Because We Care, Part 1:
Community bankers wear a lot of hats and work with a lot of people and their financial needs. At the Gothenburg State Bank – we exist to enhance the lives of our customers, our team members, and our community, and we do it because we care. Lately, one way that we have been enhancing our customers’ lives is that we have been spending time dealing with customer fraud and customer scams. This is not a fun topic to discuss and quite honestly, I don't feel it gets talked about enough by people like myself. I think that sometimes things get pushed aside and not talked about because they are not fun things to think about, especially if they happen to you. Just like any important topic, you don't know what you don't know. In this President’s letter I will try to provide you with some essential information on this topic.
Fraudulent activity on your bank account costs both the bank and our customers a lot of money, and the sad part is that it can be prevented. A good thing to remember is that fraudulent activity that takes place on your account is not your liability. If you did not provide your bank information, then you don’t have to pay a fraudulent transaction. You are protected by the bank from any potential loss that you were not aware was taking place. This can happen if your credit card or debit card was compromised by a hacker that hacked into a business where your debit card had recently been used. Do you remember the Target stores that were hacked in November of 2013? The Target customer data had been hacked and their customers’ information was stolen and sold. Another way your card can be compromised is if you have your debit card information stolen from someone that you know. Sadly, we have had several customers that have had fraudulent activity on their cards and it has been discovered later that a college roommate or so-called friend had taken (stolen) their information to be used for purchases on-line. When either of these examples happen your name and your credit/debit card numbers have been compromised, and there is now a small window for them to use your information to make charges to your account.
Time is critical, and things need to happen quickly to prevent losing money. When the bank is made aware of this type of fraud we contact all affected customers,cancel the existing card, and reissue a new card with a new card number. (At the Gothenburg State Bank, we print our debit cards on-site and can have replacement cards available immediately.) At the Gothenburg State Bank, we work quickly to cancel any at risk bank accounts as we implement preventative measures immediately.
There are a few things that you can do to assist in keeping your account safe. First, you should report any transaction on your account that looks funny or any transaction that was not initiated by you. If you have the Gothenburg State Bank app there is a safety feature that allows you to instantly go to the app and shut off your debit card. It is fast, it is easy, and it is convenient, as you can turn your card on and off as many times as you want. I had someone tell me the other day that when they travel they shut off their card when they are flying and turn it back on when they land. - just to be safe. Sounds like a good plan to me!
In my next letter on fraud I will talk about how scammers use fear and/or create excitement to get people to share personal and confidential information over the phone. It is unfortunate but in most of these types of scams the elderly is targeted, and their trusting nature makes it easy for information to be shared over the phone. If you don’t want to wait until my next quarterly letter, feel free to give me a call to talk to me directly.