COVID-19 Scams

Avoid Coronavirus Scams

Communities are doing a lot to support one-another in these unprecedented times, but unfortunately scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Some scams purport to be providing relief or cures. Some scammers are preying on the generosity of people and asking you to donate to victims or relief funds.

Please don’t fall victim to these frauds and crimes. Independently verify the identity of any company, charity, or individual that contacts you regarding COVID-19.

If you see these frauds being attempted or if you are victimized by these frauds, please report them to:

Some examples of COVID-19 scams include:

Grants or Stimulus Payments

If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, tax, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams.

Phishing Scams

Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.

  • Check the websites and email addresses offering information, products, or services related to COVID-19. Be aware that scammers often employ addresses that differ only slightly from those belonging to the entities they are impersonating. For example, they might use “cdc.com” or “cdc.org” instead of “cdc.gov.”
  • Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources. Doing so could download a virus onto your computer or device.
  • Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date.

App Scams

Scammers are creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information. Watch out for any links texted to your Android phone promising an app to track coronavirus.

Treatment Scams

Scammers are offering to sell fake cures, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19. Check reputable sources like the CDC and WHO for factual information about treatments and prevention measures.

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment for COVID-19 or requesting your personal information for medical purposes. Legitimate health authorities will not contact the general public this way.
  • Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment. Remember, if there is a medical breakthrough, you won’t hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or unsolicited sales pitch.
  • Check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies. Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items.

In-Demand Product Scams

Online sellers claim they have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies. You place an order, but you never get your shipment. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name — including scammers.

  • Check out the seller by searching online for the person or company’s name, phone number and email address, plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” If everything checks out, pay by credit card and keep a record of your transaction.
  • If you’re concerned about the pricing of products in your area, contact your state consumer protection officials. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox can be reached at (406) 444-2026. For a complete list of state Attorneys General, visit naag.org.

Provider Scams

Scammers are contacting people by phone and email demanding payment for treatment of a friend or relative that they claim was hospitalized for Coronavirus.

Charity Scams

Scammers are soliciting donations for false “funds” for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19.

  • Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations in connection with COVID-19 before giving. Remember, an organization may not be legitimate even if it uses words like “CDC” or “government” in its name or has reputable looking seals or logos on its materials. For online resources on donating wisely, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
  • Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Don’t send money through any of these channels.

Investment Scams

Scammers are offering online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.

Source: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa/covid-19-fraud-page

Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/03/ftc-coronavirus-scams-part-2

COVID-19 Response

Our team is available to serve you as always. For the safety of Freedom Bank’s customers and staff, our lobby is temporarily closed effective Thursday, March 19th at 5:00 PM. Our Drive Up remains open M-F 8-6 and Saturdays 9-1. Our ATM is available 24/7.

If access to our lobby is critical, please call 406-892-1776 to schedule an appointment. Thank you for your understanding.

***NEW*** If you are facing imminent financial hardship, take a look at our new initiative: “Banking Our Community: Neighbors Helping Neighbors”. We are providing 0% interest loans up to $1,000 for those disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and evaluate additional measures to support our customers and community as needs arise.

Updates will be posted here and on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Thank you for being a valued customer.


Specific Contacts

Commercial Loans

Don Bennett, President – 406-892-6622 After Hours 406-270-1143

Max – 406-892-6631

Cameron – 406-892-6626

Real Estate Loans

Trevor – 406-892-6629

New Accounts

Alona – 406-892-6630

Wire Transfers or Disputes

Carie – 406-892-6625

Online and Mobile Banking

Lynette – 406-892-6632

Blayne – 406-892-6634

For all other concerns and questions, please call 406-892-1776.


Drive Up Banking

Monday-Friday 8:00AM – 6:00PM

Saturday 9:00AM – 1:00PM


Phone and Email

406-892-1776

info@FreedomBankMT.com

We encourage you to be vigilant and wary of attempted scams. We will never ask you to share your online banking credentials.


Mobile Banking

  • 24/7 Account Access: Check transaction history, transfer money between accounts, and pay bills for established billers.
  • Deposit Checks Remotely: Contact us if you need your remote check deposit limit increased.

Download the Freedom Bank MT Mobile App. Use your phone’s camera to scan a QR code below.

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about the mobile application here.


Computer Displaying Online Banking WebsiteOnline Banking

  • 24/7 Account Access: Check transaction history, transfer money between accounts, pay bills, and view statements.
  • Business ACH Capabilities: Businesses can apply for Business Online to pay bills and payroll with ACH or collect money from customers via direct debit.

Five Holiday Scams to Avoid

‘Tis the season… for holiday scams! As the end of the year approaches, criminals are working overtime to take advantage of busy employees.

