LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Chamber of Commerce has been the victim of a bank fraud, and it is using the experience to help member businesses learn techniques to avoid similar situations.
As noted in an email communication from the chamber president, Chase Ryant, an incident late last year resulted in a “bank scam perpetuated … by professionals.”
Ryant was out of the office today and unavailable to elaborate. Chamber executive director Katey McNeil said the chamber is not disclosing the exact method used in the scam because it remains under investigation, and the amount of money involved is also not being disclosed.
Ryant’s email said that the bank account breach did not expose any member information and “was isolated to our business bank account.”
“Our board of directors immediately contacted the authorities and began to investigate and assess the situation. We reviewed our policies and procedures to make sure measures are in place to prevent this — or any other similar event — from impacting the organization ever again. We are working closely with law enforcement as it conducts a thorough investigation and are grateful for the work of our diligent Lafayette Police Department.
“We want to stress that the chamber is financially strong, and there will be no impact to our regular business operations or events. In fact, there will be no impact to our members at all,” Ryant wrote.
He said that since such scams have become common, the chamber wanted to share tips for member businesses to use in order to avoid falling into similar scams.
He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies are warning of “spoofing” scams in which criminals can make it appear that a legitimate financial entity or bank is making contact, including use of what appear to be real Caller ID numbers.
The tips offered:
- Don’t rely on Caller ID. Watch out for scammers who may be able to spoof a phone number so your Caller ID reads as if your bank is contacting you.
- Don’t share private account information. Bank employees will never ask for your PIN, password, or one-time access codes. This information should always be private and never shared.
- Ignore requests to send a payment to solve a problem. Know that bank employees will never ask you to send money to anyone — including yourself — to “reverse a transfer,” “receive a refund,” or anything similar. If a correction is needed, the bank has your account information and would never need to ask for it.
- Ignore transaction requests you didn’t initiate. If you receive a one-time access code to authorize a transaction you didn’t initiate, don’t use the code or share it with anyone, even if they claim to be from your bank. One-time access codes should never be shared.
- When in doubt, hang up and contact your bank directly.
- If you receive a suspicious phone call that seems like bank spoofing, trust your gut and hang up immediately. If you receive a suspicious text, don’t respond. Contact your bank directly using a verified, legitimate source such as the phone number on your credit card or what is listed on the company’s official website.
McNeil said the chamber is still in conversation with police and with its insurance company. “We’re just glad we were able to share tips with our members,” she said.