FRAUD - How to Protect Yourself
is a term that has become part of our everyday vocabulary. You probably
hear variations of fraud ranging from identity theft, online fraud, such
as phishing and pharming, to offline fraud, including credit card, phone
solicitations, print fraud, check scams, and mail fraud. You can help
protect your personal information and accounts by using caution when
providing confidential information. Also, by keeping yourself updated on
the latest fraud alerts, you can help prevent yourself from becoming a
theft is the unlawful act of capturing, transferring, and/or using one or
more pieces of another person's personal identifying information
(including, but not limited to, name, address, driver's license, date of
birth, Social Security number, account information, account login
credentials, or family identifiers) and using or attempting to use that
information to establish or take over a credit, deposit, or other
financial account ("account") in that person's name.
theft falls into one of two categories:
name fraud: Establishing (or attempting to establish) an account(s) using
another person's identity.
Account takeover: Establishing (or attempting to establish) control of an
existing account(s) without authority of the account holder. Account
takeover does not include solely the posting of unauthorized transactions
against and existing account, such as forged-maker signature, counterfeit,
and credit card misuse.
Phishers use fraudulent emails or pop-up Web pages that appear legitimate
and are designed to deceive you into sharing personal or account
Pharming occurs when you type in a Web address and it redirects you to a
fraudulent Web site without your knowledge or consent. The Web site will
try and look similar to the legitimate site in hopes of capturing your
Credit Card Fraud
Credit Card fraud can occur when someone takes your card and uses it
without your consent. It can also happen when the card sits safely in your
Scammers will attempt to randomly call people with hopes to lure them with
cash gifts or prizes in exchange for personal or account information.
Scammers will use local and community newspapers publishing fake
advertisements with special rates and offers. If clients call, they are
asked for their personal information and for an advance payment before the
transaction can be completed.
Scammers will overpay for an item purchased and ask the difference to be
wired back. Most times the check was counterfeit or forged for a higher
Mail fraud occurs when scammers illegally intercept your mail or when you
receive unrealistic offers.
How To Identify Fraud
keeping on top of your transactions, you can spot any suspicious activity. With Online
Banking you can view your transactions 24/7.
Tips on how to help identify fraud:
your bank statements monthly.
your credit report at least once a year.
more information about ordering free credit reports, go to the special Web
site established by the three credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com
or call 815.937.2800.
more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft and the
steps you can take to safeguard your computers and personal information,
review the online
educational tool* on FDIC's Web site.
Learn More About Fraud
following are some useful links to learn more about online fraud:
The following are examples of fraud that
we've identified. We’ve categorized the scams by their subject matter
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a warning about an email
scam that looks like official communications from the IRS. The email scam
notifies individuals of an impending audit or an offer to access a refund.
The fake message includes links to Web pages that use graphics from the
IRS and an official copyright notice. The IRS does not communicate with
taxpayers via email. If the IRS needs to contact you, it will do so by
mail or phone.
Million Dollar Sweepstakes
Official notices from the World Lottery Association asserting you've won a
million dollar sweepstakes are fraudulent. The scam states that funds have
been deposited with Blah Blah Blah Bank Financial, Inc. (a fictitious
company) and includes a check for $3,999 to "assist in legal and
administration fees." The fake letter asks you to keep your winnings
from the public until the claim can be processed. Blah Blah Blah Bank is
not a part of the scam and the included check is fake and cannot be
International ATM Alert
Your bank, and other financial institutions, have observed an
unprecedented level of fraudulent transactions occurring at ATMs outside
the US. In order to protect cardholders traveling outside the US, it has
been necessary to temporarily restrict the ATM spending limits in specific
areas outside the US. Financial Institutions make effort to exclude their
clients with non-US addresses from these changes. While there are only a
few areas restricted at this time, additional areas may be added at any
time as new areas with concentrated fraud are identified. Due to the
changing nature of this situation, no listing of restricted areas or of
the value of the restricted limits will be provided.
