- About Us
Protect yourself from fraud and exploitation.
Better Banks is a proud participant in the AARP BankSafe financial-exploitation prevention training to educate employees how to protect consumers and fight exploitation.
Better Banks is proud to announce that we have earned the AARP BankSafe Trained Seal for the third year in a row. This honor is in recognition of the training we have undergone and policies we have in place to better protect the assets of older Americans. Financial exploitation hurts us all. Better Banks is proud to be a part of this effort to protect our customers, especially now when scam activity in the US is at an all-time high, and the need for a meaningful, broad-based response has never been more urgent.
The AARP Initiative has trained Better Banks employees to recognize the red flags, understand the appropriate steps to take, and feel empowered to put their knowledge and skills to work. So when you bank at Better Banks, you know your money is in good hands and we know how to identify fraud and exploitation to keep you safe.
Your security is our top priority.
Contact us to report:
Fraud or suspicious activity
Lost or stolen debit cards
Lost or stolen credit cards
We work tirelessly to protect your money and personal information. As a locally owned community bank, we are committed to providing the highest level of customer service and innovative banking products and we are committed to your privacy and security.
In our rapidly changing world of technology, fraud attempts are constant, by educating yourself on how to stop and prevent fraud you’ll stay safer online.
We understand that when you bank with us, you’re trusting us with your money. We take that responsibility to heart. We have safeguards in place to help keep your bank accounts and personal information secure. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft, fraud and online scams.
We understand that fraud and identity theft can be very disruptive, if we identify potential fraudulent activity on any of your accounts, we will contact you immediately.
If you suspect you may be the victim of fraud or identity theft, or notice suspicious activity on your account, please contact us immediately at 309.272.1000.
- Multi-Factor Authentication
Protect your 2FA codes along with your password!
Google recently removed a malicious app from their Google Play store. The app, “2FA Authenticator” was available for download for 2 weeks and was downloaded more than 10,000 times.
Hackers used the fully functional 2FA Authenticator app to not only deliver two-factor authentication (2FA) codes but it also downloaded a virus giving the hackers remote access to the user's phone. The virus uses keylogging and screen captures in order to steal banking credentials and financial information from the unsuspecting user. Anyone who downloaded the software is advised to remove the app from their Android phone, change their bank credentials, and scan their phone for malicious software that may still reside on their Android.
Better Banks does NOT utilize the ‘2FA Authenticator’ software. We support the 'Authy Authenticator App' for our Digital Banking platform. Authy is highly regarded and considered to offer the best combination of compatibility, usability, security, and reliability.
You should always be careful about the applications that you download from the Android or Apple stores. Additionally, you should also protect any 2FA codes you receive, similarly to how you protect your passwords. No one should ask for your password, and the same is true for 2FA codes.
For example, in attempt to hack into your account, a scammer may click the ‘reset password’ link in order to change the password for your Amazon account. When the fraudster encounters a prompt for a 2FA code that was sent to your cell phone, they will call you impersonating an Amazon support person. Representatives that support Amazon will never ask for your account password or a 2FA verification code. The same is true for all companies (i.e. Banks, Venmo, PayPal, Coinbase, etc.).
- Shipping Phishing Scams
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact supply chains for countless industries around the world. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are using problems like shipping delays to their advantage. Recently cybercriminals started using the possibility of a delayed or missed shipment as phish bait.
The scam starts with an email that appears to come from a reputable shipping company (FedEx, UPS, or USPS) or a trusted online store (Amazon, Etsy, Walmart). The email urges you to click on a link to download an important shipping confirmation document. If you click the link, you’ll be taken to a login webpage that asks for your email and password. Unfortunately, the email was actually sent by cybercriminals and the link leads to a well-designed phishing webpage. Any information that you enter on the webpage will be sent straight to the cybercriminals.
To stay safe from similar scams, remember the following tips:
- Watch out for a sense of urgency. These types of scams rely on impulsive actions, so always think before you click.
- Never click on a link or download an attachment in an email that you were not expecting.
- If you are expecting a shipment and receive a related email, confirm that the email is legitimate before clicking any links in the email. Look for details such as the order number, the purchase date, and the payment method.
If you suspect you have been duped by this type of phishing scams, go to IdentityTheft.gov. There you’ll see the specific steps to take based on the information that you lost. And be sure to contact your bank immediately.
Your security is our top priority.
- Data Privacy Week
Data Privacy Week is an annual campaign to spread awareness about data privacy and educate individuals on how to secure their personal information. This is also a great time to review how to manage and protect your valuable online data.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 79% of U.S. adults report being concerned about the way their data is being used by companies. As technology evolves and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to influence how consumers interact with businesses online, data collection practices are becoming increasingly unavoidable, making it imperative that companies be open and honest about how they collect, use and share consumers’ personal information and communicate their policies clearly and concisely.
