Fraud and Identity Theft: Wire Transfer Swindle

by Washington Federal Team on October 10, 2011

This blog is part three in a four-part series on fraud and identity theft designed to educate our clients on how to avoid falling victim to these swindles. In this piece, we focus on a wire transfer swindle. Learn more about how to protect yourself, and how we’re working to protect you.

Identity theft is easier than we would like to believe. At Washington Federal, we’re committed to keeping you safe and secure. Learn more about how to protect yourself from a wire transfer swindle. We’re educating our staff on protocol and want you to be educated as well.

This scam usually begins with the theft of a client’s identity and account information. A scammer will obtain personal information such as the client’s Social Security number, birth date, passwords, PINs, account numbers and account information such as bank statements and check copies.

Using the confidential personal and account information, the criminal executes one or more wire transfers to accounts he’s fraudulently opened at other banks. He quickly depletes the legitimate account holder’s balance and disappears.

How To Protect Yourself

  • If you receive a call from someone identifying him or herself as a Washington Federal security officer and requesting personal or account information, be warned. No regulatory agency, law enforcement agency or bank will ever initiate a call to a client and ask them to confirm personal, non-public information, even if a security event has occurred.
  • If you have experienced one of these calls and have provided your personal information, you are likely a victim of identity theft. In this case, follow these steps:
    • Call the bank. We will walk them through the steps necessary to protect their accounts and inform law enforcement.
    • Complete the FTC Identity Theft report, providing copies to law enforcement, the FTC and other policing agencies.
    • File credit alerts with the three major credit bureaus.
    • Don’t wait until you notice suspicious activity in your account. Act quickly to ensure that your money and personal security are not compromised.
    • We always follow the bank’s Telephone Identification protocols and never make exceptions, even for known clients.
    • Because pretext callers frequently call a branch other than the one in the client’s community, we are especially cautious of clients calling a branch other than the account branch.
    • We ask additional identification questions (more than the standard three questions). Offer to call the client back, but use a phone number already in the bank’s records.
    • If the caller used a Relay Service, we ask a minimum of five challenge questions.
    • If we believe we been the target of a pretext call, we immediately:
      • Place holds/alerts on the client’s accounts. The con artist could already be calling another branch, hoping that branch will be less vigilant.
      • Try to contact the client using phone numbers in the bank’s records.
      • Call the account branch. They may have alternative methods to make contact with the client.
      • Unless the bank and client have entered into a written agreement to accept wire transfer request via phone or facsimile, we won’t execute a wire request delivered via phone. We make exceptions only under extraordinary circumstances and only with telephone verification with the client at a phone number already recorded in the bank’s records.
      • Complete a Security Incident Report to document the event and follow up actions. Send an electronic copy to the Division Security Officer and the Corporate Security Officer.

How We Will Protect You

  • We always follow the bank’s Telephone Identification protocols and never make exceptions, even for known clients.
  • Because pretext callers frequently call a branch other than the one in the client’s community, we are especially cautious of clients calling a branch other than the account branch.
  • We ask additional identification questions (more than the standard three questions). Offer to call the client back, but use a phone number already in the bank’s records.
  • If the caller used a Relay Service, we ask a minimum of five challenge questions.
  • If we believe we been the target of a pretext call, we immediately:
    • Place holds/alerts on the client’s accounts. The con artist could already be calling another branch, hoping that branch will be less vigilant.
    • Try to contact the client using phone numbers in the bank’s records.
    • Call the account branch. They may have alternative methods to make contact with the client.
  • Unless the bank and client have entered into a written agreement to accept wire transfer request via phone or facsimile, we won’t execute a wire request delivered via phone. We make exceptions only under extraordinary circumstances and only with telephone verification with the client at a phone number already recorded in the bank’s records.

Complete a Security Incident Report to document the event and follow up actions. Send an electronic copy to the Division Security Officer and the Corporate Security Officer.

We are committed to protecting you financially and personally. If you think you’ve been a victim to identity theft or wire transfer swindle, please contact us.

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