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Key Tips to Help Avoid Costly Fraud Attempts

This article courtesy of Nicole Skaro, CMCA, EBP, CIT – a Division of First Citizens Bank, Community Association Banking Division (CAB)

Unfortunately, HOA fraud is a reality – and many of us will experience firsthand such scam attempts. The good news is that by staying vigilant, we can better protect ourselves.

Among those HOA scams, a prevalent one known as phishing involves fraudulent communications designed to trick people into divulging personal or business financial information.

Email Account Compromise (EAC) scams target commercial customers’ personal accounts, especially those who conduct large transactions, while Business Email Compromise (BEC) can be linked to other types of fraud, including lottery, employment and rental scams.

Steps you can take to protect your HOA from phishing, EAC and BEC scams include:

  • Installing anti-virus protection
  • Creating and using secure passwords
  • Protecting access to sensitive data
  • Signing up for fraudulent activity alert notifications
  • Enabling two-factor authentication
  • Using a secured network
  • Paying close attention to website URLs to avoid suspicious sites
  • Avoiding unknown links or requests sent via email or text

Scam emails may also serve as vehicles for malware or computer viruses to gather information, such as passwords and user IDs. Some scammers may send messages that appear to come from company executives.

While transferring funds electronically can streamline and simplify transactions, fraudsters are always on the lookout for ways they can use these tools to their benefit. Some may attempt to order wire transfers by illegitimate emails, phone calls or texts and may refer to specific individuals or business functions such as payroll, human resources and accounting. A common tactic is to convey a sense of urgency, sometimes sending such emails late in the day, just before a holiday or weekend or when the purported sender is out of the office.

Fraudsters may send what appear to be legitimate transfer instructions to complete a wire transfer only to intercept the funds, leaving the business unaware until the intended recipient notifies they have not received the funds.

If you receive a communication that appears suspicious, be sure to check its authenticity before performing any wire transfers. Never act upon changes to payment instructions from an email or other electronic message alone. Instead, check the validity of the instructions from the requester with another trusted party at the company, using a different communication method.

For any wire request, it’s good to remember that if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

For more information on current fraud issues, explore the Federal Trade Commission’s free online security tips at http://onguardonline.gov.

CIT is a division of First Citizens Bank, the largest family-controlled bank in the United States, continuing a unique legacy of strength, stability and long-term thinking that has spanned generations. Parent company, First Citizens BancShares, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCNCA) is a top 20 U.S. financial institution with more than $100 billion in assets. The company’s commercial banking segment brings a wide array of best-in-class lending, leasing and banking services to middle-market companies and small businesses from coast to coast. First Citizens also operates a nationwide direct bank and a network of more than 600 branches in 22 states, many in high-growth markets. Industry specialists bring a depth of expertise that helps businesses and individuals meet their specific goals at every stage of their financial journey. Discover more at cit.com/firstcitizens.