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Seattle/Western Wash. News Releases for Thu. Jan. 21 - 11:50 am
Banks & Credit Unions
Beware These COVID-Related Scams in 2021
Umpqua Bank - 01/21/21 9:35 AM
Kathryn Albright, EVP Global Payments & Deposits, Umpqua Bank
Kathryn Albright, EVP Global Payments & Deposits, Umpqua Bank
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Since the onset of the pandemic, criminals have used tactics like identity theft and social engineering to defraud government and healthcare programs and illegally cash in—and the new year has brought some new material for them to keep up their scams.

COVID-19 vaccines. New PPP loans. Expanded government assistance. All are positive developments toward addressing the pandemic’s impact, but they also afford opportunities for criminals to fraudulently exploit.

The Threats Continue

On December 21, federal agencies alerted the public regarding the high potential for fraud during the pandemic, especially now that a vaccine is available. Meanwhile, fraudsters are continuing their global phishing and spoofing campaigns, baiting victims with bogus promises of COVID-19 testing, grants, and prescription cards in exchange for personally identifiable information (PII).

“Given the impact COVID-19 has had on all of our lives, it’s no surprise that fraudsters are using it to target peoples’ money and sensitive information,” says Kathryn Albright, Global Payments & Deposits Executive with Umpqua Bank. “But if you know what kinds of red flags to be aware of right now, it can really help protect your business, and you personally, in the long-run.”

Beware of These Scams

  • Recorded phone calls (“Robocalls”) offering the chance to avoid lines and get vaccinated sooner for a set price (e.g., $79.99).
  • Advertisements and price gouging for the sale of fake or potentially dangerous (and unapproved, illegitimate) COVID-19 “medicine” or treatments.
  • Solicitations, whether in person or via text, email, or phone, asking you to provide account information (financial or medical), click an unfamiliar or unexpected link, or visit an unfamiliar webpage in order to “sign up” for treatment.
  • Bogus “contact tracers” who reach out to unsuspecting victims and ask for PII (e.g., Medicare number or financial information) or attempt to collect payment for scheduling a test. Legitimate contact tracers don’t need such information or payment.

Tips to Note

According to the AARP, the key points federal officials want the public to understand when it comes to preventing such scams are:

  • Go to a trusted source for vaccine information (e.g., your doctor or local health department).
  • Don’t buy a vaccine or treatment off the Internet.
  • The vaccine is provided at no cost, although providers may charge a fee for administration (that can be reimbursed).
  • Ignore any solicitations about the vaccine that are delivered to you via text message, social media, phone call, email, or in person, because health officials are not contacting eligible people using these methods.
  • Don’t give money or any type of PII to an unexpected or unfamiliar party contacting you about COVID-19, because fraudsters can use such information to defraud healthcare organizations and commit identity theft.

Remain Vigilant

For additional information regarding the COVID-19 response and updated vaccine distribution details, visit trusted sites like CDC.gov and the FDA vaccine web page periodically—and exercise caution regarding unexpected or unfamiliar communications on the topic.

If You See Something, Say Something

“Fraudsters are adapting fast, and even the smallest amount of fraud can quickly become a scam epidemic,” says Albright. “Try to stay ahead of the fraud game and always keep a healthy skepticism; hyper-vigilance is necessary, even regarding an unexpected opportunity for COVID-19 treatment, as it’s often said, ’If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’”

Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you think you’ve received fraudulent communication regarding COVID-19 treatment. If you suspect that your Umpqua Bank account has been compromised, contact our Customer Resource Center at (866) 486-7782 as soon as possible for assistance.

 




Attached Media Files: Kathryn Albright, EVP Global Payments & Deposits, Umpqua Bank

Island & Snohomish Co. School Districts
Granite Falls School District Announces 2nd Quarter Success in Education Winners!
Granite Falls SD - 01/21/21 9:50 AM
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Congratulations Success in Education Winners!!
The District announces its 2nd quarter ‘Success in Education’ award winners! Congratulations to Granite Falls High School winners: Raymond Johnson, Jared Yaretz, Kaitlyn Cramer & Samuel Wagner; Crossroads High School winners: Ivy Helm & Xavier Swanson ; Granite Falls Middle School winners: Adelle Glenn, Arwen Morgen & Danika Mace ;Virtual Academy winners: Joseph Johnson & Ursula Gallagher; Monte Cristo Elementary winners: Sarai Hildreth, Bentley Billington & Malia Haynes; Mountain Way Elementary winners: Aubrey Connell, Isaiah Fitzhugh & Santiago Cortes. The award represents students that show an understanding of the importance of education and provide a committed, excellent service to other students, staff members, or the community. Candidates were nominated by staff and selected by the school’s administrative team.

The District announces its 2nd quarter certificated and classified staff ‘Success in Education’ awards. The employee award recognizes staff members for creating a thoughtful and exemplary learning environment through committed, excellent service to our schools. The 2nd quarter certificated staff winner: Emily Williams, a teacher at Mountain Way Elementary and MTSS TOSA; Classified staff winner: Kevin Walker, Grounds. 

All candidates were nominated by staff and selected by the district’s administrative team. The winners were announced at the board meeting on January 20, 2021.

