Consumer Advice: How to Avoid Phishing Scams:
The number and sophistication of phishing scams sent out to consumers is continuing to increase dramatically. While online banking and e-commerce is very safe, as a general rule you should be careful about giving out your personal financial information over the Internet. Listed below are recommendations that can be used to avoid becoming a victim of these scams.
1. Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information:
- Unless the email is digitally signed, you can't be sure it wasn't forged or "spoofed".
- Phishers typically include upsetting or exciting (but false) statements in their emails to get people to react immediately.
- They typically ask for information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.
- Phisher emails are typically NOT personalized, while valid messages from your bank or e-commerce company generally are.
2. Don't use the links in an email to get to any web page, if you suspect the message might not be authentic.
- Instead, call the company on the telephone, or log onto the website directly by typing in the Web address in your browser.
3. Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information.
- You should only communicate information such as credit card numbers or account information via a secure website or the telephone.
4. Always ensure that you're using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your Web browser.
- To make sure you're on a secure Web server, check the beginning of the Web address in your browsers address bar - it should be "https://" rather than just "http://"
5. Consider installing a Web browser tool bar to help protect you from known phishing fraud websites.
- EarthLink Scam Blocker is part of a free browser toolbar that alerts you before you visit a page that's on EarthLink’s list of known fraudulent phisher Web sites.
- Its free to all Internet users - download at http://www.earthlink.net/earthlinktoolbar
6. Regularly log into your online accounts.
- Don't leave it for as long as a month before you check each account.
7. Regularly check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.
- If anything is suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers.
8. Ensure that your browser is up to date and security patches applied.
- In particular, people who use the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser should immediately go to the Microsoft Security home page -- http://www.microsoft.com/security/ -- to download a special patch relating to certain phishing schemes.
- Always report "phishing" or “spoofed” e-mails to the following groups:
- Forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Forward the email to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com.
Forward the email to the "abuse" email address at the company that is being spoofed (e.g. "firstname.lastname@example.org").
- When forwarding spoofed messages, always include the entire original email with its original header information intact.
- Notify the Internet Fraud Complaint Center of the FBI by filing a complaint on their website: www.ifccfbi.gov
For more information, check some of the following sources:
For more information about how to protect yourself: See our what to do if It Happens to You: at http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs17a.htm.
Read the information and tips put out by the Federal Trade Commission about phishing at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt127.shtm.
Read the Department of Justice's recent whitepaper "Special Report on Phishing" at http://www.antiphishing.org/DOJ_Special_Report_On_Phishing_Mar04.pdf
Identity theft occurs... when a person's identifying information such as your name, birth date, social security number or bank account number is used without permission and with the intent to defraud.
WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR FINANCIAL IDENTITY
- Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every year.
- Review the information. Check to make sure that the information is ACCURATE, especially your name, address and social security number.
- Look for discrepancies or any possible indications of fraud - unauthorized applications, unfamiliar credit accounts, credit inquires and defaults or delinquencies that were not initiated or caused by you.
- Check your Social Security and Benefits information periodically to make sure that no one is using your social security number for employment.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR ACCOUNTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
- Carefully review monthly statements and utility bills for unauthorized charges
Unlawful Internet Gambling Prohibition Notice
In compliance with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement act of 2006 (UIGEA) and implementing regulations (Regulation GG) issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the United States Department of Treasury, certain transactions are prohibited within your account. Our financial institution is required to notify our commercial customers of this prohibition.
"Unlawful Internet gambling" is defined in UIEGA as placing, receiving, or otherwise knowingly transmitting a bet or wager by any means which involves the use, at least in part, of the Internet where such bet or wager is unlawful under any applicable Federal or State law in the State or Tribal lands in which the bet or wager is initiated, received, or otherwise made.
"Restricted transactions" are defined in Regulation GG to be transactions in which funds are knowingly accepted by gambling businesses in connection with participation by others in unlawful Internet gambling. Restricted transactions are prohibited from being processed through this account or any account you hold with our institution. Restricted transactions generally include, but are not limited to, those in which credit, electronic fund transfers, checks, debit card or credit card transactions, or drafts are knowingly accepted by gambling businesses in connection with the participation by others in unlawful Internet gambling. Internet gambling will generally be considered to be unlawful unless verifiable authorization is obtained by an appropriate State or Tribal authority
Safe Internet Banking
Tips for Safe Banking Over the Internet
As use of the Internet continues to expand, more banks and thrifts are using the Web to offer products and services or otherwise enhance communications with consumers.
The Internet offers the potential for safe, convenient new ways to shop for financial services and conduct banking business, any day, any time. However, safe banking online involves making good choices – decisions that will help you avoid costly surprises or even scams.
This brochure offers information and tips to help you if you are thinking about or already using online banking systems. We will tell you how to:
- Confirm that an online bank is legitimate and that your deposits are insured
- Keep your personal information private and secure
- Understand your rights as a consumer
Learn where to go for more assistance from banking regulators
Confirm that an Online Bank Is Legitimate and that Your Deposits Are Insured
Whether you are selecting a traditional bank or an online bank that has no physical offices, it’s wise to make sure that it is legitimate and that your deposits are federally insured. Here are tips specifically designed for consumers considering banking over the Internet.
