are free or with surprisingly low costs or high returns, it is probably a scam. Be especially suspicious if someone pressures you into making a quick decision or to keep a transaction a secret.”
  • No matter how legitimate an offer or request may look or sound, don’t give your personal information, such as bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, Social Security numbers and passwords, to anyone unless you initiate the contact and know the other party is reputable.
  • Remember that financial institutions will not send you an email or call to ask you to put account numbers, passwords or other sensitive information in your response because they already have this information. To verify the authenticity of an email, independently contact the supposed source by using an email address or telephone number that you know is valid.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited emails or text messages asking you to open an attachment or click on a link. This is a common way for cybercriminals to distribute malicious software, such as ransomware. Be especially cautious of emails that have typos or other obvious mistakes.
  • Use reputable anti-virus software that periodically runs on your computer to search for and remove malicious software. Be careful if anyone (even a friend) gives you a thumb drive because it could have undetected malware, such as ransomware, on it. If you still want to use a thumb drive from someone else, use the anti-virus software on your computer to scan the files before opening them.
  • Don’t cash or deposit any checks, cashier’s checks or money orders from strangers who ask you to wire any of that money back to them or an associate. If the check or money order proves to be a fake, the money you wired out of your account will be difficult to recover.
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers “guaranteeing” to rescue your home from foreclosure. If you need assistance, contact your loan servicer (the company that collects the monthly payment for your mortgage) to find out if you may qualify for any programs to prevent foreclosure or to modify your loan without having to pay a fee. Also consider consulting with a trained professional at a reputable counseling agency that provides free or low-cost help. Go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website for a referral to a nearby housing counseling agency approved by HUD or call 1-800-569-4287.
  • Monitor credit card bills and bank statements for unauthorized purchases, withdrawals or anything else suspicious, and report them to your bank right away.
  • Periodically review your credit reports for signs of identity theft, such as someone obtaining a credit card or a loan in your name. By law, you are entitled to receive at least one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nation’s three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Start at AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. If you spot a potential problem, call the fraud department at the credit bureau that produced that credit report. If the account turns out to be fraudulent, ask for a “fraud alert” to be placed in your file at all three of the major credit bureaus. The alert tells lenders and other users of credit reports that you have been a victim of fraud and that they should verify any new accounts or changes to accounts in your name.
  • Contact the FDIC’s Consumer Response Center (CRC) if you have questions about possible scams or you are the victim of a scam experiencing difficulty resolving the issue with a financial institution. The CRC answers inquiries about consumer protection laws and regulations and conducts thorough investigations of complaints about FDIC-supervised institutions. If the situation involves a financial institution for which the FDIC is not the primary federal regulator, CRC staff will refer the matter to the appropriate regulator. Visit our webpage on submitting complaints or call 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342) Monday – Friday, 8am to 8pm (EST).

    To learn more about how to avoid financial scams, search by topic in back issues of FDIC Consumer News and the FDIC’s multimedia presentation Don’t Be an Online Victim. Also find tips from the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Posted June 13, 2017 | View

(560 Views)


Texas Republic Bank is a Top 100 Performing Bank in the Nation….AGAIN!

Posted by John Henderson

We are proud to announce that Texas Republic Bank was recently included in SNL Financial’s Top 100 performing Community Banks of 2016 with assets under $1 Billion. This achievement is further validated by the fact that we have made this prestigious list 3 out of the last 4 years with our highest ranking of #14 coming in 2016. Furthermore, this ranking means that Texas Republic Bank is in the top 1% in terms of performance of all community banks in the country. Congratulations to our team of professionals and a big thank you to all of our great customers for being a part of this achievement!

Now that’s “Banking like it oughta be!”

Posted March 22, 2017 | View

(1312 Views)


Frisco Young Entrepreneurs Academy

Posted by John Henderson

Over the past year, Texas Republic Bank was proud to sponsor the Frisco Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs Academy. Texas Republic Bank assisted with interviewing local students as they prepared and practiced for real life interviews that they will have in their future. Through this great program, Texas Republic Bank was introduced to Jessy Huang (pictured below), who is a local high school student and fulfilled the requirements of the 2016 Frisco Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs Academy. Jessy intends to pursue entrepreneurial activities in her career and future and we are certain she will be successful with whatever endeavors she attempts.   Texas Republic Bank takes great pride in partnering with these young local entrepreneurs and we look forward to the contributions of future generations.

