Cyber-Fraud Reaches Pandemic Levels

Cyber-Fraud Reaches Pandemic Levels

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Federal Regulators are required to submit Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to the Treasury for a number of different reasons and scenarios, but it all boils down to one: Fraud and Crime Prevention. In August 2018, a new sub-category was added to separate cyber events from other types of fraud, and it wasn't a moment too soon.

Since the pandemic began, cyber-fraud (alleged) has been growing exponentially. In the first seven months of 2020, suspicious cyber events involving deposit accounts at federally-insured U.S. banks and credit unions had already surpassed all of those reported in 2019. And these are not small numbers.

On page 7 we have a state-by-state breakdown for all cyber events reported by the FDIC, Federal Reserve and Comptroller of the Currency (banks) and the National Credit Union Administration (credit unions) that involve either an institution itself, a customer/member or any other suspected criminal cyber activity involving these institutions. In seven months there were almost 28,000; there were 21,000 in all of 2019.

And, the pace appears to be accelerating. By the time 2020 is over, SARs reports of this nature could more than double last year's total. Bankers and regulators are doing their part by filing these reports. But consumers and businesses have to do their part as well.

In the past week we've heard about:

  • A bank in Cypress using Bauer's 5-Star logo on its website without authorization. (Bauer doesn't rate foreign banks.)
  • Fraudulent attempts to open new business accounts using false contact information, and
  • Credit card information getting into the wrong hands.

As we work from home, these events are becoming more common, even to those who take all of the recommended precautions. I.E.:

  • Have software to protect against malware;
  • Use strong Password Authentications;
  • Look for "https:" at the beginning of website addresses;
  • Don't open links on unsolicited emails;
  • Make sure we are on a secure network when banking or shopping; and
  • Are mindful of what we share on social media platforms.

You can do everything right, or so you think, but still find yourself a victim of cyber theft. In the event that you, or someone you know, becomes a victim of cyber fraud, we have compiled the following list. An indication of just how prevalent coronavirus scams have become, many of these agencies have set up specific COVID-19 advisories. has links to state, local and tribal governments. Remember, the faster you report fraud, the better chance you will have to recover any losses that resulted from it.

If the fraud involves telemarketing, spam, identity theft, internet services or online shopping, you will want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If the fraud involves U.S. mail, you contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). In addition to stimulus check scams, the USPIS has reported individuals and business attempting to sell everything from fake surgical masks and wipes to fake COVID-19 cures. They have also reported new "contact tracer" scams. A real contact tracer will NOT ask for your social security number or bank account information.

If you are a victim of an IRS-related COVID-19 scam, you should file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA)

Regardless of how a fraudster communicates with you, if someone says they are from the Treasury and can offer you COVID-help in exchange for anything at all, contact the FBI.

Federal Banking Agencies:

If you're not sure which agency to contact for your institution, start with the CFPB. They should be able to steer you you in the right direction. You can also use this as a guide.

Credit Reporting Agencies:

And of course, Bauer. All banks and credit unions that are rated on BauerFinancial, are FEDERALLY-INSURED. Therefore, you can check both the rating and the deposit insurance in one easy step.

Stay Safe and Keep your Money Safe.

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