Read key information about the bank posted on its Web site.
Most bank Web sites have an "About Us" section or something similar that describes the institution. You may find a brief history of the bank, the official name and address of the bank’s headquarters, and information about its insurance coverage from the FDIC.
Protect yourself from fraudulent Web sites.
For example, watch out for copycat Web sites that deliberately use a name or Web address very similar to, but not the same as, that of a real financial institution. The intent is to lure you into clicking onto their Web site and giving your personal information, such as your account number and password. Always check to see that you have typed the correct Web site address for your bank before conducting a transaction.
Verify the bank’s insurance status.
To verify a bank’s insurance status, look for the familiar FDIC logo or the words "Member FDIC" or "FDIC Insured" on the Web site.
Also, you should check the FDIC’s online database of FDIC-insured institutions. You can search for an institution by going to Bank Find (formerly “Is My Bank Insured?”). Search by name, city, state or zip code of the bank, and click the "Find" button. A positive match will display the official name of the bank, the date it became insured, its insurance certificate number, the main office location for the bank (and branches), its primary government regulator, and other links to detailed information about the bank. If your bank does not appear on this list, contact the FDIC.
Some bank Web sites provide links directly to the FDIC’s Web site to assist you in identifying or verifying the FDIC insurance protection of their deposits.
Also remember that not all banks operating on the Internet are insured by the FDIC. Many banks that are not FDIC-insured are chartered overseas. If you choose to use a bank chartered overseas, it is important for you to know that the FDIC may not insure your deposits. Check with your bank or the FDIC if you are not certain.
For insurance purposes, be aware that a bank may use different names for its online and traditional services; this does not mean you are dealing with separate banks.
This means, for example, that to determine your maximum FDIC insurance coverage, your deposits at the parent bank will be added together with those at the separately named bank Web site and will be insured for up to the maximum amount covered for one bank. Talk to your banker if you have questions.
Know where to get more information about FDIC insurance.
Don't worry about your deposit insurance coverage if you or your family has $250,000 or less in all your accounts combined at the same FDIC-insured bank. But if your accounts total more than $250,000, find out if they're within the insurance limit. Contact your bank for more information.
For additional assistance from the FDIC about the legitimacy of an institution or the insurance of your deposits, call the FDIC's Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs toll-free at 1-877-275-3342 or send an e-mail via the FDIC’s online Customer Assistance page.
The FDIC’s Web site also has an interactive service called EDIE (Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator) that can help you determine the amount of your insurance coverage. Or, you can read the online deposit insurance brochure "Your Insured Deposits."
It’s important to note that only deposits offered by FDIC-insured institutions are protected by the FDIC. Non-deposit investment and insurance products, such as mutual funds, stocks, annuities and life insurance policies that may be sold through Web sites or at the bank itself, are not FDIC-insured, are not guaranteed by the bank, and may lose value.
Some consumers may want to know how their personal information is used by their bank and whether it is shared with affiliates of the bank or other parties.
Banks may want to share information about you to help market products specific to your needs and interests. If you do not wish to participate in information sharing, however, you have the right to prevent your bank from sharing your private personal information with parties not affiliated with the bank, except in certain limited circumstances. As of July 2001, your bank should provide a clear method for you to "opt out" of this type of information sharing.
You may have heard that some companies track your Web browsing habits while at their site, to understand your interests and then to market particular services or promotions. You may want to ask whether your bank tracks your browsing habits if these practices concern you. Also, your Web browser may enable you to block the ability of outside companies to track your browsing habits.
Your bank and your internet service provider may have more information about how to protect your privacy online.
Help Keep Your Transaction Secure
The Internet is a public network. Therefore, it is important to learn how to safeguard your banking information, credit card numbers, Social Security Number and other personal data.
Look at your bank’s Web site for information about its security practices, or contact the bank directly.
Also learn about and take advantage of security features. Some examples are:
- Encryption is the process of scrambling private information to prevent unauthorized access. To show that your transmission is encrypted, some browsers display a small icon on your screen that looks like a "lock" or a "key" whenever you conduct secure transactions online. Avoid sending sensitive information, such as account numbers, through unsecured e-mail.
- Passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs) should be used when accessing an account online. Your password should be unique to you and you should change it regularly. Do not use birthdates or other numbers or words that may be easy for others to guess. Always carefully control to whom you give your password. For example, if you use a financial company that requires your passwords in order to gather your financial data from various sources, make sure you learn about the company’s privacy and security practices.
- General security over your personal computer such as virus protection and physical access controls should be used and updated regularly. Contact your hardware and software suppliers or Internet service provider to ensure you have the latest in security updates.
If you have a security concern about your online accounts, contact your bank to discuss possible problems and remedies.
Remember that nonfinancial Web sites that are linked to your bank’s site are not FDIC-insured.
As an added convenience to their customers, some banks offer online links to merchants, retail stores, travel agents and other nonfinancial sites. An outside company’s products and services are not insured by the FDIC, and your bank may not guarantee the products and services.
As in everyday business, before you order a product or service online, make sure you are comfortable with the reputation of the company making the offer. Only then should you give out your credit card or debit card number. And never give the number unless you initiated the transaction.
Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (www.fdic.gov)