Randy Fredlund, Chief Compliance & Security Officer at Peoples Bank, shares steps to help protect yourself against fraud.

Randy Fredlund, Chief Compliance & Security Officer at Peoples Bank, shares steps to help protect yourself against fraud.

Fraud in the Coronavirus Era

From bogus unemployment claims to fake COVID-19 supplies, fraud is big business

By Randy Fredlund, Peoples Bank

Fraud is big business, and a global network of criminals are actively preying on people’s fears and anxieties about the coronavirus. Some of the most common schemes include unemployment fraud where criminals use stolen personal information to file bogus claims, fraud rings offering fake COVID-19 remedies or supplies, or so-called “romance” scams where perpetrators pretending to be a friend or loved one use online platforms to request financial assistance to help them through hard times.

As we work together to contain the virus, here are a few steps that help prevent identity theft and fraud.

  • Consider placing a security alert or credit freeze on your information. Each credit bureau allows you to place a free fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report. A fraud alert lasts for one year and requires lenders to verify your identity before extending credit. This will result in some extra effort should you need to apply for credit in this timeframe, but it can be worth it. If your identity has been stolen, you can set up an extended fraud alert, which lasts for seven years. A credit freeze stops all access to your credit report unless you remove it.
  • Review your credit report every year. You can request a copy of your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you see something that you don’t recognize, contact the creditor to get more information about what they are reporting to determine if it is legitimate.
  • Place a Consumer Reported Identity Theft Security Alert with ChexSystems. This notifies customers of ChexSystems (banks and credit unions, for example) that you have a security alert each time they submit a consumer account request with your information and lasts for one year. A seven-year alert is also available.
  • Create an account with the Employment Security Department (ESD). Employees can create and verify their account without starting an unemployment claim or taking any other action. How does this protect you? Only one account can be created per social security number. If you’ve registered and someone tries to create a new account fraudulently, they would be rejected during the account creation process.

While these actions can help protect you from fraud, here’s what to do if you find that your personal information has been breached.

  • File an identity theft report. The Federal Trade Commission offers an interactive reporting tool that provides guidance on how to report and what to do next. There are printable checklists, sample letters, terms, definitions, and much more. Even if you are not a victim, this is a great resource to build your understanding of identity theft and how to respond.
  • Report unemployment fraud to the ESD. If you receive a notification from ESD regarding an unemployment claim you didn’t file, you will need to notify them the claim is fraudulent. You should also inform your company’s HR department if they haven’t contacted you already.
  • Notify your banks. Make sure to notify all your financial institutions, including those managing your retirement and investment accounts, and take necessary precautions to protect your accounts.

When it comes to protecting your personal information and finances, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you’re asked for money or information, and the request doesn’t make sense or feels like something’s off, it probably is! Peoples Bank has a red flag reporting process designed to protect customers’ accounts, and we maintain a Fraud Investigations Department to stay ahead of rapidly evolving fraud and scam methods. We would be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Randy Fredlund is the Chief Compliance & Security Officer at Peoples Bank. Peoples Bank is a locally owned and operated, independent full-service community bank with 23 branches throughout Washington. Local bankers at our five Snohomish County office locations are eager to serve you. Please visit www.peoplesbank-wa.com/locations to find a branch near you.

Talk to us

More in Marketplace

Sibella the Facility Comfort Dog is the newest member of the Dawson Place team. If you suspect a child in your life is experiencing abuse, Dawson Place can help.
In a stressful year, it’s everyone’s job to help keep children safe

If you or someone you know is experiencing child abuse, help is here

Best CBD gummies
Best CBD Gummies for Pain & Anxiety: Buyer’s Guide (2020)

CBD-infused gummies are one of the most popular means of using CBD… Continue reading

CBD for Pain
Best CBD Oil for Pain: Buyers Guide (2020)

Sponsored Over the past decade, there’s been a ton of clinical trials… Continue reading

The Community Health Centers of Snohomish County walk-in clinic at Edmonds Clinic is now open!
Now open! Walk-in care moves to Edmonds

Win-win: More primary care space at Lynnwood Clinic, more walk-in space at Edmonds Clinic

Mallory Martindale's apprenticeship with the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee is almost complete. She's been working in manufacturing since she graduated high school, and the apprenticeship gives her a strong foundation for a long career.
Advanced manufacturing apprenticeships launch out-of-this-world opportunities

Help your career take off with paid on-the-job training and college-level instruction!

Opioid Outreach Specialist Amy Hill raises awareness about the overdose crisis, including training Snohomish County citizens in Narcan and helping those who've experienced an overdose find treatment.
Keep hope! Equip yourself to support friends and strangers

In the opioid crisis, solutions are a phone call away, right here in Snohomish County

Dr. Mithun Neral is an orthopedic doctor at Western Washington Medical Group. He specializes in sports medicine and shoulder conditions.
Game on! Helping athletes of all ages return to play

New technology brings new options in sports medicine, and this doctor’s on the cutting edge

Planting now, for the future
Planting now, for the future

Active forest management does much more than produce timber and toilet paper.

Zsofia Pasztor, founder of Woodinville-based non-profit Farmer Frog, is a certified horticulturist, arborist and landscape designer who helps build community and family gardens, starting from a foundation of Cedar Grove soil and compost.
Family gardening can be fun and fruitful!

Cedar Grove soils can help you get the most out of your home planting season

Find beauty right in your garden this spring!
Find beauty right in your garden this spring!

With contactless delivery options, Cedar Grove helps you get in your garden this spring

Judd & Black is celebrating 80 years in northwest Washington, and four generations of family providing appliance sales and service.
An electric family: 80 years in Washington appliances

They brought the first refrigerator to Snohomish county, continue to stay on tech’s cutting edge

logo
Brand new walk-in clinic for Snohomish County, Nov. 2

Convenience, care and improved services to meet a growing need