Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Holiday Fraud Prevention: Stop the scammers this season

With the holidays approaching, many of us are thinking about spending quality time with family and friends in this season of giving and thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it’s anything but a time of rest for criminals bent on stealing your personal information and accessing your accounts.

Here at OneWest Bank, we’re committed to protecting your personal information from those scammers who are always striving for new ways to convince consumers they’re legit.

We want to help ensure you don’t fall prey to their tactics, so we’ve compiled a few tips and tools to help you prevent fraud:

  • Your online banking password is private. Our employees cannot see your password, and we will never ask you for it under any circumstances. But a scammer might call or text you - pretending to be a bank representative - and ask you for your password. Don't ever share it!

  • When you call us, use one of the phone numbers found on our official website or in the disclosures and other pre-printed materials we’ve provided to you. In fact, we recommend you add our phone number to your “Contacts” list in your mobile phone, so it’s handy. Phone numbers appearing in texts or an emails are less reliable – because the text or email may have been sent by a scammer posing as a bank representative.

  • Caller IDs are helpful, but the ones that pop up when you get an incoming call can be spoofed (faked). If you receive a call that seems suspicious, and the caller tries to reassure you by pointing out that the Caller ID matches one of our phone numbers, be cautious about the information you give to that caller. And feel free to ask them for their name, and tell them you’re going to call back at our published number, just to be sure you’re really dealing with a bank representative.

  • Did you call us or did we call you? It makes a difference, when it comes to the kinds of information our representatives may ask you to share with us.
    • When we call you, we won't ask you for your online banking user name, your password or a passcode. (If you're not familiar with the term "passcode," see our description below.) A caller who asks you for any of these three pieces of information may be a scammer!
    • When you call us, we will ask you questions intended to help us verify your identity. We do this because the caller might be someone attempting to impersonate you. So we will ask you for some personally identifying information, and that may include your online banking user name. (But we won’t ever ask you for your password.) We might also send a numeric passcode to the mobile phone number or email on record and ask you to recite it back to us. But that’s only when you call us. Beware of scammers who call you, and then ask you to recite a passcode back to them! They’re trying to gain access to your account!

  • What’s a passcode, and why does the bank use them? A passcode is a string of numbers we send via text message to the mobile phone number or email address on record for a customer, to verify that customer’s identity or to assist them in completing some type of transaction or change. Here are some examples:
    • When a customer has trouble logging in to online banking because they forgot their password, they can choose to have a passcode texted to the mobile phone number on record. That passcode can then be entered into the online banking login page, enabling the customer to re-set their password.
    • We might send a passcode to the mobile phone number on record when a customer logs into online banking from a computer or device we don’t recognize as the one normally used by that customer. (This can happen even when you’re using the same device you always use, but you’ve cleared the cookies we placed on that device to recognize it.) That passcode can then be entered into the online banking login page, enabling the customer to complete the steps needed to log in to online banking.
    • We might send a passcode to the mobile phone number on record when a customer has called us, to help verify that the caller is who they say they are. But again – we would only do that when the customer calls us, and never when we call the customer!

  • Passcode fraud has become a popular tool among scammers. Here are some ways to avoid becoming a victim of passcode fraud:
    • Read the text message that accompanies the passcode. Some messages explain why they are being sent. Or they may tell you whether the passcode is to be input on a screen or shared over the phone with a bank representative. Some may warn you not to tell the passcode to a caller. If you’re asked to use the passcode in a manner that’s inconsistent with the information appearing in the message, do not proceed and instead, reach out to us at 1-877-741-9378.
    • Never share a passcode with someone who calls you. No genuine bank representative would ask you to do that. The only time we would ask you to recite one back to us is when you have called us.
    • If you are not on the phone with the bank, and you get a passcode text message you didn’t expect or request, that’s a red flag that someone else may be trying to access your online banking account. If this happens, we recommend you contact us at 1-877-741-9378 so we can check for suspicious activity on your account.

  • Activity Alerts that seem suspicious. If you receive an alert about an activity on your account that you did not initiate or that seems suspicious, call us at 1-877-741-9378 so we can check it out. Here are some examples:
    • Advice of a password change that you did not initiate.
    • Advice of an electronic funds transfer that you did not authorize or initiate.
    • Advice of a debit card transaction that is unfamiliar to you.

Have questions? We’ve got lots of answers in the Privacy & Security section of our website, and we’re always here to help by phone, email or in person at your local branch.