Maintaining the confidentiality of customer information is one of our fundamental responsibilities, and we want to ensure customers know how to protect themselves from fraud and identity theft.
Remember, Dean Bank will never request confidential information via email solicitation. Please report any such requests by calling 508.528.0088.
May 23, 2020 COVID-related scams are everywhere including phishing and text phishing attempts! Be ready.
To our customers:
Below are some cyber security related items / advisories Dean Bank would like to share with our customers. We are all collectively navigating our way through these tricky times:
Feds Suspect Vast Fraud Network Is Targeting U.S. Unemployment Systems
Investigators see evidence of a sophisticated international attack they said could siphon hundreds of millions of dollars that were intended for the unemployed. The attack has exploited state unemployment systems at a time when they are straining to process a crush of claims.
A group of international fraudsters appears to have mounted an immense, sophisticated attack on U.S. unemployment systems, creating a network that has already siphoned millions of dollars in payments that were intended to avert an economic collapse, according to federal authorities.
The attackers have used detailed information about U.S. citizens, such as social security numbers that may have been obtained from cyber hacks of years past, to file claims on behalf of people who have not been laid off, officials said. The attack has exploited state unemployment systems at a time when they are straining to process a crush of claims from an employment crisis unmatched since the Great Depression.
With many states rushing to pay claims, payments have gone straight to direct-deposit accounts. In Washington State, the agency tasked with managing unemployment claims there began realizing the extent of the problem in recent days when still-employed people called to question why they had received confirmation paperwork in the mail.
“This is a gut punch,” said Suzi LeVine, the commissioner of Washington State’s Employment Security Department.
In a memo obtained by The New York Times, investigators from the U.S. Secret Service said they had information suggesting that the scheme was coming from a well-organized Nigerian fraud ring and could result in “potential losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” Roy Dotson, a special agent who specializes in financial fraud at the Secret Service, said in an interview investigators were still working to pinpoint who was involved and exactly where they were.
”We are actively running down every lead we are getting,” Mr. Dotson said.
Mr. Dotson said it appeared the fraud was being aided by a substantial number of “mules” — people, often in the United States, who were used as intermediaries for money laundering after making connections with fraudsters online. He warned people to be wary of quick-money job offers or other suspicious financial arrangements.
The Secret Service memo said Washington State had emerged as the primary target thus far, but there was also evidence of attacks in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming. The agency warned that every state was vulnerable and could be targeted, noting that the attackers appeared to have extensive records of personally identifiable information, or P.I.I.
“It is assumed the fraud ring behind this possess a substantial P.I.I. database to submit the volume of applications observed thus far,” the memo said.
Rhode Island State Police reported on Monday that it had received “numerous reports of suspected fraud” related to unemployment benefits.
Scott Jensen, the director of Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, said Saturday that it could be hard to distinguish between a legitimate claim and a fraudulent one when impostors provided the proper information. He said the fraudulent cases that were emerging seemed to have their paperwork in order without the hallmarks of other times when claims might have mistakes or other indicators that they were not genuine.
“Whoever it is seems to be fairly sophisticated and good at what they are doing,” Mr. Jensen said. He did not know whether it was a group of international actors but was hopeful investigators would get to the bottom of the fraud. In the meantime, he said, the state is clamping down and taking a closer look at claims surrounding specific banks.
Ms. LeVine said she did not want to put a number on the losses so far in Washington State but believed it was in the millions of dollars. The state is working with law enforcement agencies to try and reclaim some of the funds.
Some workplaces have been hit particularly hard. At Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., more than 400 out of about 2,500 total employees have been targeted with fraudulent claims, Paul Cocke, the university’s spokesman, said.
The state has been inundated with calls from people and businesses asking about unemployment notifications that have been sent to them. They have flooded a hotline and have forced the state to hire more people to answer the phones.
One of those who filed a complaint, Anna Zivarts, a Seattle resident who works at the nonprofit Disability Rights Washington, said she found a series of official envelopes from the government in her mail on May 8. At first, she worried that she might owe taxes. Then, when she opened the mail, she had another worry.
“I called my boss and said, ‘Am I getting laid off and I just don’t know about it?’” Ms. Zivarts said. But her boss assured her that she was still employed.
Ms. Zivarts said she called and emailed to flag the issue for the state but did not hear back. Her employer has also notified the state.
- A recent notification from the United States Secret Service states that "Massive Fraud" attempts against state unemployment insurance programs is underway. Here's an excellent article that provides details: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2020/05/u-s-secret-service-massive-fraud-against-state-unemployment-insurance-programs/
- Dean Bank received an alert related to medical fraud as well. Read it here: FinCENAdvisoryMedicalFraudCovi
- A text comes in on your phone or an email into your inbox. “It’s from the IRS and your economic relief check is ready, pending your acceptance. There’s a form to fill out. All you have to do is click the link.”
please—Don’t. Click. The. Link.
- Scams are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission has received more than 14,000 coronavirus-related complaints, reporting $10 million in total losses in 2020.Visit their web site here for more details: https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice
- On March 20, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning about a rise in fraud schemes and urged “vigilance” during the pandemic. These scams are designed to get you to take immediate action, more and more through texts and calls. Circulating schemes involve:
- Stimulus checks
- Airline refunds
- Fines for breaking social-distancing rules
- “Mandatory” Covid-19 preparedness tests
- Unproven treatments
- Sales of in- demand supplies like masks or thermometers.
- SSA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards.
Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. EVERY TIME.
- Talk about it. If you’re getting these calls or texts, chances are your friends and family are too. Please talk with them about it. People who know about scams are much less likely to fall for them. So by discussing them you are helping protect people you care for and people in your community.
Be well and “stay cyber” safe along the way.
Protect Your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Never send your SSN by unsecured email to anyone.
- Request another number on your drivers’ license instead of your SSN.
- Never carry your SSN in your wallet.
- Do not print your SSN on your checks.
- Do not give your SSN out just because someone asks for it. Understand why they need it and know whom you are doing business with.
Protect Other Personal Information
- Never keep PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) and Passwords in your wallet or any visible location.
- Be aware when using your PIN number that it should be protected.
- Be aware of giving personal information over the phone, by email and over the internet, unless you have initiated the contact.
- Be suspicious of anyone who calls you requesting personal information.
- Shred any personal information or documents you no longer need that could be used to establish an identity in your name:
- Pay stubs
- Pre-approved credit offers
- Shopping receipts
- Utility and phone bills
- Insurance documents
- Obtain your credit report regularly to check for fraud
- Review your bank and credit card statements for accuracy
If your card is lost, stolen, or if you think your PIN is being used by an unauthorized person(s), please call us immediately at 508.528.0088 during business hours or 800.528.2273 after normal business hours.