Community

ChoiceOne Bank Warns Consumers of Personal Wire Scams

NEWS ALERT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sparta, MI (June 5, 2017) – As the local community bank, ChoiceOne Bank helps customers reach the American dream of owning a home. But Imagine you are ready to buy your dream home and you falsely wire your funds to a crook! Unfortunately, this is a wire scam that is happening across the country today and the fraudsters are getting personal.

“Attempts at wire fraud using bogus emails that appear to be from a trusted source are becoming more prevalent today,” said Kelly Potes, President and CEO of ChoiceOne Bank. “We have seen wire scams with businesses, unfortunately we are now starting to see these email and wire scams with consumers, particularly with real estate purchases.”

Email compromise is a problem that is being addressed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI has said that about one in four U.S. victims respond by wiring money to fraudsters. In some of those cases, authorities have been able to identify the crimes in time to help victims recover the funds from banks before the criminals pulled them out of the system.

In a real estate transaction, the consumer’s email or their Realtor’s email can get hacked. These personal emails are watched and when the time comes to close on the real estate transaction, the bogus email will go out alerting consumers where to wire their funds. The scammers will have the down payment amount and the title company information correct so the emails appear legitimate.

All consumers need to be aware of fraudulent emails and wire scams today. ChoiceOne Bank urges the public to remain vigilant when making wire and other electronic payments.

Here are eight safety tips consumers can use when making wire and electronic payments:

  1. Be skeptical of any payment communication via email.  Email accounts can be spoofed or hacked.
  2. Be skeptical of any changes in payment instructions and confirm any changes verbally with your recipient using a previously known number – not a new one included in an email.
  3. Always verbally confirm payment details with someone you trust the day of the transfer.
  4. Only make wire transfers to businesses or people you know.
  5. Watch your bank account using mobile or online banking and contact your bank immediately if there are any unusual transactions.
  6. Know where your emails are coming from and if they look out of the ordinary don’t open or respond to them.
  7. Use only secure sites whenever possible and especially for your confidential emails.
  8. Understand this can happen to anyone – including you – and that spam filters don’t address identity deception. Most deceptive emails are from a legitimate email address, or they appear to be legitimate because the domain name and user name are created to appear authentic.

“Email impersonation is happening and knowledge and awareness are key to keeping personal information out of the hands of these scammers,” said Potes. “Keeping our customers financially safe is a primary goal at ChoiceOne Bank. We have put necessary controls in place to help prevent this fraud, and our employees are trained to ask very specific questions when asked to move large sums of money. We urge the public to please stay vigilant.”

 

About ChoiceOne Bank

ChoiceOne Bank is a full service financial institution with offices in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Newaygo Counties. ChoiceOne Bank offers insurance and investment products through its subsidiary, ChoiceOne Insurance Agencies, Inc. ChoiceOne Financial Services, Inc. is the holding company headquartered in Sparta, Michigan and the parent corporation of ChoiceOne Bank. The company is publicly traded and is available on the OTCBB under the symbol “COFS.”

 

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