Fraud Is Out There: Helpful Tips to Guard Against Today’s HOA Scams

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Fraud is an unfortunate reality. The good news is that by staying vigilant, we can protect our communities more effectively.

One common HOA scam is phishing, which involves fraudulent communications designed to trick people into divulging personal or business financial information.

Other scams include email account compromise, which targets the personal accounts of commercial customers who conduct large transactions, and business email compromise, which is linked to additional types of fraud including lottery, employment, and rental scams.

To help protect your community association from phishing and email scams, consider these steps:

  • Install antivirus protection.
  • Create and use secure passwords.
  • Protect access to sensitive data.
  • Sign up for fraudulent activity alert notifications.
  • Enable two-factor authentication.
  • Use a secured network.
  • Pay close attention to website URLs to avoid suspicious sites.
  • Avoid unknown links or requests sent via email or text.

Scam emails can do damage in many ways. Some serve as vehicles for malware or computer viruses, which can steal passwords, user IDs, and similar information; others may send messages that appear to come from company executives.

Electronic funds transfer, a fast and simple method for moving money, also is a fertile field for fraudsters. Scammers may attempt to order wire transfers through illegitimate emails, phone calls, or texts. These emails often refer to specific individuals or business functions such as payroll, human resources, or accounting. Ramping up a sense of urgency is a common tactic with fraudsters often sending such requests late in the day, just before a holiday or weekend, or when the purported sender is out of the office. 

Sophisticated fraudsters also may send what appear to be legitimate wire transfer instructions to intercept those funds. The scammed business remains unaware of the fraud until the intended recipient asks where the money is.

Play it smart. If you receive a communication that appears suspicious, do not perform a wire transfer before checking its authenticity. Never act on changes to payment instructions from an email or other electronic message without validating the requester’s authenticity with a trusted party at the company using a different communication method.

If a wire request doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Sponsor First Citizens Bank

First Citizens Bank’s Community Association Banking business is a national leader in providing individualized service, customized technology, smart savings solutions and operational efficiency for homeowner associations (HOA) and community association management companies nationwide. The business’ banking solutions include operating and reserve accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, online banking, payments services and HOA loans. First Citizens Bank helps personal, business, commercial and wealth clients build financial strength that lasts. Founded in 1898 and headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., we provide a unique legacy of strength, stability and long-term thinking that has spanned generations. For more information on Community Association Banking, see www.firstcitizens.com/CAB. First Citizens Bank, Member FDIC