Westerra’s 12 Days of Fraud Protection Westerra has round-the-clock security monitoring measures in place; however, we encourage you to stay vigilant this holiday season. While the holiday season is known for generosity and giving, it's also a perfect time for scammers to try to line their stockings with your hard-earned money and personal information. In the spirit of the season, we have compiled our "12 Days of Fraud Prevention." Each of these scams lands imposters squarely on our naughty list.
Here are some tips to help you avoid them:
Day 1: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Any notice, call, or text message claiming you've "won" a sweepstakes, money, or gift card is more likely a scam than legitimate. Scammers will often request that you send payment for fees or taxes prior to them sending your prize. Be sure to verify the source, and when in doubt, do not attempt to collect.
Day 2: Be cautious of communication you are not expecting. If you receive an email from an unknown party, take a moment to carefully examine its contents for misspellings and grammatical errors, in addition to checking the spelling of the email address from which it was sent. If you do not have accounts or a previous business relationship with the sender, that’s a red flag that the email might be a phishing attempt! Do not click links from any unsolicited emails. Before giving out any information over the phone, ensure that you are speaking to a verified source by hanging up and calling them back at a trusted phone number. Beware: There are look-alike sites with fraudulent phone numbers on the web, so ensure that the website you use to confirm that a phone number is legitimate is an official website.
Day 3: Be wary of pending/special delivery messages. ‘Tis the season for increased “pending/special delivery” scams. With these scams, text messages tend to be the scammers’ preferred communication method. Many times, a message will request that you make a small payment to ensure that your package is delivered timely. Though the request is only for a small amount, what they are really after is your debit or credit card information. Never click links in unsolicited emails or text, and do not provide personal information to unknown individuals.
Day 4: Watch out for fake charities. Imposters play on the hearts of good people, especially during the holidays, when so many people are giving of their time and money. Beware of charity scams! You may receive a call or email asking for donations to a certain nonprofit organization; however, while the name may sound similar to a well-known charity, it's actually a fake one. Visit a charity’s website directly to make any donations.
Day 5: Avoid being duped into buying used gift cards. Scrooges will scratch off the security strip covering the activation code on the back of a gift card offered for sale in a store so that they can register and use the card online without buying it — leaving someone else to unknowingly purchase a card that has already been stripped of its value. Make sure you check the activation code before purchasing any gift card, and never buy a gift card and then send its information over email or text to someone you don’t know (or who is only claiming to be someone you know) from work or your personal circle.
Day 6: Don’t give the Grinch your digits. There's nothing worse than having presents stolen by the Grinch … except when it’s your identification that he steals! Imposters are looking to use your personal information — such as your name, address, mother's maiden name, or Social Security number — to commit fraud. Never provide your personal information or financial information during a call you did not initiate. Avoid carrying your Social Security card, and do not have the number printed on your checks, driver's license, or other financial documents. Never respond to an email or "pop-up" message on your computer claiming there’s some problem with your credit card, internet, or account. Lastly, password-protect all your financial information whenever the option is available.
Day 7: Don’t be hypnotized by puppy eyes. Many people believe that the holidays are a perfect time to introduce a new member to the family in the form of a new pet. Scammers pose as reputable breeders looking to sell puppies, kittens, or other pets, often at a discounted rate. Once you send money for a deposit or purchase, additional requests for shipping and insurance usually follow. Ensure that you have seen, in person, the pet you’re considering purchasing, or that you’ve completed thorough research on the breeder or person selling the pet. If not, you may not only be out the puppy you thought you were welcoming into your home, but also your money.
Day 8: Be alert to spoofed-number imposters. Imposters impersonate financial institutions' call centers by spoofing their phone number to make it look like they are calling from their credit union or bank. They may claim they are calling to verify a fraud alert on your account or need to approve a "pending" charge, and that is why you can't see it on your account currently. They will ask you to provide your online banking user ID and password, card information, or for the one-time password. Remember: Westerra will never call to ask for this information! If you are ever asked to supply this information over the phone, immediately hang up. If you did share any information, immediately call Westerra to report the situation.
Day 9: Beware of mobile payment scams. Instead of gifts, imposters will pull out tricks from Santa's bag this year! Make sure, when sending money using your mobile phone, that you send only to individuals and businesses you know and trust. Person-to-person (P2P) transfers should never be used to purchase goods and services but only as a personal payment method for transferring funds to family and friends.
Day 10: Say no to remote access. Be cautious when giving anyone remote access into any of your devices, including your phone or computer. Only allow remote access to a person you contacted at a verified phone number, and never provide a one-time passcode (OTP) to anyone.
Day 11: Verify your contact info with Westerra. It only takes a few minutes to verify that your email, phone number, full name, and address are correct in our system. Doing so will ensure that we can verify your identity and send important communications related to your account or activity. To update your personal information, call 303-321-4209 or visit us in person at one of our branch locations (don't forget to bring your ID!). You can also verify your personal information by logging into your Online Banking App and clicking on My Profile > Make Edits.
Day 12: Remember that knowledge is the best gift of all. Stay informed on the latest cybersecurity news and scams to ensure that your personal and account information remain secure. Visit Westerra’s Security Center to sign up for alerts and access information from “Stickley on Security,” a company that provides education on, awareness of, and solutions for addressing cybersecurity risks.
Your financial well-being is always our top priority! Here at Westerra, we are passionate about ensuring that your accounts and personal information are safe and secure, giving you peace of mind this holiday season. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 303-321-4209, email us at email@example.com, or visit us in person at one of our branch locations.
From all of us at Westerra, we hope the information provided in our “12 Days of Fraud Prevention” helps to make your holiday season a safe and happy one!