Protecting Your Computer and Online accounts
Protect your computer like you protect your checkbook. The following tips
will help you protect your computer and your online accounts:
cognizant of your surroundings when using a public computer or working
on a wireless network.
your online accounts active – such as Online Banking with Bill Pay
– to watch for any suspicious transactions.
protect your computer and your accounts by installing anti-spyware on
your computer. Anti-spyware can help prevent the collection of your
personal and account information without your knowledge.
your antivirus software regularly to help protect your computer
against viruses and other harmful computer codes.
up-to-date on the latest online security concerns such as viruses,
keyloggers, and trojan horses. These destructive software programs can
often appear to be authentic, but can result in damage to your
Suspicious Activity/Account at Risk
Some clients have received emails that convey a sense of urgency and warn
them that their accounts are at risk. For example, they notify clients
that your bank suspects fraudulent activities or charges on their
accounts. The fraudulent emails often include the name of a fictitious
business and dollar amounts of the "suspected" charges and ask
clients to respond to the emails to resolve the issue.
Bank System/Technical Updates
Many fraudulent emails mention "system," "technical"
or "technology" updates at your bank. For example, one email
tells clients that there has been a "regular update and
verification" to their Online Banking accounts and that they need to
verify their information. Clients are warned that their access to Online
Banking will be limited if they do not respond. Your Bank will never ask
for passwords or login information during any system update procedure.
Be wary of telephone scammers. If you receive a call from someone asking
for personal and account information, call the company back using a phone
number you know is legitimate. Here are some examples of recent fraudulent
of $10,000 cash." The caller tells clients that they've won a
gift of $10,000. Clients are asked to confirm their account and
routing numbers so that the money can be transferred to their accounts
Possible Fraudulent Card Information" Clients recieve a voice
mail and are asked to verify possible fraudulent activities on their
cards. The voice mail includes bogus phone numbers for clients to
Some scammers use local and community newspapers to publish fraudulent
advertisements that use a bank logo. These ads offer special rates for
debt consolidation, small businesses and loans for mortgages.
Scammers use fraudulent contact information such as mailing addresses,
phone and fax numbers and claim to be "third-party consultants."
When unsuspecting consumers contact the scammers, the callers are asked to
provide their personal and account information. Scammers then tell
applicants that their loans have been approved but that they first need to
make an advance payment or deposit before the loans can be advanced by
Scammers may deceive clients into responding to a legitimate online or
newspaper advertisement or may victimize clients by paying for goods with
a stolen or counterfeit check for more than the agreed upon amount. The
clients are then asked to return the overpayment either by a wire transfer
or an official check.
Scammers may steal or tamper with your mail. Be sure to pick up your mail
daily. Drop your mail in an official postal mailbox.
Other Types of Fraud:
Originally this type of fraud was called the Nigerian 419/Advance fee but
now it usually involves an array of foreign countries. This type of fraud
typically involves a client being contacted for employment, winning a
lottery they never entered, or claiming an inheritance on a long lost
relative they never knew. Clients are instructed to pre-pay for various
bank and transfer fees before collecting the money.
If you receive an email that appears to be from a bank or financial
institution and it asks you to provide, update, or verify personal or
account information, do not respond. The email was probably not authorized
by your bank and is fraudulent. Please forward information about the email
to your bank or financial institution.