Here are five threats to watch out for this holiday season:

Infected e-Cards and Memos

Holiday cards can spread cheer—and also malware. Criminals love to send cute Christmas and New Year’s e-cards which entice you to click a link— but once you do, your computer is infected with malware that can steal your online banking credentials, credit card numbers and more.

This year, the party started early, when a rash of Emotet-laced Halloween invitations was reported back in October. Recipients were invited to a “Come and say hello to your neighbors and enjoy some food and drink… Details in the attachment.” If you click on the attachment, a Word document opens, prompting the user to “Enable Content.” Once clicked, the malware is loaded onto the victim’s computer.

Days before Thanksgiving, researchers reported a surge of “Thanksgiving lures,” such as a “holiday memo” that announced office closure dates. Busy staff, making their holiday plans, were undoubtedly tempted to click without thinking, and fell victim to these holiday scams.

To protect your friends, family and colleagues, make sure everyone is familiar with the common “Enable Content” trick shown in the image below, and knows NOT to click the button.

Fake Retail Deals

Do those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals sound too good to be true? Cybercriminals love to lure consumers into clicking on fake offers. Often, these phishing email perfectly mirror real email blasts sent by Amazon or other big names. This year, fake e-commerce sites are trendy holiday scams, with researchers reporting a 233% increase compared with last November.

To be safe, don’t click the link— instead, type the store’s address directly into the address bar, and then look for holiday offers on their web site. Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

Gift Card Scams

Gift cards are popular, both at home and in the office, as rewards for employees and convenient thank-you gifts for vendors and clients. This makes them a popular target for holiday scams. Criminals take advantage of that by tricking people into purchasing gift cards and giving them the codes to redeem them. According to the Wall Street Journal, consumers reportedly lost over $74 million in scams involving gift cards or reloadable cards in January-September of this year (an increase of $53 million compared with 2015).

In a typical scam, a criminal impersonates someone you know such as a close relative, and send emails or text messages asking you to purchase gift cards. The cards are supposedly a “reward” or a surprise — meaning that often, the victim is asked to keep the purchase secret. The victim sends the card details to the scammer, who steals them and cashes out.

To protect you and your family, make sure everyone is aware of common gift card scams, and knows to verify requests via phone before responding.

Point-of-Sale and ATM Skimmers

Look carefully at that ATM or point-of-sale terminal before you insert your credit or debit card. Criminals can place “skimmers” to steal your credit or debit card number as you swipe. They can also overlay a keypad to capture any PIN numbers you enter.

Check card readers and PIN pads carefully for unusual signs such as cracks, loose parts or scratches. If you notice anything suspicious, don’t use that machine. Consider using ApplePay, GooglePay, SamsungPay or similar modern payment technologies for retail purchases, since they offer extra security measures that never reveal your card number to the merchant.

E-Skimming

Modern criminals break into ecommerce sites in order to inject snippets of code into the checkout page and steal customer card numbers. These e-skimming attacks (often referred to as “Magecart” attacks) have reached epidemic proportions, affecting retail giants such as Macy’s and Newegg, and prompting warnings from the FBI, US-CERT and others. Criminals have honed their tactics, often targeting popular third-party ecommerce software and plugins, in order to infect thousands of websites at once.

Merchants can defend against this by carefully vetting third-party code that is included in their site. Make sure your software is up-to-date, and stay apprised of any known vulnerabilities in your ecommerce platform. Have your web site tested regularly so that you are alerted to issues early on, before hackers break into your system.

For consumers, e-skimming attacks are a tricky problem, because there is no easy way to detect the malware in web sites that you visit. Carefully consider whether the online shop you use is reputable, and consider using virtual credit card numbers to reduce your risk if a site is infected. If you suspect an ecommerce site is infected, or notice fraud related to an ecommerce sale, report any incidents to www.ic3.gov.

Cybercriminals work overtime during the holidays! Share this list to keep your friends and colleagues aware of holiday scams, so everyone stays safe this season.

Night of Lights Parade & Brunch with Santa

2019
NIGHT OF LIGHTS

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6th

CRAFT FAIR STARTS 4:00 PM

LOCATED IN THE NORTH VALLEY SENIOR CITIZENS CENTER & TEAKETTLE ROOM

PARADE STARTS 6:30 PM

AWARDS FOR FLOATS; FLOAT ENTRY $10 OR FOOD ITEM FOR FOOD BANK

HEAT UP AT THE COOP AFTER THE PARADE
VISIT WITH SANTA AND WARM UP WITH A BON FIRE, HOT COCOA, CHILI &
A LIVE HOLIDAY CONCERT WITH HOLIDAY DESSERTS, CFHS CHORAL SONIFERS AND COLUMBIANS!

SATURDAY, DEC. 7TH 9:30 AM
BRUNCH WITH SANTA: TIMBERCREEK VILLAGE
MEADOWLAKE DR.