The National Cybersecurity Alliance has offered up the following tips to help guide consumers to better data privacy practices, such as:
- Understand the privacy/convenience tradeoff: Many accounts ask for access to personal information, such as your geographic location, contacts list, and photo album, before you even use their services. This personal information has tremendous value to businesses and allows some to even offer you their services at little to no cost. Make informed decisions about whether or not to share your data with certain businesses by considering the amount of personal information they are asking for, and weighing it against the benefits you may receive in return. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and wary of apps or services that require access to information that is not required or relevant for the services they are offering. Delete unused apps on your internet-connected devices and keep others secure by performing updates.
- Manage your privacy: Once you have decided to use an app or set up a new account, check the privacy and security settings on web services and apps and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application or browser you use will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information.
- Protect your data: Data privacy and data security go hand in hand. Keep your data secure by creating long, unique passwords and storing them in a password manager. Add another layer of security by enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible, especially on accounts with sensitive information. MFA has been found to block 99.9% of automated attacks when enabled and can ensure your data is protected, even in the event of a data breach.
To learn more about protecting your data, visit staysafeonline.org.
- Watch Out for Omicron Variant Scams
Unfortunately, as Omicron quickly spreads across the region, so are the Omicron-themed phishing scams as cybercriminals look to cash in.
Cybercriminals have already started an email scam impersonating the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). They are exploiting the virus by sending out phishing emails about free COVID-19 tests that promises to detect the new variant. The email also falsely claims that existing COVID-19 tests cannot detect the new Omicron variant and offers a new COVID-19 Omicron PCR test from the NHS. Some of these emails also indicate that the recipient has been exposed to the virus and should act immediately.
Users who fall for these false claims will be taken to a copycat NHS site that asks for personal details and payment information that can then be used by the cybercriminals to steal you identity.
Here are a couple of tips to help you avoid similar phishing attacks:
- Although the scam is to impersonate the NHS, you may also see hackers from other countries using a similar scam. Watch out for suspicious emails from both local and global health organizations.
- Never click on a link within an email that you weren’t expecting, even if the email appears to come from an organization you recognize.
Stay informed about the Omicron variant by following trusted news sources. If you suspect you have been duped by one of these phishing scams, go to IdentityTheft.gov. There you’ll see the specific steps to take based on the information that you lost. And be sure to contact your bank immediately.
Your security is our top priority.
- What Is Smishing?
Fraudsters continue to adjust their strategies to fraud people out of money. In this fictitious example below, the scammer sends thousands of text messages to random people in Peoria hoping that the text message reaches at least one Better Banks customer. If the text message reaches a Better Banks customer and they respond back by answering ‘NO,’ the fraudster promptly calls the unsuspecting person and impersonates a Better Banks fraud specialist. Not only does the fraudster say they are from Better Banks, caller-ID also reports that the call is coming from Better Banks. They then ask for confidential information to confirm that the person is authorized on the account.
If you receive a text like this, here are a few things to consider:
- If a link is included in the text message, do NOT click on the link.
- Have you used your debit or credit card recently AND does the information on the text message match your recent purchase. If so, respond with ‘YES’ to confirm the purchase.
- If you haven’t used your card recently and you don’t recognize the transaction, respond with ‘NO.’
- If the text message is legitimate, the bank will respond with another text message that thanks you for confirming the activity.
- If the text message is NOT legitimate, the fraudster will call your cell phone and attempt to collect private information about you and your account. Hang up and call the bank immediately.
At any time, if you have concerns about the activity on your debit or credit card, please call the phone number printed on the back of your card or contact the Bank directly at 309.272.1000.
- How To Recognize Phishing
Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. Below are some helpful tips from the Federal Trade Commision to help you protect yourself.
Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $57 million to phishing schemes in one year.
Scammers often update their tactics, but there are some signs that will help you recognize a phishing email or text message.
Check the Email ID
When you receive an email from an unknown source, check the email domain. Be aware that phishing emails may appear to be coming from a company or person you trust.
Check for Links
Spam emails or texts often come with a link asking you to click it, usually to steal your data. Never click within an email or text coming from an unknown source or within an email or text containing any red flags.
Check Spelling and Grammar
One of the easiest ways to identify a phishing email or text is simply by the poor language used in the subject line and even in the body of the message. Read the message and check for spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Check Email Subject
Spammers will often try to panic you by including an urgent subject line. A missing subject line is also red flag.
Fraudulent emails often contain an attachment. Never click on attachments from unknown sources unless you’re confident that it’s from some authentic person. Often attachments contain malicious files that could harm your computer.
Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may:
- say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
- claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
- say you must confirm some personal information
- include a fake invoice
- want you to click on a link to make a payment
- say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
- offer a coupon for free stuff
Phishing emails can have real consequences for people who give scammers their information. And they can harm the reputation of the companies they’re spoofing.
What To Do if You Suspect a Phishing Attack
If you get an email or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, answer this question: Do I have an account with the company or know the person that contacted me?
If the answer is “No,” it could be a phishing scam. Go back and review the tips in How to recognize phishing and look for signs of a phishing scam. If you see them, report the message and then delete it.
If the answer is “Yes,” contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the email. Attachments and links can install harmful malware.
What To Do if You Responded to a Phishing Email
If you think a scammer has your information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, go to IdentityTheft.gov. There you’ll see the specific steps to take based on the information that you lost.
If you think you clicked on a link or opened an attachment that downloaded harmful software, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan.
