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Fraud Expert Offers Tips to Defend Against Financial Cybercrime

Tracy SwaimIt only took one fraud investigation for Tracy Swaim to get hooked on solving financial crimes.

At the time, she worked on the case as a paralegal, which put her up close and personal with the effects of fraud on businesses and individuals. Already considering a career change at the time, Swaim says the experience gave her the direction she needed to earn her Certified Fraud Examiners credential.

Swaim joined South State’s Fraud department in 2017 after her family moved to Charleston. In her role as Fraud investigation supervisor, Swaim now oversees more than 100 cases each month from wire fraud to counterfeit checks to elder financial abuse.

Fraud handles case management, loss mitigation and filing Suspicious Activity Reports with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. They also work closely with tellers and other branch personnel, who often encounter suspicious activity first.

Swaim praises tellers’ teamwork in preventing fraud, such as when thieves steal a purse and go to a branch drive-thru to try to cash stolen checks, sometimes even wearing wigs to look like the customer. “The teller who catches on will refuse to cash the stolen check and alert other branches in the region to be on the lookout for this vehicle,” she says.

Knowing how often fraudsters change methods to trap new victims, Swaim is passionate about educating people, saying they’re less likely to fall for the scheme if they’ve heard about it.

Fraudsters are smart and manipulative,” Swaim explains. “We have to be mindful of what we share on the internet.”

One way fraudsters collect personal information is social engineering. They monitor “like and share” posts that ask people to name their elementary school, favorite teachers, first car and the like. It seems harmless to answer those questions, however, they often match typical security questions used to access accounts.

“A savvy cyber fraudster can take information gathered from a data breach and pair it with these answers to access peoples’ accounts,” Swaim warns.

She also warns that creating strong passwords that are different from site to site is one of the best ways to protect yourself from financial cybercrime.

“If your banking password is the same as your favorite clothing website, and the retail website gets breached, chances are whoever has that information will try the password on anything else that you might have, including your online banking,” she explains.

If you or someone you know does fall victim to a scam, Swaim and her team stand ready to help. They celebrate the times they stop fraud before it does much harm.

“If we can work together to stop a ring of counterfeit check activity in its tracks, or work alongside Information Security to shut down a phishing event before any funds are lost by our customers, I call that a win,” she says.

Find more fraud prevention resources here.

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