When consumer activity increases substantially, with it comes the increase in consumer fraud. How are these fraudsters gaining access to consumer information? They do it by developing new schemes to get your personal identifiable information. The latest scheme targeted our teachers. Recently a fraudster did a little homework and created a fictitious email account in the name of two separate Superintendents at separate New York School Districts. They then used these email addresses to send a common mass-driven phishing email to all the teachers at both districts’ purporting to need their social security number updated for a new direct deposit system they are implementing in the districts’ payroll systems. Many teachers responded directly to the email with their personal identification information (social security number in this instance), and subsequently found their identities had been stolen and their bank accounts had fraudulent activity. Often, when a scheme works so well, it is replicated again and again. Schemes such as this “boss phishing scheme” work so well because employees are less likely to ignore an email from their boss than that of a clearly fraudulent email telling them they have won the lottery. However, some of these older schemes are still used today, such as:
- Hurry, this offer is only good for a limited time
- Money for nothing
- I don’t remember signing up for this contest
- Just send us a processing fee
So be diligent and skeptical of any request of information over email. Remember to take any personal identifiable information directly to your human resources (HR) department in person. Don’t be fooled by these fraudsters; look into all requests for your information before responding to any of those requests.
Brian Hemmerle, CPA, CFE