Beware of Coronavirus Stimulus Check Scams
5/1/2020 - Now more than ever, it is Westerra's priority to ensure that our members are well equipped with the essential resources and education involving Covid-19 stimulus check scams. As the Federal Government begins to send out checks to tens of millions of Americans, part of a massive Coronavirus Aid and relief package, scammers are looking for ways to deceive individuals.
Examples of Fraud:
- Check Fraud: The fraudster may send the victim a check for a larger amount and request that the victim return the remaining funds.
- Voice/Email Phishing: Scammers may call, text or email an individual and ask if they would like to receive their stimulus check sooner than their projected date. Victims may verify and "confirm" their personal information with the fraudster, thus compromising their identity.
- Call Spoofing: Incoming calls from the IRS pertaining to their stimulus check. Please keep in mind that the IRS will not reach out to you in regards to your stimulus check.
What You Should Know:
- The IRS will not call, email or text you to verify or request your financial, banking or personal information.
- Watch out for websites and social media attempts to request money or personal information.The official website is IRS.gov.
- Don't open surprise emails that look like they're coming from the IRS or click on attachments or links.
- Taxpayers should not provide personal or financial information or engage with potential scammers online or over the phone.
- Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com, then delete.
- Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.
Here are a some additional sites with more information on stimulus checks and scams:
Westerra is here to support our members and our community during these uncertain times. We want to ensure that you feel confident that we are here to protect you and your funds. Please feel free to reach out to Westerra's fraud team if you have any questions or concerns.
Beware of Coronavirus Scams
3/19/2020 - The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a windfall for fraudsters as they exploit the global thirst for knowledge on the virus. Fraudsters have launched Coronavirus-themed phishing attacks to deliver malware –typically credential-stealing banking Trojans. The phishing emails purport to be from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO posted an article on its website warning users of this scam. We want our members to be aware of these scams.
Fraudsters have also exploited Johns Hopkins University’s interactive Coronavirus dashboard containing an interactive map that tracks Coronavirus statistics by region. Cybersecurity firms have identified several fake Coronavirus interactive maps that infect user devices with credential-stealing malware. Fraudsters are circulating links to these malicious websites containing Coronavirus maps through social media and phishing emails.
Security blogger Brian Krebs reported several Russian cybercrime forums started selling infection kits that exploits John Hopkins University’s interactive Coronavirus dashboard as part of a Java-based malware deployment scheme.
There have also been reports of other Coronavirus-themed phishing campaigns aiming to spread malware, including:
Coronavirus advice-themed phishing emails purporting to provide advice on how to protect against the virus. The emails might claim to be from medical experts near Wuhan, China where the Coronavirus started.
Workplace policy-themed phishing emails about Coronavirus targeting an organization’s employees. For example, the emails may purport to come from the organization’s HR department alerting employees of a new pandemic policy.
Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Fraud
The Security Center brings you safety tips, security notices and the most current scam alerts to help protect you and your security online.
Social Media $200 Check Fraud Scam
1/17/2020 - Westerra's Fraud team has detected numerous accounts where our members (mostly minors) are being targeted by a fraud ring on social media that instructs them to provide their online banking credentials and their debit card number and PIN. The fraudsters then deposit multiple $200 checks into the member's account via remote deposit capture (taking a photo of the check) and then withdraws the funds via ATM, at a branch or at retail point of sale location. The majority of the targeted members are in Aurora and in east Denver.
Please be sure to review your transaction history to look for suspicious activity and contact Westerra with any questions or concerns.
Some Aurora residents personal info may have been compromised through Click2Gov when making water payments to the city.
Read more in the Dec. 31, 2019 article on CBS Denver4.
Tips for Avoiding Fraudulent Cashier's Checks:
- Be suspicious of offers from outside the United States.
- Be wary if a buyer sends more than they agreed to pay as salary or to purchase an item. Refuse to accept the check and insist that checks be made payable to you for the amount specified – even if it means not getting the job or not making the sale. Legitimate employers/buyers will not ask you to send cash back to them.
- Do not call the number listed on the check to confirm it is legitimate. Find the financial institution’s contact information independently, online or through directory assistance, and contact them yourself to verify the information.
- If you are selling an item, tell the buyer you will meet him at the financial institution that issued the check. That way you will know if the check is legitimate.
- If it is an out of state cashier's check, tell the buyer to cash it themselves. Treat a cashier's check like any check – with caution.
- Remember, you are responsible for any checks you deposit.
- You can report fake checks to www.fraud.org.
Possible Scenarios that may involve Fraudulent Cashier’s Checks:
- Online job
- New love interest
- Grant program
- Secret shopper jobs
- Rental property deposit
- “Friend” on Facebook offering to send you money
- You are unaware why you received a check
You can learn about current fraud scams by contacting your financial institution, through the National Consumers League, the Consumer Federation of America or by visiting the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC), a website monitored by the FBI in regards to online scams.
According to Regulation CC (Availability of Funds and Collection of Checks), financial institutions are required to make up to $5,000 in cashier’s checks immediately accessible. However, just because you’ave been given provisional credits, the check may not be good. The check still has to clear from the institution from which it was generated. This check clearing process generally takes 7-10 business days. . Please be weary that cashing a fraudulent check can negatively impact you.
If you have additional questions, or want to make sure a Westerra check is valid, please call us at 303-321-4209.
Equifax cybersecurity incident information
As you know, Equifax has announced a data breach, potentially impacting 143 million customers. Equifax recommends you go to the website they have set up for consumers to see if you were affected at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. You can also call the Equifax call center at 866-447-7559. They have set up protection measures you can take advantage of because of the breach.
In light of this incident, Westerra also recommends the following:
- Review your transaction history on an ongoing basis to see if any unauthorized transactions may have been made on your accounts. If you find any unauthorized activity, please contact us immediately at 303-321-4209 or 1-800-858-7212. Transactions can be easily monitored through Westerra's free Online Banking and Mobile Banking.
- Utilize Westerra’s CardNav App to manage and monitor your Westerra debit and credit card transactions. Download the CardNav App at the App Store (IOS) or Google Play (Android).
Westerra will continue to apply our security practices in the best interest of our membership.