The Pryor Times

November 8, 2010

Fraud is out there; you can bank on it

Julie Shilling

PRYOR — “Fraud is kickin’ us,” said Elaine Dodd at the Pryor Chamber of Commerce luncheon last Wednesday.

“A lot of people think it’s the bank’s fault,” Dodd continued. “It’s not our bankers’ fault. They are the pillars of your community.”

Dodd, who was raised in Blair, provides fraud training for bankers and customers through the Oklahoma Bankers Association.

Dodd spent 22 years in law enforcement working for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. After years of investigating white-collar crimes, she retired as the director.

Dodd now serves the Oklahoma Bankers Association as vice president of fraud training. She joined the OBA in October 2003 and since then has trained thousands of bankers and customers across the state.

Oklahoma is the nation’s leader in fraud training, she said. OBA was the first bankers association in the nation to start its own fraud training and investigation department.

Fraud is the fastest growing crime in America. Various methods of fraud include online auction scams, Nigerian letters, identity theft, phishing, and skimmers.

Phishing emails will warn the user that their account has been compromised. Clicking on the link in the email could infect the computer with a virus. Phishing websites will lure the user to link with a site that captures personal information.

Skimmers are devices placed on gas pumps and at restaurants. A skimmer appears to be an ATM machine and downloads the cardholder’s information when the card is scanned.

“Be looking at your credit card statements and your bank statements all the time,” Dodd said. The bank, she said, has no way of knowing if a debit is unauthorized unless the customer tells them.

“The fraud is happening outside the bank,” Dodd stated. The bad guys, she said, are stealing information at other locations.

“They are breaching our retailers,” she said.

Dodd said only 7 to 12 percent of customers check their bank statements monthly and check off all the debits. She stressed the importance of knowing what is going out and coming into one’s account.

Dodd said caller ID cannot be trusted. The criminals can use a spoof card to bring up a bank name on caller IDs.

“It will look like your bank calling you,” said Dodd.

She said a bank will never call a customer and ask for his or her account number – because the bank already has the account number.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable, said Dodd. Scam artists have been known to call an elderly person in the middle of the night posing as a grandson needing money. The senior will then wire the money to the “grandson.” Sometimes the thief will convince the elderly person to wire the money out of country. Money wired out to another country is gone, said Dodd.

“We have to watch out for our seniors,” she said.

Identity thieves also work to place viruses on computers and steal customer information.

“Please, please be safe on your computers,” Dodd said.

Dodd said a worm can be transferred to a company computer. These viruses can enter the computer in many ways – when the user clicks on a link in an email or clicks on a virus link that comes up in a Google search. The worm virus can crawl from the computer into the company server and then move onto other computers.

Dodd advised business managers to do payroll from a stand-alone computer not connected to the company server. Fraudsters can tap into the company’s ACH batch system and steal payroll. Dodd said companies should also take precautions against inner fraud by practicing dual control.

“Do not let your dual control slide,” she said.

Dodd warned women, especially younger women, about carrying large purses into the mall. She said thieves are known to jerk a purse off a woman’s shoulder as she is entering or leaving the mall entrance.

“Be alert,” she said. Dodd advised that women leave their purses at home and carry checks, credit card and ID in their front pockets.

Dodd gave similar advice for guys to safeguard against pickpockets. In addition, a thick wallet in a man’s hip pocket hurts the sciatic nerve.

Dodd said a new method of counterfeiting bills has been circulating. She said the criminals are washing the ink off $5 bills and reprinting them as $100s. Because the paper feels right, often the bills are not detected.

“Look for the watermark,” Dodd advised. The watermark, found on the right side of a front-facing bill, will match the historical figure in the center. A $100 bill, for example, will have a watermark of Benjamin Franklin on the far right side. The watermark can be viewed by holding the bill up to light.

Dodd said currently there are fraudulent money orders circulating, generally carrying a “value” of $900.

Dodd advised that cashier checks received from other sources cannot be trusted, especially cashier checks of large denomination.

“Don’t be offended when your banker asks you a lot of questions,” said Dodd. “They want to help you.”