  

Posted January 17, 2017 | View

(1932 Views)


Debit Card Fraud Prevention

Posted by TXRB Staff

Detect and defend against debit card fraud with real time email transaction alerts.  If you discover fraud, you may quickly deactivate the debit card through our mobile banking app.  Contact us at 972-334-0700 to learn more!

Posted June 29, 2016 | View

(3066 Views)


Scholarship Dash 2016

Posted by TXRB Staff

Texas Republic Bank is proud to be the Platinum sponsor for Scholarship Dash, the 5K and Fun Run Dallas area event you don’t want to miss! Join us, Saturday April 9th 2016, on the UTD (University of Texas at Dallas) Richardson, TX Campus for an exciting, nonprofit* 5K and Fun Run including awards, medals, t-shirts, free breakfast by Desperado’s Catering and door prizes (gift cards for RunOn and Massage Green Spa and discount coupons for Papa Murphy’s and more). The event incl…udes a USATF certified and timed 5K, and an untimed Fun Run.

Don’t forget bragging rights! We encourge you to support your favorite high school or university by wearing your school colors at the event. Special recognition will be given for schools that are well represented (individual runners, teams, volunteers, cheering sections). Megaphones Awards will go to runners in each category. Win one and brag loud and proud!

Thank you in advance for supporting the scholarship program and being a part of a legacy that includes over $300,000.00 in scholarships awarded since 1983.

* Richardson Rotary Foundation – 503(c)(3)

Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law

scholarshipdash2016

Posted February 25, 2016 | View

(3507 Views)


2015 Medium Business of the Year

Posted by TXRB Staff

We are honored to be awarded the 2015 Medium Business of the Year in Frisco! A big thank you to our staff, customers and community for making this possible.

mediumbusinessoftheyeartrbgroup

Posted February 8, 2016 | View

(3513 Views)


Avoiding Scams this Holiday Season

Posted by TXRB Staff


We wanted to make you all aware of the following article from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website that touches on what we feel are important reminders this holiday season. The highlights of the article are copied below and the entire article can be found at: https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/avoiding-scams-holiday-season
 
“Web-based shopping starts to take off this time of the year,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) New York Supervisory Special Agent Brian Herbert.  “It’s very easy and convenient for people to get their shopping done online, but often, that great deal can end up being a counterfeit product.”
 
According to Herbert, who works with HSI New York’s El Dorado Financial Crimes Task Force, consumers must be aware at all times to avoid hoaxes and scams when shopping online.  However, during the holiday season, consumers must heighten their awareness and not fall deals that appear “too good to be true.”
 
“When we talk to shoppers who were duped, they have always truly believed that it was a good deal,” Herbert said.  “In many cases, it’s generational as older consumers are not as Internet savvy.”
 
HSI special agents advise consumers to make sure that companies have verified email addresses and accept credible payment options such as PayPal.  Not only are consumers at risk of being targeted by hoaxes and other scams, but when they provide personal information, they are also placing themselves at risk of identity theft.
 
“During the holidays, people are rushing and trying to get things done, and counterfeiters are aware of that and looking to take advantage,” Herbert said.  “You have to be aware of your surroundings whether you’re doing your shopping online, or walking the streets buying goods from vendors.”
 
ICE involves itself in hoax and scam prevention through its enforcement actions and by educating the public on risks.  During the holidays, HSI special agents offer the following tips to avoid buying counterfeit merchandise:
•If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
•Buy from reputable manufacturers and stores.
•Research online sellers before purchasing.  The comments of people who have made previous purchases may be especially helpful.
•Don’t buy anything advertised via bulk email (“SPAM”).
•Be suspicious of websites that do not provide a toll-free contact number.
•When submitting financial information online, verify that the website is secure and that payments are submitted to website addresses beginning with https://.
 