Stay Safe Online

Freedom Bank Wants You To Be Safe Online This Holiday Season

Here at Freedom Bank we want you to be safe this holiday season. We have teamed up with National Cybersecurity to make you more aware of protecting yourself online. Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT. – has been designed to not only encourage personal accountability and proactive behavior in digital privacy, but also promote security best practices, consumer device privacy and e-commerce security.

The 16th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is in full swing! Held every October, NCSAM has been a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about not only the importance of cybersecurity, but also ensure that everyone has access to the appropriate resources they need to be safer and more secure online.

Below are some of the highlighted calls to action and their key messages:

Own IT.

We live in a world in which we are constantly connected, so cybersecurity cannot be limited to the home or office. When you’re traveling, it is always important to practice safe online behavior and take proactive steps to secure your smart devices. With every social media account you sign up for, every picture you post, and status you update, you are sharing information about yourself with the world.

  • Double your login protection: Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you.
  • Update your privacy settings: Set the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. Keep tabs on your apps and disable geotagging (which allows anyone to see where you are).
  • Connect only with people you trust: While some social networks might seem safer, always keep your connections to people you know and trust.

Secure IT.

Have you noticed how often security breaches, stolen data, and even identity theft, are front-page headlines nowadays? Cybercriminals attempt to lure users to click on a link or open an attachment that may infect their computers. These emails might also request personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers. When users respond with the information or click on a link, these attackers now possess access to their personal accounts.

  • Avoid using common words in your password: Substitute letters with numbers and punctuation marks or symbols. For example, @ can replace the letter “A”/
  • Be up to date: Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it!
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications which implore you to act fast. Many phishing emails create urgency, instilling fear that your account or information is in jeopardy.

Protect IT.

Today’s technology allows us to connect around the world through banking, shopping, streaming, and more. This added convenience undoubtedly comes with an increased risk of identity theft and scams. More and more home devices (such as thermostats, door locks, etc.) are now connected. While this may save us time and money, it poses new security risks.

  • Secure your Wi-Fi network: Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices, and you can better secure your Wi-Fi network and devices by changing the factory-set default password and username for each one.
  • Know what to look for:
    • Identity Theft – bills for products or services you did not purchase, suspicious charges on your credit cards, or any changes to your accounts that you did not authorize.
    • Imposter Scams – an imposter may contact you saying they are from a trusted organization informing you that your SSN has been suspended, or your account has been locked, while asking for your sensitive information or payment to fix the issue.
    • Debt Collection Scams – scammers may attempt to collect on a fraudulent debt. Debt collector scammers typically request payment by wire transfers, credit cards, or gift cards.

Visit these sites to learn more:

https://niccs.us-cert.gov/national-cybersecurity-awareness-month-2019

https://staysafeonline.org/ncsam/about-ncsam/

The information provided in the MS-ISAC Monthly Security Tips Newsletter is intended to increase the security awareness of an organization’s end users and to help them behave in a more secure manner within their work environment. While some of the tips may relate to maintaining a home computer, the increased awareness is intended to help improve the organization’s overall cyber security posture. This is especially critical if employees access their work network from their home computer. Organizations have permission and are encouraged to brand and redistribute this newsletter in whole for educational, non-commercial purposes.
Disclaimer: These links are provided because they have information that may be useful. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in the links and neither endorses nor intends to promote the advertising of the resources listed herein. The opinions and statements contained in such resources are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of CIS.

Freedom Bank Receives “Outstanding” Rating for Community Reinvestment Act Performance

Quote from Don Bennett: We don't view community investment as a regulatory requirement. For us, it is just how we do business.Freedom Bank received the highest possible rating for our performance in the Community Reinvestment Act during the most recent examination by the FDIC. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 requires federally insured depository institutions to support the borrowing needs of the communities where they do business, including low- and moderate-income areas.

The “Outstanding” rating is based on Freedom Bank’s performance under the lending, investment, and service tests. These tests examine mortgage, small business, and community development lending, community development investments, and community development services in the communities a bank serves.

Freedom Bank was recognized in these key areas:

  • 90.9% of home mortgage loans and small business loans, by number, were made to borrowers located in Flathead County.
  • 82.8% of small business loans were made to businesses with less than $1 million in Gross Annual Revenues, demonstrating Freedom Bank’s commitment to meeting the small business credit needs of Flathead County.
  • Good distribution of lending to customers of different income levels and business customers of different sizes.

“We don’t view community investment as a regulatory requirement,” says Freedom Bank President Don Bennett. “For us, it is just how we do business. Columbia Falls believed in us when we opened our doors as a single-wide trailer in 2005 and we work hard every day to return the favor.”

Just like many of our customers, Freedom Bank is a small business. We consider our small size and local character to be our core strengths. Bennett adds, “Freedom Bank remains committed to the continued vitality and successes of our customers, no matter where they are at in their financial journey.”

