You Can Never Be Too Informed.
Tax Fraud Safety Tips
IRS type scams continue to happen no matter the time of year. Usually, these types of scams come in the form of phone calls, claiming that you owe back taxes or tax penalties. It is important to be aware of these types of scams and how to protect yourself.
Per the IRS website, the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having sent you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use only a specific method of payment, such as a pre-paid debit card.
- Ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement agencies to arrest you for failing to pay.
Online Password Security Tips
At F&M Bank, we value your confidentiality and security. Internet and password security is very important. With the rising number of online scams, viruses, and hackers, having secure passwords for your confidential and financial information is of the utmost importance.
At F&M, we always recommend using a combination of upper/lower case letters, numeric characters, and special characters. Follow these tips and suggestions for a more secure password:
- Never use your name, nickname, child's name, pet's name, or spouse's name for your password. These can be easy to guess. Try instead using things like, your favorite singer/actor, flavor of ice cream, season, television show, or song.
- When choosing numeric characters, stay away from personal ID numbers such as your month/day of birth, the last 4 of your social, or your phone number. You will also want to stay away from ordered numbers like 1234, 4567, 8910. Try instead using things such as your height in cm or inches, your family shoe sizes, an old address, the year of a non-public milestone, or a random combination.
- Replace letters with symbols or numbers: i = !, e = 3, s = $, a = @
- Spell words backwards or transpose numbers.
- Never give out your password or write it down where someone can find it
- Use different passwords for different sites.
- If a site doesn't prompt you to update your password at least every 6 months, make sure to do it yourself.
Facebook/Social Media Scam
- Always keep your pages set to private.
- If you receive a friend request from an unknown person and you have little to no mutual connections, do not accept it.
- If you receive a friend request from someone you are already friends with, contact their current page to see if they have been hacked and deny any messages from the new request.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
ATM/Pay at the Pump Card Skimmers
In the last several months, there have been reports of ATM or Pay at the Pump card skimmers. These skimmers have been found as close as Camp Douglas, West Salem, and La Crosse.
What is a skimmer? A skimmer records data stored on the magnetic stripe or in the chip of a debit or credit card, which is then transmitted back to the installer to make duplicate cards.
Some more advanced scammers may also use tiny cameras to capture your PIN when you enter it on the keypad. A new type of skimmer is called a deep-insert skimmer, a tiny device that goes inside ATM card slots - which is very hard to detect.
How do I know if there is a skimmer? Skimmers, especially as they continue to advance, can be very hard to detect.
Here are some ways that you can protect yourself:
• Examine the ATM slot where you insert your card. Try to shake it around to make sure that it doesn’t come loose. If it’s moving up and down in your hand, there may be a skimmer attached. Contact the manager of the merchant immediately.
• Always shield the PIN pad with your hand when entering in your PIN. This will help keep that number secure.
• If possible, only use bank-affiliated ATMs or indoor ATMS. These are less likely to have skimming devices installed, however they are not immune to it and you should still check.
• If possible, avoid using your debit card at Pay at the Pump terminals. Pay inside if you must use your debit card.
• Check your bank and credit card activity on a daily basis: If your account is compromised, you may be able to catch it quickly and avoid further damage and losses.
If you do fall victim to debit or credit card fraud, report it to your financial or credit card company immediately. You may have charge back rights on fraudulent purchases.
Prize Winning Scams
F&M Bank employees helped save someone from being scammed out of $5,000. This individual was contacted and told they won a vacation package, but in order to secure the prize they would need to pay for the vacation up front and then be reimbursed. With help and advice from F&M Bank employee, Bob Bandoli – Cash Management Director, this individual was able to stop the funds from being mailed out.
Anyone can fall victim to a scam. Most scams are very well put together, thought out, and very believable. Prize and lottery scams have been around for years, however they continue to evolve and get harder to identify. It’s easy to get caught off guard and excited about the possibility of winning something, however here are some tips from F&M Bank:
1. Can you not recall signing up for a drawing or sweepstakes?
2. Is the person on the other end of the call asking you to mail them a down payment via cash or money order, pay for the taxes up front with a debit/credit card, or wire funds?
3. Does it seem too good to be true?
4. Is the person on the other end pushy and aggressive when you question them?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, there is a good chance it could be a scam. Proceed with caution. Tell them that you would like more information prior to sending any funds or giving them personal information. Ask for their website, how you won, the name of the business/company, where they are located, what their call back number is, etc. Chances are, the scammer will become frustrated and disconnect from the call. If you are still unsure, reach out to your financial institution.