Berkshire Bank fraud expert shares financial safety tips

DELMAR – Over the weekend, alert Berkshire Bank employees in North Greenbush stopped scammers from stealing $85,000 from someone else’s account.

There are thousands of variations of scams right now. Berkshire Bank does extensive training to stop fraud.

A lot of times, a fake customer ID is from out of the area.

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“So why, why are they here? They’re here because they’re less likely to find an employee that knows the true customer,” said Tina Pickup, Berkshire Bank’s First Vice President, Security and Fraud Investigations.

A big thing now is online account takeover.

“The first thing I tell everyone is never ever give someone access to your online banking or give them your username or password,” said Pickup. “No legitimate company will ever ask for that.”

The Felony Lane Gang comes around every summer. Experts say don’t leave your purse or wallet in the car, and never carry your Social Security card or anything with that number.

“If your wallet or purse gets stolen, and it has your Social Security number, they have your life,” said Pickup.

She recommends updating your information with the bank, and putting a password on your account.

“Fraudsters are going to know your Social Security number, they’re going to know your date of birth,” said Aida Ramic, Berkshire Bank Regional Manager. “They may not know something that is near and dear to your heart, something from your childhood, let’s say.”

Experts say you don’t want a password like a pet name that scammers will be able to find on social media.

They encourage everyone to monitor their accounts carefully.

“One of the things we’re seeing a huge amount of is check fraud,” said Pickup. “And it’s coming out of the mailboxes. They’re stealing checks from mailboxes and then negotiating the checks, either washing the checks and changing them or just negotiating them.”

Experts say no one legitimate will tell you to lie to the bank, or ask you to buy gift cards.

In addition to training, Berkshire Bank provides a fraud hotline that employees can call at any time if they think that something’s not right.