Posted December 9, 2015 | View

(3638 Views)


Helpful Consumer Tips: Consumer Scams and Preparing Your Will

Posted by TXRB Staff

Consumer Scams: Know When You’re Being Fooled

Unfortunately, there will always be scam artists out there. These people are looking to make a few bucks, sometimes much more, on trusting and unsuspecting consumers. Scams aren’t always easy to spot, even for savvy consumers, so remember to do your due diligence and if something seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Below are common consumer scams to be aware of to help ensure they don’t happen to you or someone you love.
Merchandise Fraud

This is often the top consumer complaint, especially with the continuously rising rate of internet shopping. Let’s say you’ve found the perfect product online—one that you’ve been looking for a while and the price is substantially less than anywhere else for an identical product. While very rarely you may find an amazing deal, what happens more often is the product is nonexistent or misrepresented. If you’re ordering from a company or website you’ve never heard of, start by checking the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org). Then search for reviews from people who have purchased the same product from that retailer. Lastly, use a credit card for the purchase if at all possible, particularly when buying online or over the phone. If you’re victimized and you’ve paid with cash or by check, you could be out of luck. If the order doesn’t arrive, you can challenge the purchase under federal credit-card rules. Debit-card purchases offer less protection, although some banks provide additional safeguards.

Fake Checks

This common scheme can occur in many forms, be it a fake check for something you’ve sold or payment for a “work from home” or “make fast cash” opportunity. Bogus checks can be used to pay for something you’re selling, especially through local sites such as Craigslist. It could be for a smaller amount if you’re selling a piece of furniture or a larger amount if you’re selling something like a car. While these checks may look official and certified, there’s no guarantee that’s the case. It’s always best to ask for payment in cash or a wire transfer if it’s for a larger amount of money. If you do accept a check, contact the institution whose name appears on it before finalizing the exchange with the buyer. If you deposit a fake check, it will bounce and you’ll be on the hook with your bank to settle the fee.

Phishing and Identity Theft

Scammers often use emails, phone calls or other methods of communication to trick people into revealing their passwords, credit card information or Social Security numbers, in addition to other personal information that can be used to steal identities, open credit lines or other damaging activities. Never respond to an email or phone call asking for financial passwords or other personal information, no matter how urgent it seems. Instead, contact your bank or the business that made the request to verify it is legitimate. These institutions will never ask for this type of information via email, no matter how credible it looks. Also, never click on hyperlinks in suspicious email messages and keep your computer’s antivirus and anti-phishing software up to date.

Advance-Fee Loans

This is one of those “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” situations. This involves a company promising to get you a loan or credit card even if you have bad or zero credit. However, after paying the required fee, either you never hear from the company again or you’re offered a debit or stored-value card. You will never be asked to pay an advance fee for a loan, even if it’s for “insurance,” “processing” or “paper work.” Fun fact: It’s illegal for a company doing business by phone to promise a loan and require a fee before it’s delivered. Your credit score is important when it comes to loans and credit cards so if a company says it doesn’t matter, that’s a red flag.

The Grandparent Scam

The elderly are often targeted by scam artists who view them as easy targets. This scheme works by a scammer, perhaps someone who identifies himself as a grandson or nephew, saying he needs help because of an accident or arrest in a foreign country so money needs to be wired immediately. The bottom line is don’t give money to anyone without verifying his or her identity. If you get a call from a friend or relative asking for help, politely hang up and call the person’s home or cell phone number to find out if the call truly came from this person and if the emergency if real. If you’re unable to reach the person, call another relative or close friend to confirm the story.

Phony Charities

Be it an email or phone call urging you to support a charity that tugs at your heartstrings, never immediately respond to this type of solicitation. Some charities are outright frauds and others do little of what they say they do. Instead, first check with the major charity watchdogs—the American Institute of Philanthropy (www.charitywatch.org), the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org) and Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org)—to ensure it is legit. Many con artists use names similar to legitimate charities so ensure the name is exact. Also, organizations like the Red Cross will provide a list of charities that need help during disasters.

Sweepstakes Scams

Everyone wants to win a big prize. However, sweepstakes mailings or prize-related phone calls asking for an advance payment to cover taxes, shipping and handling, or other incidental costs of processing or delivering your fabulous prize are not real. You’ll find that nothing is ever mailed to you. Also, by law, buying services or merchandise can’t increase your odds of winning a sweepstakes so just say no.

The above is provided by the Independent Bankers Association of Texas as a public service. This information is provided with the understanding that the association is not engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting or other professional services. If specific expert assistance is required, the services of a competent profession should be sought.

