New Financial Scam Involving the Child Tax Credit
- Contact people through email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
- Leave pre-recorded or threatening messages warning about an arrest or lawsuit.
- Call taxpayers to provide or verify financial information in order to receive the Child Tax Credit.
- Ask for payment in the form of gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency.
ATTENTION LOAN CLIENTS!
Many F&M Bank loan clients have received the letter below. It is a SCAM designed to confuse our clients with a similar-sounding company name. If you ever have questions about whether a letter or phone call is really from us, please contact F&M Bank directly. We’re always happy to help protect our clients!
Concerned about the Equifax breach? Check out our FAQ to learn more about the breach and how to protect yourself.
Debit Card Safety
Many of our clients use an F&M Bank Debit Card on a daily basis. And why not? It’s quick, easy and secure. To enhance that security even more:
- Sign up for alerts. F&M Bank has created a variety of email or text alerts that can signal unusual behavior (going over a financial limit, for example) on the account that’s linked to your debit card.
- Take time to sign. It’s cheaper for merchants if you enter your PIN, which is why card terminals bring up the PIN page as a default. But selecting “credit” and then signing for a debit purchase not only protects you from data thieves, but activates Mastercard’s zero-liability promise.
- Keep your PIN private. If you do use a PIN, take care that you don’t inadvertently hand it over to strangers. Use your body to block others’ view as you enter a PIN, and decline a clerk’s offer to enter the PIN for you. Also, don’t keep a written version of your PIN with your card; memorize the number instead.
- Look over your statement. It seems like a no-brainer, but lots of people skip this crucial step. Reviewing your monthly account statements only takes a few minutes, and it’s the best way to ensure that you are the only one using your debit card.
Using the Internet to shop, do business and bank is a way of life for most of us. To protect yourself in cyberspace:
- Rethink your passwords. Don’t use the same passwords for everything. If data thieves steal your password, they can access any other sites and accounts that use the same password. Yikes! Make unique passwords for all of your accounts, and keep them in a safe place.
- Be suspicious. If you get an email requesting personal information—even if it seems like a legitimate company—don’t give it out. Similarly, don’t download any attachments you haven’t specifically asked for.
- Shop smart. When making online purchases, only key in credit card information if it’s a secure site. Look for the small padlock symbol, which means the site encrypts data. Another good way to know it’s a safe site? The address starts with https://.
- Make your computer Fort Knox. Install safeguards against potential attacks and malware (software that’s designed to gain access to or damage your computer). If you’re not comfortable loading protective software and updates, enlist the help of a pro.
- Leave them guessing. It’s tempting to overshare on social media, but the bad guys have figured out that these sites are a goldmine. Even a post like, “Had a blast at the Smith family reunion!”, can clue people into details like your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth—commonly used security questions. Be careful with your posts, lock down your page’s security and don’t accept “friend” requests from people you don’t know.
At F&M Bank, our clients’ online security is a top priority. We invite you to look over the resources below to help you protect yourself, your family and your business from becoming a victim of a cybercrime.
Sadly, the elderly are especially vulnerable to financial abuse from caregivers, friends and even family members. Common forms of abuse include forging or coercing signatures, stealing money or financial information, overcharging them (or making up services) and using scams to swindle money.
Take a closer look if you see one or more of these warning signs:
- Financial management changes. If your loved one switches attorneys, financial planners or banks—or if their financial documents no longer come to their home—pay attention. Adding a new person to accounts may also be trouble.
- Missing money. Transferring money to someone else (whether you know them or not), large cash withdrawals and signing property and assets over to others are all potential problems.
- A new will. Changing who benefits from his or her estate could be perfectly harmless—or a sign of abuse.
The best protection for your loved one is to be an active part of their life. With their permission:
- Vet helpers. Bringing in outside help is often necessary as people age, but it’s important to know who has access to sensitive information. Thorough reference and background checks are a good start.
- Tag along. Does mom or dad have an appointment with a financial professional? Ask to come along so you can stay in the loop, as well as prevent them from buying products or services they don’t need.
- Remove temptation. Cataloging and then locking up valuables keeps them safe from hired helpers, repair people or family/friends with sticky fingers. Also, consider a secured mailbox so incoming or outgoing mail—with their valuable data inside—can’t be swiped.
Nothing is sacred when it comes to scammers’ tricks. They will take advantage of your generosity, tug on your heartstrings, and even use your loved ones as bait. The bad news is that scams are extremely common. But the good news is that you can help avoid them by following a few simple tips.