If you want the money you deposit at a bank to stay local, you can count on Freedom Bank. Give us a call or stop in today to learn more about what we offer. We want to be your bank!

Montana’s Notary of the Year

Jerry Burley, assistant vice president and loan officer at Freedom Bank on Friday was awarded Notary of the Year by Montana Sec. of State Linda McCulloch.

Burley has been a notary since the early ‘90s, getting his start in banking fresh out of high school.

He grew up in Broadus and, following his love of accounting, took a job bookkeeping at a bank in Ashlan.

The job required him to be a notary, so he became one.

The process as he recalled it was not difficult.

“Back in the day, it was just fill out a form, and the bank paid for the bonding, and I took a training and they sent the certificate,” he said.

Being a notary is fairly simple, he said. Any time a legal document needs notarized, he confirms the ID of the person signing, keeps a log, and adds a stamp to the document confirming he notarized it.

“Jerry Burley epitomizes what it means to be Montana Notary of the Year,” said McCulloch. “He was chosen from a strong field of nominees for demonstrating exceptional services and high standards of practice.”

Montana Notary of the year nominees were evaluated on their longevity, variety of documents notarized, use of notary journal, community service, and exceptional notary service.

McCulloch started the Montana Notary of the Year award in 2009 in an effort recognize the invaluable work done by notaries in Montana.

“Notaries are the first line of defense against many types of fraud as they are responsible for determining the identity of the person who signs a document, swears an oath, or performs any of the other acts that require a notary public. I’m eager to present this award to such a deserving notary public,” McCulloch said.

Burley is involved in the community, which factored in to being named Notary of the Year.

He was a member of the Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, and has served as treasurer of the Gateway to Glacier trail for the past three.

Because he was named Montana Notary of the year, Burley is automatically nominated for the National Notary of the Year award given annually by the National Notary Association.

Burley’s wife, Joanne, their daughter Kristen and granddaughter Avery were all present at the award ceremony at Freedom Bank on Friday.

Although he now works as a lender at Freedom Bank rather than the accounting and bookkeeping that first got him interested, he says that his favorite aspect of being a notary has remained the same.

“I think mainly it’s the people that come through, the conversations I have with them while they sign. It’s just getting to know people,” he saidJERRY SEC DON

Debit Card Shutdown Notice

Freedom Bank received notification that a large credit card processing center that services several businesses in the Flathead Valley was compromised sometime in November 2013. As a result, persons that used their debit or credit cards at these businesses may be exposed to fraudulent activity. In cooperation with law enforcement and other financial institutions in the Flathead Valley, Freedom Bank immediately initiated a debit card shutdown for those cards that may have been exposed to the security breach. This had to be done immediately in order to protect everyone that was exposed.

Please understand that this breach had nothing to do with the bank’s security systems and has impacted every bank in the Flathead Valley and thousands of individuals. Our staff has been working diligently trying to notify our customers, but due to the high volume of cards shut down, we did not have enough staff, or time, to call everyone before the cards were shut down. Shutting the cards down protected both our customers and Freedom Bank. We apologize for any inconvenience. New cards have been ordered and customers should be receiving them within 7-10 business days. Thank you for your understanding.

Please call us at (406) 892-1776 if you have any questions.

Glacier National Park Quarters – Limited Supply Left

The Glacier National Park Quarter was released in 2011 as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.  The quarter depicts Glacier’s prominent glacially carved valleys, Mount Reynolds peak, the iconic mountain goat and sub-alpine conifers.

Freedom Bank still has a limited supply of collectors sets of the Glacier National Park quarter for purchase.  Add to your collection or mark a gift off of your shopping list for that special coin collector in the family by contacting Freedom Bank.

Expiration of Temporary FDIC Insurance Coverage

NOTICE OF EXPIRATION OF THE TEMPORARY FULL FDIC INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR NON-INTEREST BEARING TRANSACTION ACCOUNTS

By operation of federal law, beginning January 1, 2013, funds deposited in a non-interest bearing transaction account (including an Interest on Lawyer Trust Account) no longer will receive unlimited deposit insurance coverage by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Beginning January 1, 2013, all of a depositor’s accounts at an insured depository institution, including all non-interest bearing transaction accounts, will be insured by the FDIC up to the standard maximum deposit insurance amount($250,000), for each deposit insurance ownership category. For more information about FDIC insurance coverage of non-interest bearing transaction accounts, visit http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/unlimited/expiration.html.

Wondering how much of your money is covered by the FDIC?

You might find yourself wondering just how much of your money is covered by the FDIC since the expiration of the temporary FDIC insurance coverage. The FDIC recently rolled out their Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE), you can find this useful tool at www.fdic.gov/edie/index.html. If you discover that your assets are not fully covered or you would like to more effeciently organize your assets please give Freedom Bank a call at (406)892-1776 and one of our personal bankers will be happy to assist you in your financial planning.