Preparing Your Will

By placing your wishes on paper, you help ensure that your heirs avoid unnecessary hassles and that a life’s worth of possessions end up in the right hands. While preparing a will may seem like an overwhelming task, in most cases it is simple and straightforward. Below are tips to help you get started.

—Writing your will isn’t a task anyone looks forward to doing. You’re not only acknowledging your own inevitable demise but actively planning for it. In fact, an AARP survey found that two out of five Americans over the age of 45 don’t have a will. However, creating a will is one of the most important things you can do for your loved ones.

Options for Creating Your Will

Hiring a lawyer is the surest way to get peace of mind that your wishes will be fulfilled. The cost can vary depending on the experience of the lawyer, the complexity of your estate and the going rates in your area. If you live in a metropolitan area, call around to see if you can save money with a lawyer in a nearby small town. If you belong to a group legal service plan, a simple will may be offered at a reduced price or even free. You can also check with your state’s bar association for an attorney or legal clinic in your area.

In the last couple of decades, several Internet-based products have become available that allow consumers to create their own will. Also, it is strongly advised that spouses create separate wills, rather than a joint will.

Think About the Small Stuff

While partners generally list each other in their wills, it’s helpful to prepare for the situation if you and your partner pass away at the same time by naming the beneficiaries in that instance. Retirement accounts and life insurance policies name beneficiaries and aren’t typically included in wills. If you want to leave sentimental items to particular people, specify that in your will, not in a non-binding note left with your will.

If you are a small business owner, talk to your accountant, banker and lawyer about what will happen to your business after your death to help avoid hardship for family and employees.

Name a Guardian

For parents it is extremely important that your will names a guardian for your minor children. Otherwise, a court will make this decision after your death. While it’s an enormous decision, it’s certainly one you would like to make rather than have made for you should a tragic event occur.

Name an Executor

In your will, you will also need to name the executor. This is the person who carries out the wishes stated in your will and wraps everything up after your

death

—paying taxes and debts, distributing the property in your will, closing your accounts, etc. This person needs to be responsible and trustworthy.

Updates to Your Will

It’s important to keep your will accurate and up to date. Because life changes very well may occur after you draft your will, it is important to review it periodically and amend when necessary.

Where to Store Your Will

You may store your will in a safe deposit box or a waterproof and fireproof safe in your house. Many attorneys will store clients’ wills. Just remember, your executor will need access to it after your death.

Big picture—creating a will isn’t fun for anyone but it’s easier than you think. You just need to sit down and do it.

The above is provided by the Independent Bankers Association of Texas as a public service. This information is provided with the understanding that the association is not engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting or other professional services. If specific expert assistance is required, the services of a competent profession should be sought.

Posted October 14, 2015 | View

(3787 Views)


Texas Republic Bank is a Top 100 Performing Bank in the Nation….AGAIN!

Posted by TXRB Staff

Texas Republic Bank was recently included in SNL Financial’s Top 100 performing Community Banks of 2014 with assets under $500 million. This achievement is further validated by the fact that we are the only bank, for the second year in a row, to make this top 100 list in Dallas or Collin counties. Furthermore, we are the only bank in Texas that is located in a major metropolitan area to make the list.  Texas Republic Bank is 1 of only 11 banks in Texas that made the top 100 list. Thank you to all of our great customers for being a part of this achievement!

Posted March 27, 2015 | View

(4458 Views)


Scholarship Dash

Posted by TXRB Staff

emotionheader

Scholarship Dash is the 5K and Fun Run Dallas area event you don’t want to miss! Join us, Saturday April 18th 2015, on the UTD (University of Texas at Dallas) Richardson, TX Campus for an exciting, nonprofit* 5K and Fun Run including awards, free t-shirts, free breakfast by Desperado’s Catering, refreshments, entertainment and music. The event includes a USATF certified and timed 5K, and an untimed Fun Run.

Don’t forget bragging rights! We encourage you to support your favorite high school or university by wearing your school colors at the event. Special recognition will be given for schools that are well represented (individual runners, teams, volunteers, cheering sections). Megaphones Awards will go to runners in each category. Win one and brag loud and proud!

Thank you for supporting the scholarship program and being a part of a legacy that includes over $300,000.00 in scholarships awarded since 1983.

Posted March 14, 2015 | View

(4495 Views)