Fraud Chronicles Newsroom Security Articles & Alerts

Spotlight: Back to School

Back-to-School season can be stressful for kids and parents alike— especially when scammers are using school shopping scams to get their attention. With online scamming at an all-time high it’s hard to tell if the sites, coupons and sales you see can be trusted. But there are ways to get school shopping done while avoiding scams that will cost you your valuable time and money.

Here are some key things to remember during back-to-school season:

  • Only buy from reputable brands you recognize. Scammers often send tempting phishing emails hoping victims will click the link, possibly compromising their computer.
  • Don’t click links on coupons and discounts you weren’t expecting. Fraudsters love to use clickbait ads, popups and messages to lure in victims.
  • Lookout for fake Captcha and scam links. Some websites have ads that mimic parts of the website to lead you to less reputable pages.
  • Check refund and return policies. Sellers often have different (and stricter) refund and return policies for sale items and dishonest sellers will use tricky disclosures and fine print to deny refund requests.
  • Save receipts and confirmation emails. Keeping a paper trail will help if you file a dispute.

Read more about back-to-school shopping scams from the Federal Trade Commission.

Trending: Bank Impersonation Scam

Recently there has been an increase in fraudsters pretending to be their victim’s bank texting or calling to verify fake charges. These fraudsters lie to get victims to provide personal or bank information, access to online banking, or to read off a code sent to their phone, sometimes alarming their victim by saying they must take immediate action to protect their accounts from being emptied.

Here are some tips to protect yourself against bank impersonation scams:

  • Never click on links on texts or emails in a text or email notification. Instead, go to the bank’s website (even if you’ve signed up for text alerts). Use the URL listed on your statements or that you’ve previously bookmarked and check for any alerts on your account.
  • If you get a call from anyone claiming to be from your bank, hang up. Then contact your bank in a way you know to be legitimate, either online or by calling the phone number on your statement or debit card.
  • Never provide account data or personal info. If you receive a call, email or text message asking for personal information, it is a scam.
  • Do not rely on caller ID. Scammers can use technological tricks to display the actual bank name and phone number.
    Be wary of anything insisting you take immediate action. Scammers try to put you under pressure to act quickly which makes it more difficult to think clearly.
  • When in doubt, seek assistance. If you’re unsure what to do in response to what appears to be an alert from your bank, stop and ask a trusted person — a friend, family member or coworker — to help you.

Read more about bank impersonation text scams from AARP.

Trending: Check theft and mail fraud

Law enforcement nationwide are contending with a growing issue of checks being stolen from mailboxes and post office boxes. Criminals have taken to stealing keys from post office workers in order to pull many checks at once. The criminals then “wash” these checks to add new recipients, making it payable for whatever amount they wish.

Here are some tips to keeping your mail secure:

  • Mail checks from inside the post office. If you have to mail a check, mailing it inside a post office is a safer choice than a mailbox or post office box.
  • Monitor your check images. This can be done using online banking or by reviewing your statement. This lets you report suspicious activity as soon as possible.
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious activity. The USPS suggests if you see something that looks suspicious (such as someone following your carrier), call 911 immediately.
  • Sign up for Informed Delivery. With this free service, the USPS will email you images of everything that will be delivered to your home that day, so you’ll know what to expect (and what’s missing when the carrier drops off your mail).
  • Try not to leave incoming or outgoing mail sitting in your mailbox for an extended time, particularly overnight. If you choose to leave outgoing mail in your mailbox, don’t put up the flag.
  • Use the USPS Hold Mail service. If you’ll be away from home, you can sign up online to have the USPS hold your mail while you are out.

If you think your mail has been stolen:

  • Report suspected mail theft to USPIS at uspis.gov/report or by calling 877-876-2455.
  • Notify your bank
  • Report theft to your local law enforcement

Read more about check theft and mail fraud from AARP.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, contact our Customer Care Center immediately at (617) 969-4300 and report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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FRAUD ALERT: Our customers recently have received suspicious calls and texts that appear to be from a legitimate Village Bank phone number of 617.969.4300. These callers question fraudulent charges and ask for personal/account information. If you receive a call like this,
please hang up immediately and contact us directly. The Village Bank will NEVER contact you asking for personal information. Thank you.
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