Experts share how to prevent these fraud scams in Birmingham


Bryant Bank / Fraud Prevention
TK Wood (left) and Natalie Spott (right), two experts at Bryant Bank who help their customers avoid sources of fraud. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Every now and then, the local news will report on the latest fraud technique criminals are using to scam their victims. Luckily, for every new fraud technique there is a team at Alabama’s Bryant Bank dedicated to protecting potential victims. Keep reading to learn more and see how you can protect yourself against fraud in Alabama.

Why fraud prevention is important

Unfortunately, anyone can fall victim to a fraud scam. Scammers are very skilled at stealing information, so it’s important to know how to spot and avoid commonly-used fraud techniques.

To learn more about fraud prevention, we spoke with several experts at Bryant Bank:

  • Mark Sullivan, Executive Vice President, Administration
  • TK Wood, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking
  • Natalie Spott, Vice President, Birmingham Branch Director

The results of fraud can be dire. Victims can find themselves on the hook for huge purchases or have vast amounts of money drained from their account.

“From a commercial standpoint, I’ve known companies that have been victims of wire fraud in excess of $250,000. That sort of fraud can literally cripple an organization, it’s devastating. There are processes in place to try and recoup some of that, but fraud can literally cost you everything.”

TK Wood, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking

Although the victim of fraud can recoup some of their losses to fraud, it’s not always easy. The process takes time, a lot of work and is a big inconvenience for the victim. Depending on the situation, the bank may need to enroll the customer in new services to protect them—or shut down their account altogether, order new checks and start from scratch.

Common types of fraud in Alabama

Bryant Bank / Fraud Prevention
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

According to Mark Sullivan, check fraud is one of the most frequent types of fraud his team sees. There are dozens of different types of check fraud, but commonly includes criminals stealing or forging someone else’s check to access the funds from their accounts.

“We’re dealing with old-fashioned check fraud more and more these days. It’s the way most fraud used to be carried out, and it’s made a big comeback recently. On our end, we’re seeing counterfeit or forged checks presented to the banking system on a daily basis.”

Mark Sullivan, Executive Vice President, Administration

Another type of fraud that can affect customers is debit card fraud, which can happen when a merchant or vendor’s card-reading components have been compromised. Bryant Bank’s Natalie Spott shared how she was personally a victim of debit card fraud.

“I used my debit card to pay for dinner at a restaurant, and then I noticed suspicious charges on my card shortly thereafter. Someone used my card information to purchase expensive gift cards from a drugstore. My debit card could have been compromised by someone who worked at the restaurant, or it could have been captured by a skimmer.”

Natalie Spott, Vice President, Birmingham Branch Director

A skimmer is a small device that’s placed on a card reader to capture and transmit card information electronically to someone’s device. Skimmers are usually installed on high-traffic areas like ATMs and gas station pumps, and can be hard to spot since they’re designed to blend in.

Bryant Bank / Fraud Prevention
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

However, criminals don’t have to resort to high-tech accessories like skimmers to wreak havoc on their victim’s finances. Phishing—where criminals portray themselves as representatives of your bank through call, text or email—is another commonly-used fraud technique.

“These crooks are very skilled when it comes to coaxing people into giving up identifying information or credentials on their bank account. They even have the ability to fake Caller-ID to make it look like they are from your bank. Remember, a banker is NEVER going to call you to ask for your account number, your user ID, your PIN or anything like that. I can’t emphasize this enough—never give that information out to an unsolicited caller.”

Mark Sullivan, Executive Vice President, Administration

With the rise in AI (Artificial Intelligence) programs, tech-savvy scammers can make a bot that sounds just like a relative or close friend to ask you for money. If you start getting suspicious, hang up and contact your relative or friend on a trusted communication method to confirm it’s really them.

When it comes to commercial fraud prevention, TK Wood recommends that companies reduce the number of physical checks they issue to eliminate some of the risk of ACH fraud.

“One way companies can reduce their risk is by setting up as many ACH payments as they can to vendors and customers. If a company with hundreds of employees is sending out payroll checks every two weeks, that’s a lot checks that can fall into the wrong hands. It’s often best to get those employees set up on direct deposit instead.”

TK Wood, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking

How YOU can protect yourself from fraud

Bryant Bank / Fraud Prevention
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Here’s the good news. Bryant Bank takes the security and safety of its customers’ privacy very seriously. Their team is constantly improving the security of their services, with new text fraud alerts, Card Management, Mobile Wallets and more. Plus, their team is trained to look for fraudulent red flags.

“We had one customer who visited our branch and wanted to pull out a lot of cash at one time. When we asked, she told us that she was supposed to take the cash to another bank. Apparently, someone had called pretending to be her grandchild and requesting lots of money. The customer thought she was helping, but it ended up being a scam. Luckily, we were able to help her look more closely and see that the claims were false.”

Natalie Spott, Vice President, Birmingham Branch Director

However, there are still a few steps that individuals can take to reduce their risk of being a victim of fraud. Here are a few ways you can help prevent fraud:

  • Check your bank account daily and utilize the “Alert” feature available with Bryant Bank’s Online Banking.
  • Beware of suspicious emails from unknown addresses or someone unlikely to send you an email, and don’t click on any links or attachments.
  • Inspect card readers at ATMs, gas stations and other vendors. If they appear damaged or modified, don’t use them.
  • Report any lost or stolen cards immediately.
  • Contact Bryant Bank immediately if you suspect fraud or a breach of your account or systems.
  • Actively engage in Treasury Management Services such as positive pay, which can allow you to monitor any checks you write more closely. 

“Don’t hesitate to call your bank and ask questions. If you see any suspicious activity on your account or you receive something fishy in the mail, call your banker and ask questions. Be vigilant and pay attention to your credit card statement and your checking account statement!”

Natalie Spott, Vice President, Birmingham Branch Director

If you believe you are a victim of fraud or the recipient of suspicious communication, please call your bank immediately.

Click here to learn more about how to combat fraud and scams.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from fraud is to have a banker that knows your account and calls you by name. To learn more about Bryant Bank and how they protect their customers, visit their website or call 1-855-4BRYANT (1.855.427.9268).

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Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer at Bham Now

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