Along with the Success in Education awards, Dr. Middleton also awarded the Mucker Awards to the following staff for doing the dirty work in the corners: Curtis Sullivan, Information Technology Specialist; Dan Scollard, Technology Manager; and Deon Freeman, Operations and Maintenance Supervisor.

Congratulations everyone!




Attached Media Files: 2021-01/4230/141792/Success_in_Education_Winners-_Second_Quarter.jpg

Organizations & Associations
M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Announces Record Year of Giving
M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust - 01/21/21 7:45 AM

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Announces Record Year of Giving

Foundation awards $20.6 million at quarterly meeting, $75.9 million granted in 2020 including $26.3 million to Washington nonprofits

 

For Immediate Release

 

(Vancouver, WA) – With the publication of its Fall 2020 Grants Report today, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust announced both a record quarter and a record year of giving as the organization celebrated its 45th anniversary serving the Pacific Northwest.

 

  • At the Fall 2020 Grants Meeting, Murdock Trust Trustees approved 70 grants totaling $20.6 million, including 20 grants totaling $6.2 million to nonprofits serving the Washington region. 
  • Over the course of 2020, Trustees approved 474 grants for $75.9 million, including 167 grants totaling $26.3 million to Washington nonprofits.
  • Since opening in 1975, the Murdock Trust has awarded more than 7,300 grants totaling more than $1.1 billion.

 

“This is a milestone that is inspiring, but also bittersweet, for our organization,” said Steve Moore, executive director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “We are moved because this is a testament to the hard work of our team and the foresight and wisdom of our benefactor, Jack Murdock. But it is also a somber moment because a significant part of our giving is related to the COVID-19 response and the historic events of 2020 that have been devastating for many.”

 

In addition to the Trust’s quarterly Strategic Grants program, the nonprofit foundation introduced two emergency support programs by invitation in 2020 focused on the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery from the historic wildfire season.

 

“There is no question that 2020 was one of the most challenging years for our organization, but in many respects, it was also one of the most rewarding” said Moore. “Like many of our peer foundations, our Trustees recognized that the needs of the communities we serve would be on a scale and pace unlike anything we had seen before. They committed early in 2020 to increase our projected grantmaking and programming budgets and respond in ways that support those on the front lines of need in a timely fashion across the Pacific Northwest.

 

“Though we are heartbroken by the loss and destruction faced by so many, we are heartened and inspired by the rapid, people-focused pivots and innovations introduced by the nonprofit community to serve those in need. We are grateful to have played a small role in their work and for all the trusted partners and leaders across sectors who have worked to serve the common good.”

 

A Trend of Breaking Records

 

Grantmaking in 2020 marks the third time in four years the Murdock Trust set a personal best for community investment, previously achieving new highs in 2017 ($57 million) and 2019 ($67 million). Leaders at the Murdock Trust attribute this growth to both overall trends of the economy and the organization’s approach to its work in response to the enhanced needs of our communities in the PNW.

 

“Our effectiveness as an organization relies on a few factors,” Moore explained. “First and foremost, it is a tribute to the incredible work of the nonprofit sector. We like to say that ‘the fruit of our labor grows on the trees of others.’ We would not be able to make these grants if there were not a wide array of individuals and organizations committed to serving the diverse needs of our region.”

 

“It’s also a reflection of the dedication and commitment of our own grants and program team. We believe in a very personal, very relational approach to our work. Our Program Directors personally visit and meet with every grant applicant. While these in-person conversations had to pivot to virtual platforms due to social distance protocols, they remained committed to connecting with and engaging every organization directly. Our team has never worked harder or given more of their time and energy than they did in 2020.”

 

“But it is also a testament to our incredible investment team. Our generosity is a function of the assets we steward and the investment managers with who we partner. While we wish that we could fund every organization we meet, we must operate thoughtfully and strategically within our resources. Our investment team brings a unique, relational approach to how we manage our endowment. A method founded by our first Chief Investment Officer, Jim Martin, and that has continued under our current CIO, Elmer Huh, has helped our organization consistently provide great returns which has then allowed us to increase our investments in the community.”

 

45 Years of Service

 

In addition to the record-breaking milestone, 2020 also presented another reason for the Murdock Trust family to celebrate as the nonprofit foundation marked 45 years of service to the Pacific Northwest.

 

“Moments like this really give us an opportunity to reflect on the magnitude of the thoughtful investment Jack Murdock made into our community,” said Kimberly Thornbury, senior program director for enrichment, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. In her role, Thornbury works directly with grant applicants as well as oversees the Trust’s enrichment programming and much of the Trust’s work in convening senior leaders across sectors. “To think that decades after he passed away, his work and vision continue to change lives in positive and meaningful ways through our grantmaking, enrichment programs and convenings is incredible.

 

“We had hoped to visit in-person with many of our past grantees and partners to celebrate their work, but those plans obviously had to be put on pause to keep everyone safe and healthy. But our team is looking forward to seeing our partners face-to-face once the experts tell us it is safe and vaccines are distributed broadly. Perhaps we’ll be hosting a 46-and-a-half-year anniversary party instead!”

 

For more information on the organizations served by the Murdock Trust and our grantmaking process, visit murdocktrust.org.

 

 

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The Murdock Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 7,300 grants totaling more than $1.1 billion. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and on our website.

 

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