Fraudulent E-mails and Web Sites (Phishing)
Have you ever received e-mail messages like these?
"We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm you identity."
"During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn't verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information."
It's a scam called "phishing".
Con artists now use email to try to hijack your personal financial information. In a scam known as "phishing," swindlers claim to be from a reputable company and send out thousands of fake e-mails in hopes that consumers will respond with their bank account information, credit card numbers, passwords or other sensitive information.
These e-mails can look quite convincing, with company logos and banners copied from actual Web sites. Often, they will tell you that their security procedure has changed or that they need to update (or validate) your information, and then direct you to a look-alike Web site. If you respond, the thieves use your information to order goods and services or obtain credit.
The number and sophistication of phishing scams sent out to consumers is continuing to increase dramatically. While online banking is widely considered to be as safe as or safer than in-branch or ATM banking, as a general rule you should be careful about giving out your personal financial information over the Internet. Remember, no reputable financial institution will ever request your personal information via e-mail.
Here is a list of recommendations to follow in order to avoid becoming a victim of scams:
- Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information. Phishers have been known to include upsetting or enticing (but false) statements in their e-mails to get people to react immediately. More recently, some phishers have toned down their language, as e-mail recipients have become more aware of the use of this tactic. Either way, the e-mail typically asks for information such as user names, passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, etc.
- Be careful of e-mails that are not personalized and/or may contain spelling errors and/or awkward syntax phrasing. Many phishing e-mails are sent in great bulk and, therefore, are not personalized. If you are suspicious of an e-mail claiming to be from Farmers State Bank, call us at 517-596-2311 before responding. Many are also being sent from other countries from individuals for whom English is a foreign language, thus resulting in misspelled words and awkward syntax and phrasing.
- Be careful of personalized e-mails that ask for personal financial information. Be suspicious of any e-mail that contains some personal financial information, such as a bank account number and asks for other information, such as a PIN. Farmers State Bank will never ask for or send you personal financial information by regular e-mail. If you are an Online Banking customer, there is a feature within Online Banking to send a secure message. This is NOT regular e-mail and information sent this way is secured.
- Do not use links in an e-mail to get to any Web page. Instead, call the bank on the telephone to confirm the address, or log onto the Web site directly by typing in the Web address in you browser.
- Do not complete forms in e-mail messages that ask for personal financial information. Farmers State Bank would never ask you to complete such a form within an e-mail message.
- Only communicate information, such as credit card numbers or account information, via a secure Web site or the telephone. When submitting financial information to a Web site, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your browser, and make sure the Internet address begins with "https". A secure Web server designation can be found by checking the beginning of the Web address in your browser's address bar -- the address should begin "https://..." rather than just "http://..." While you can not be completely sure that a Web site is secure when its address starts with "https", you can be sure the Web site is not secure when it does not start with "https".
- Regularly log on to your online accounts and check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate. One of the real advantages of banking online is being able to regularly review your account for unauthorized or unusual activity. If anything is suspicious, contact us at 517-596-2311 and all card issuers immediately.
- Ensure that your browser is up to date and security patches applied. Always visit your browser's home page to download the latest security updates even if they don't alert you to do so.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, REMEMBER THAT FARMERS STATE BANK WILL NEVER CONTACT YOU VIA TELEPHONE OR E-MAIL REQUESTING PERSONAL INFORMATION, YOUR ACCESS ID, OR YOUR PASSCODE. IF YOU ARE CONTACTED BY ANYONE REQUESTING THIS INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY AT 517-596-2311.
Recommended Actions if You've Become a Victim of a Phishing Scam
If You Have Given Out Your Credit, Debit, or ATM Card Information
- Report the incident to the card issuer as quickly as possible.
- Report using toll-free numbers and 24-hour service that many companies have established to deal with such emergencies.
- Request your card issuer close your compromised account number and reissue you a new card with a different number.
- Monitor your account activity and review account statements carefully after the information loss.
- If any unauthorized charges appear, call the card issuers immediately and follow up with a hard copy letter via a traditional delivery service such as the U.S. Postal Service (keep a copy for yourself) describing each questionable charge.
If You Have Given Out Your Bank Account Information
- Report the theft of this information to the bank as quickly as possible.
- Request your bank close the compromised account and re-open a like account with a different number.
If You Have Given Out Your Personal Identification Information
If you believe you have given out personal information such as your name, address, and Social Security number to someone who may use it for fraud:
Contact the three major credit reporting agencies -- Experian, Equifax and Trans Union -- and do the following:
- Request that the agencies place a fraud alert and victim's statement in your file.
- Request a free copy of your credit report to check whether any accounts were opened without your consent.
- Request that the agencies remove inquiries and/or fraudulent accounts stemming from the theft.
Major Credit Bureaus
Equifax -- www. equifax.com
- To order you report, call: 800-685-1111 or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
- To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
- Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.
Experian -- www.experian.com
- To order your report, call 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write: P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013.
- To report fraud, call 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write: P.O. Box 9530 Allen, TX 75013. TDD: 1-800-972-0322.
Trans Union - www.transunion.com
- To order your report, call: 800-888-4213 or write: P.O. Box 1000, Chester , PA 19022.
- To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 670, Fullerton, CA 92634. TDD: 1-877-53-7803.
Additional Actions to Take
- If bank accounts were set up without your consent, close them.
- Contact your local police department to file a criminal report.
- Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline to report the unauthorized use of your personal identification information.
- Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your identity theft.
- Check to see whether an unauthorized driver's license number has been issued in your name.
- Notify the passport office to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a passport in your name.
- File a compliant with the Federal Trade Commission. Ask for a free copy of "ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen in Your Good Name," a guide that will help you guard against and recover from your theft -- and guard against it in the future.
- Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak to regarding the incident. Follow up your phone calls with letters. Keep copies of all correspondence.