So far this year, 93 North Dakota residents have reported losses of more than $2 million dollars. So what are banks doing to protect their customers from ever-evolving scams?
Starion Bank Chief Risk Officer Ryan McKay says, “Here at the bank and on a national level, on a regional level. Those fraudsters are always trying to scam especially those are more vulnerable.”
McKay says there has been an increase of reported scams for their bank, and says the most important thing they can do is educate their customers about scams and make sure to communicate any red flags they might see.
“We take pride getting to know our customers, and that way we know what type of transactions are typical for them and if something were to be unusual it raises a red flag for us,” says McKay. “So then we begin to ask questions to that customer just we can make sure they are comfortable with that transaction and make them aware if we have seen a fraud case that is similar.”
While it might seem that the elderly fall victim most of the time, it can happen to anyone. And banks can only do so much for their customers.
“If I were to take and wire funds from my account to a fraudulent person, those funds are gone from my account they are gone, and the customer would be out those funds,” says McKay.
However, if you are using payment methods other than cash, such as a debit or credit card, most banks have consumer protections that can refund your stolen money. It is very hard for police departments to solve these phone scams because of fake numbers and very few ways to get information, but the Bismarck Police Department tells KX the number one red flag to look out for.
Lt. Luke Gardiner with the Bismarck Police Department says, “When they start asking you to start sending money via gift card to a store like Walmart or Best Buy, or Target or something like that, more than likely it is a scam, because what are they doing with that money? You can only use a Best Buy gift card at Best Buy.”
KX did reach out to the Mandan and Minot Police Departments and they haven’t had any recent reports. Minot PD says there is a new twist on the IRS scam they recently found out. A fake IRS agent will call and then someone pretending to be a federal officer will be on the phone saying they will arrest you if you don’t send them money.
The Bismarck Police Department is on high alert, and encourages people to call 701-223-1212 with any questions or information regarding scams. Starion says to never be afraid to reach out to your bank for any help as well.
Scams reported in North Dakota in 2019:
- Social Security Administration or the IRS scams: 7 reported instances
- Government Grant Scam: 7 reported instances and over $60-thousand in losses
- Computer Tech Scam: 16 reported instances and $130-thousand in losses
- Grandparent Scam: 2 elderly North Dakotans lost $140-thousand
- Lottery and Sweepstakes Win Scam: 14 people fell victim totaling over $200-thousand
- Romance Scam: 16 people fell victim adding up to $1.3 million.
While many of the victims were over the age of 65, the second most-scammed age group were 18-24-year-olds. For more information, click here.