Help Protect Yourself from Fraud
There are many things you can do to help
secure your identity and your accounts. Here are some tips to follow.
include your Social Security Number or driver's license number on
leave incoming mail lying around.
your mail in an official postal mailbox.
or destroy any junk mail before you throw it away.
respond to unsolicited requests for personal or account information.
a safe deposit box to protect important documents.
your credit report at least once a year.
more information about ordering free credit reports, go to the special
Web site established by the three credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com
beyond the logo. To make fraudulent emails or Web sites appear real,
scammers often include actual logos and images of legitimate
companies. They also convey a sense of urgency, stating that if you
fail to provide, update, or verify your personal or account
information, access to your accounts will be suspended. It's important
that you look beyond the logo and not give out your information.
your spam filter. Many email services now have spam filters that
minimize the amount of spam you receive. The filters can help you
minimize the number of fraudulent emails in your inbox.
don't click. Even if you do open a suspicious email, don't click on
any links. By clicking on the links, you could unknowingly download a
virus or spyware to your computer. Even if you think the email is
legitimate, type Web addresses into your browser instead of clicking
on links. If the email is from an institution you do business with,
use a bookmark that you've already created to visit the company's Web
your online passwords often. The rule of thumb is to change your
password every 30 to 60 days. Be creative with your passwords – stay
away from obvious passwords like your zip code, year of birth, or
sensitive information such as your mother's maiden name or your Social
Security Number. Include symbols and/ or upper and lower case letters
so passwords can't be easily intercepted, i.e.,%Eq?St.
your anti-virus and anti-spam software. By keeping anti-virus and
anti-spam software up to date on your computers, you make it more
difficult for scammers to access your personal and account
information. You can purchase anti-virus and anti-spyware software at
major retail stores, as well as on the Internet.
emails from unknown senders with nonsensical subject lines.
Credit Card Fraud
your cards immediately once they arrive in the mail.
your PIN and don't write it on anything, especially something in your
enter your card online unless you're on a secure site. Don't send your
credit card number in the mail.
a record of all your account numbers, expiration dates, and contact
information for each issuer. This will come in handy if your wallet is
lost or stolen.
a lost or stolen card right away. Quick action will minimize potential
loss and liability.
your receipts to compare against your billing statement. When
discarding receipts, tear them up or shred them.
your statements monthly, making sure you recognize all charges. If you
see any suspicious transactions, contact your bank immediately.
review receipts for voided transactions and be sure they do not post
to your account.
your carbons. Do not leave them behind without tearing them up.
leave your purse, wallet, cards or receipts unattended. Always keep
them secure or in your sight.
carry cards that you need, leaving others in a safe place at home.
give out your account number unless you know and trust the company.
lieu of a signature on your credit card, write "verify signature
on driver's license."
your hand from view of others when entering your PIN at POST/ATMs.
your home and cellular phone numbers with the Federal Do Not Call
Registry at 888.382.1222 to prohibit telemarketers from calling you.
caution when disclosing personal information.
your homework. If you see an advertisement for a loan or mortgage,
make sure that it is legitimate. If it sounds too good to be true, it
probably is. Check out the source through the Better Business Bureau.
Direct Deposit for paychecks, Social Security payments and other
aware of fake check scams that promise easy money for working at home,
winning sweepstakes or depositing checks from foreign countries.
not leave your checkbook unattended.
who you are doing business with.
lost or stolen checks immediately to your bank or financial
any compromised accounts to new accounts and report the incidents.
documents containing your personal and financial information before
placing them in the trash.
any unauthorized transactions immediately.
the lender immediately if you receive a call, confirmation, or decline
letter on a loan that you did not apply for. You could be a victim of
How Scammers Get Your Email Address
Many scammers randomly
generate email addresses - that's why you may have received fraudulent
emails that appear to be from banks you do not have an account with. They
also purchase mailing lists, obtain email addresses online from Web pages,
chat rooms, online auctions, and directories or from illegitimate sources.
How To Report Fraud
report a suspicious email, Web page, or phone call, forward
information about the email or Web page to your local police.
you believe you have provided personal or account information in
response to a fraudulent email, Web site, or phone call, immediately
contact your bank and the police department.
Credit Watch and Equifax Credit Report are trademarks of Equifax Consumer
Services, Inc. and Equifax is a registered trademark of Equifax Inc., used
with permission. Credit information products are provided by Equifax
Consumer Services, Inc. HTPD does not guarantee or assume liability for
any third-party products or services.