Identity thieves are constantly looking for new ways to steal and then use the personal and financial information of unsuspecting individuals. Mobile phones have become a new source of this information for these thieves to use in bank scams.
Mobile banking scams appear to be on the rise. These involve text messages or phone calls that tell a consumer that something is wrong with their credit card or bank account, and they need to immediately give their account information to verify that all is well, otherwise the money will be frozen.
Recently, a handful of local banks in West Michigan started reporting that they were receive text messages warning them of a block on their account. Those who responded were asked to reveal personal information, and if they did their accounts were hacked and their money stolen. These particular text scams were connected to Huntington Bank, but they can be connected to just about any bank.
The Los Angeles DA’s office recently warned consumers of a “robo-call” mobile banking scam. Similar to the text message, this scam involved a recorded call to consumers warning them of a potential problem with their accounts. Consumers who returned the call were asked to “verify” their account information. Again, if they did, their identities were stolen.
How to Protect Yourself From Banking Scams
These are just two examples of these bank scams, and if your bank is not yet hit, plan for it to be hit soon. It is simply too easy for scammers to get phone numbers and make these calls, and unsuspecting consumers are always going to call back, worried about their accounts.
First, familiarize yourself with the ways in which your bank sends information. Call and ask if they use text alerts, phone calls, or email to send vital information. If they do, then ask how you can identify the correct information. Because of the increase in these scams, chances are your bank will not use these contact options, unless they follow up with a letter in the actual mail.
If you get an unexpected call, text, or email that appears to be from your bank, do not respond directly to it. Call your bank instead, and give them the details, asking if they did, in fact, send that information. Most likely they did not, but this will put your mind at rest. If your bank did send the information, then you will not be penalized by calling them directly instead of responding to the information on the message or text.
Remember, your personal and financial information is at risk when you are dealing with these scams, so you do not want to take chances. Protect your phone number, email address, and other personal contact information, but even while doing this you could still get these scam texts or calls. Your bank will understand that you are being safe, and they will probably applaud you for your efforts. So the next time you get a questionable text on your phone or email in your inbox, do your research before you respond.
January 1, 2013 | The Bank Review Pig
Thursday, February 9, state and federal officials announced a landmark settlement in the mortgage industry. The settlement, worth more than $25 billion, is with five of the largest national banks and is in regards to flawed and even fraudulent foreclosure policies. According to the settlement, some mortgage servicing companies and lenders have not been properly interacting with struggling homeowners. It is considered a landmark deal because it is the largest settlement between the government and an industry in over 10 years.
The settlement is not quite set in stone yet. First it needs to be filed in a federal court and approved by a judge. Once this happens, banks will deposit money into a government-handled trust account. The funds will be distributed to qualified homeowners as the government outlines.
Currently, all states but Oklahoma have signed the agreement. This is good mortgage industry news for homeowners who are struggling, including those who lost their homes. Under the settlement, around 750,000 borrowers who faced foreclosure since 2008 will receive payouts of around $2,000 from the settlement.
The five banks that are participating in the settlement include Ally Financial, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and J.P. Morgan Chase. The reason these mortgage servicing companies are participating in the settlement is the fact that they were caught with flawed and fraudulent foreclosure documents in late 2010. Because of this, some loans were sold to investors without giving the homeowners sufficient time to make things right, and as a result the banks could not verify the ownership of these mortgages. This sent the industry into turmoil, and thus sparked the cause of the settlement.
More Banks Could Be Added
Currently, the officials in charge of this settlement are in negotiations with nine more mortgage servicing companies. This would make the total number of participating banks 14, which may increase the amount of the payout to qualified former homeowners.
Some industry insiders point to the current difficulties in the housing market, stating that a $25 billion settlement is not sufficient to fix the problem. While it may not be sufficient, it is better than nothing, and now the banks that started the problem are being held accountable.
The monetary settlement is not the only part of this agreement. Protections are being put in place to ensure that future fraud and misleading does not take place. This includes requiring firms to give borrowers one point of contact with their lender, instead of having them talk to many different employees.
Also, some new helps for troubled borrowers are going to be implemented. Lenders will have to rework the way they interact with these borrowers. For example, mortgage servicing companies will not be allowed to start foreclosure while also negotiating mortgage modifications with the borrower.
In general, while the new agreement may not do “enough” in the eyes of some, it is doing something about a growing problem, and it is doing something fairly aggressively. This is good news for struggling homeowners or those who have been evicted from their homes.
November 13, 2012 | The Bank Review Pig