Recent Events in the news

 

There is an increase in criminals making phone calls and they may provide fake details about potential fraud on your account to trick you into giving additional information about your account(s). Their goal is to gather enough personal information to impersonate you to the Bank, and commit actual fraud. If you receive one of these calls, please do not provide any personal information, write down the number you received the suspicious call from, and immediately call the Bank of the West Contact Center at (800) 488-2265, option 3 (TTY 1-800-659-5495).

Please remember we will NEVER ask you for your password, PIN or OTP code.

Fraudsters will often promise to pay customers large sums of money for helping them move funds to another account. Moving money for someone you don't know is illegal and can place your own bank accounts at risk.

Amazon, Microsoft, and the Internal Revenue Service don’t call or email you asking for payment via gift cards or wires, nor will they ask to obtain remote access your computer. Only fraudsters pretending to work for these companies will operate in this way.

World Password Day—Successfully Protect your Passwords and PINs

Passwords and PINs protect sensitive data and it is critical to keep them safe. Hackers have sophisticated password-breaking tools that can easily defeat passwords based on dictionary words (like “sunshine”) and common patterns, such as capitalizing the first letter. Fortunately, everyone can learn how to make and manage stronger passwords.

Creating strong passwords offers greater security for minimal effort. It’s an easy way to strengthen security both at work and at home. Learn more 

FBI Alert - Technical and Customer Support Fraud

Tech and customer support fraud involves a criminal posing as a tech/customer support service to defraud unwitting individuals. Criminals may offer a resolution to a compromised email or bank account, or a computer virus and then take advantage of the computer access to scam the consumer. Recent reports have shown criminals claiming to be support staff for financial institutions, utility companies, or cryptocurrency exchanges.

If you suspect your computer or accounts have been compromised, contact your financial institution, change all passwords, and take steps to protect your identity. Then inform your local law enforcement agency as well as file a complaint with the FBI at ic3.gov. Learn more

New Crypto Payment Scam Alert

There's a new spin on scammers asking people to pay with cryptocurrency. It involves an impersonator, a QR code, and a trip to a store (directed by a scammer on the phone) to send your money to them through a cryptocurrency ATM. Remember: Nobody from the government, law enforcement, utility company, or prize promoter will ever tell you to pay them with cryptocurrency. If someone does, it's a scam, every time. Any unexpected tweet, text, email, call, or social media message — particularly from someone you don't know — asking you to pay them in advance for something, including with cryptocurrency, is a scam. Learn more from the FTC

Check Scams are on the Rise

In a fake check scam, a person you don’t know asks you to deposit a check— sometimes for several thousand dollars, and usually for more than you are owed — and send some of the money back to them or to another person. The scammers always have a good story to explain why you can’t keep all the money. Fake checks come in many forms. They might look like business or personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or a check delivered electronically. Learn more about fake check scams. Click here for an infographic from the ABA.

Amazon or Tech Support Scams

The Bank’s Fraud Prevention Team has identified a scam trend customers should be aware of. This scam typically begins with a phone call prompting you to speak to an Amazon representative. The fraudster will tell you that you have unauthorized transactions on your Amazon account and ask if you have a laptop or a PC to get a refund. The fraudster will ask to take over your computer via a screen-sharing or other “support” tool, accessing your online banking account to transfer funds from your savings to checking account and then request funds via Zelle®, wire, or gift cards for payment sent to them.

Avoid accepting unanticipated calls from anyone claiming to be from Amazon or any other business, and never allow a third party to share your screen or control your computer unless you are going through a known, secure channel initiated by you. Be particularly alert for any business or individual that requests payment or refund via nontraditional methods. Call the business yourself to validate the information and never provide your banking credentials to anyone.

Scams and Social Media

Data released by the FTC shows that the number of complaints about scams that started on social media more than tripled in the last year. People reported losing more than $117 million to this type of scam in just the first six months of 2020 compared to $134 million for all of 2019, according to the FTC's latest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight.

Online shopping topped the list of complaints from consumers who reported a scam to the FTC that originated on social media. Of these consumers, many were responding to an ad they saw on social media and reported that the item they ordered never arrived. Most of those consumers (94 percent) who identified the social media service in their complaint cited Facebook or Instagram as the platform they used.

Romance Scams

Other top consumer complaints about scams that started on social media related to romance scams or economic relief or income opportunities, which often target people who have lost a job or other income because of the pandemic. About half of all romance scam reports to the FTC since 2019 involve social media, usually on Facebook or Instagram.

For more information and tips on how to avoid being scammed while on social media, check out the FTC's data spotlight.

Fake prize offers don’t pay

The FTC knows that people who talk about scams are less likely to fall for them, and we hope to spark discussions by offering conversation-starting ideas.

Prize and lottery scams can start many ways, but they often begin with an unexpected phone call. The scammers may claim to be from the government. Or an official-sounding organization. They make wild claims about big winnings, and demand payment up front. If you get a call like this, hang up. You probably already know that. But you may know someone who doesn't. So give a call to someone who might be a bit isolated, who could use a reminder about these scams. Chances are, they would like to hear from you, and have a chance to talk about how things are going and what's on their mind.

Here are a few tips you can share about prize and lottery scams when you chat:

  • Legitimate contests don't ask you to pay a fee, or give your bank account or credit card number to get your prize.
  • Never send money by wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency. Anyone who asks you to pay for things that way is a scammer.
  • Don't trust caller ID. Scammers can make it look like they're calling from anywhere.

After you talk, invite your friend or relative to call you back if they have questions, or if they get a surprise phone call. If they say they already spotted a scam or sent money, please ask them to report to ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You're welcome to file report for someone, if they ask for help.

Justice News

Get the latest updates on fraud arrests and recoveries that the Department of Justice is pursuing.