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There’s a new type of Internet piracy called “phishing”. It’s pronounced “fishing”, and that’s exactly what these thieves are doing: “fishing” for your personal financial information. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.
In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver’s licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.
Here’s how phishing works:
In a typical case, you’ll receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the e-mail may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.
The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as “immediate attention required,” or "Please contact us immediately about your account.” The e-mail will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution’s website.
In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual website. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information.
In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.
If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.
How to protect yourself
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. E-mails and Internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
- If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the financial institution yourself. You can find phone numbers and websites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look the company up in the phone book or on the Internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
- Never provide your password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet request. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your savings.
- Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, periodically review activity online to catch suspicious activity.
Report all suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at
www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
ATM and debit cards continue to be popular offerings for both our personal and business customers. They are a fast, convenient way to access cash and make payments directly from your First State Bank of Odem Bank account. The benefits of our ATM and debit cards are known and appreciated by our customers.
What you may not know are the risks that come with holding an ATM or debit card. A wide variety of scams can be perpetrated and the scams are becoming more prevalent. As your hometown bank, we wanted you to be aware of these risks and let you know what you can do to protect yourself.
How fraud occurs
In order for fraud to occur, a thief needs both your Personal ID number and the magnetic stripe information on the back of your card. If your card is stolen or duplicated, the thief has to find some way to get your PIN. Common methods used to steal or duplicate cards and obtain the PIN include:
How you can protect yourself
- Easily identified PINs - Your purse or wallet is stolen and the thief finds your PIN written down somewhere close to your card, or, successfully tries a commonly used PIN, such as your birth date, based on information found in your wallet.
- Surf and Pick Pocket - A thief watches as you enter the PIN and subsequently distracts you and steals your debit card.
- Card Jam - Various devices are used to jam your card in the ATM machine. After your card becomes jammed, a helpful stranger suggests that you try to input your PIN a few times, but the card remains stuck. After you leave, they remove your card and have your PIN.
- Skim and Clone - There have been cases of equipment being set up at a business to illegally collect your PIN and card information. For example, when you hand over your card to make a purchase, the card is run through a device that sends your information to the financial institution. The person then swipes the card a second time to record the information that allows them to make a duplicate card. At the same time, a camera records your PIN information.
- Bogus machines - A bogus machine, that replaces the real PIN Pad, lifts your card and PIN information and issues a transaction receipt but does not actually send the transaction to the bank. The implicated employee covers your purchase by putting cash in the register so that the owner is unaware of any fraud since the store's books balance. At a future date, the employee uses the stolen data to create a card to empty the funds from your bank account. The evidence of the fraud could be that you have a transaction receipt (if indeed you received one) for a purchase but the purchase does not appear on your bank statement.
- Phishing - You receive an unsolicited email that appears to come from a bank, governmental agency or legitimate organization. The email uses urgent language (like "requires immediate attention") to entice readers to respond to the email and provide their card number and PIN. The thieves then use the information to make unauthorized transactions.
Despite these risks you can protect your accounts by following common sense and these tips.
- Never disclose your PIN number and reset it regularly. Only you have your PIN - not even the bank or card processors know your PIN. It is best to memorize your PIN. If you write it down, store it in a safe place that is not accessible to others. Protecting your PIN is your first and most important line of defense.
- Carefully select your PIN. Do not use obvious codes when selecting a PIN. If you suspect someone knows your PIN, then reset it.
- Protect your PIN. Use your hand or body to shield the PIN pad to prevent "shoulder surfers" from observing your PIN.
- Monitor your account activity regularly. Access your account via your First State Bank of Odem online banking account to monitor your latest account activity.
- Swipe your card yourself. If you have your card, a thief does not. Insist on retaining physical control of your card to prevent skimming. Always safeguard your card and never lend it to anyone.
If you discover fraud on your card, report the fraud to the police as soon as possible. Then, inform the bank. The bank will cancel your card and issue you a new one (with a different number, of course) immediately. You may also call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP or MasterCard at 800-500-1044 to report the theft.
Your personal financial security is important to First State Bank of Odem. Please take these precautions to protect your family's and business' financial well being. We appreciate being your hometown bank.