How To Report Phishing
If you got a phishing email or text message, report it to the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov. The information you give can help fight the scammers.
How To Protect Yourself From Phishing Attacks
Your email spam filters may keep many phishing emails out of your inbox. But scammers are always trying to outsmart spam filters, so it’s a good idea to add extra layers of protection.
Four Steps To Protect Yourself From Phishing
1. Protect your computer by using security software. Set the software to update automatically so it can deal with any new security threats.
2. Protect your mobile phone by setting software to update automatically. These updates could give you critical protection against security threats.
3. Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication. Some accounts offer extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account. This is called multi-factor authentication. The additional credentials you need to log in to your account fall into two categories:
- Something you have — like a passcode you get via text message or an authentication app.
- Something you are — like a scan of your fingerprint, your retina, or your face.
Multi-factor authentication makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do get your username and password.
4. Protect your data by backing it up. Back up your data and make sure those backups aren’t connected to your home network. You can copy your computer files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. Back up the data on your phone, too.
- Protect Yourself from Cybercriminals!
Unfortunately during times of crisis, scams and criminal activity increase. It's important to be aware that some people will try to take advantage of COVID-19 by using fraudulent websites, phone calls, emails, and text messages claiming to offer help. However, they are actually trying to trick you into providing your Social Security number, bank account numbers, and other valuable details. Below are some examples of the various scams that are actively being used.
Avoid sites such as Coronavirus.com or Corona-virus-map.com. Since January, there have been thousands of websites registered containing the word 'corona' and many of those are suspicious and many of them distribute malware.
Watch for emails trying to grab your curiosity by using catchphrases to try and sell information or goods that are now in high demand, such as masks, hand sanitizers or vitamins.
Be on the lookout for phishing emails that may appear to come from a trusted source. Never click on unknown attachments or links or provide personal information via an unsecure website. The scammers have crafted emails that appear to come from legitimate sources, but they actually contain malicious phishing links or dangerous attachments. There are also emails that claim to have a "new" or "updated" list of cases of Coronavirus in your area. These emails contain dangerous links - don't click on them.
Use caution when making online donations. Go directly to a charity's website by independently confirming the address. Never click on a link in an e-mail or on a random website because it may lead to a fake site. Be especially cautious of emails and websites that ask for charity donations for studies, doctors, or victims that have been affected by the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Here are some general guidelines you should always follow to keep your personal and financial information safe:
- Never divulge your bank or credit card numbers or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the conversation with the other party and you know that it is a reputable organization.
- Be on guard if someone contacts you claiming to be government employees or volunteers and who ask for personal financial information or money.
- Reject offers to cash a check for someone in exchange for a fee, even if the bank makes the funds available to you right away, as it may later turn out that the check was fraudulent.
- Never click on links or open attachments from an email that you weren't expecting.
Stay safe, and alert Better Banks immediately if you have been a victim of any of these scams.
PLEASE NOTE: The safest location to find information regarding the coronavirus is the CDC's resource center.
- The Sweetheart Scam
One of the biggest scams, we have seen at the bank, are scammers taking advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. We have seen a rise in these social engineering type scams also known as catfishing. They start with a simple friend request, wink or swipe and usually end in heartbreak and lost money.
Scammers typically create fake online profiles designed to lure you in with a fictional name or steal the identity of a real person. They pose as military personnel, aid workers or professionals from the United States who are working abroad in countries such as Nigeria.
These romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time and may suggest you move the relationship to a private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging. They will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as showering you with loving words, sharing ‘personal information’ and even sending you gifts. They may take months to build this romance with you and even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come.
Once they have gained your trust and your defenses are down, they will ask you (either subtly or directly) for money, gifts or your bank account and credit card details. The scammer will pretend to need the money for some sort of personal emergency or to come visit you because they cannot afford the travel costs.
In some cases, you may be asked to cash a check they have sent you, keep a portion of the money for you and mail the rest to someone else. The check they sent then is returned as NSF, the check you sent has been cashed and you are out the money.
Sometimes the scammer will tell you about a large amount items they need to transfer out of the country they are in but they need your money to cover taxes or fees. After you send the money and they leave the country they are in they become detained in another country and ask you to pay their fines or fees. You may even be contacted by a “lawyer” claiming to need money for court costs and legal fees to release them. This will keep going and going without them ever arriving in the states to meet you.
In the end you could lose thousands of dollars all in the name of love. The money you send to scammers is almost always impossible to recover. Be cautious of anyone you meet online and look for these warning signs:
- You meet someone online and after just a few interactions they profess strong feelings for you.
- Their profile on the internet dating website or their Facebook page is not consistent with what they tell you. For example, their profile picture looks different to their description of themselves.
- Their messages are written poorly and they do not speak English well.
- After gaining your trust – often waiting weeks or months– they tell you an elaborate story and ask for money, gifts, your bank account or credit card information.
- If you don’t send money right away, their messages and calls become more desperate, persistent or direct. If you do send money, they continue to ask you to send more.
- They don’t keep their promises and always have an excuse for why they can't travel to meet you and why they always need more money.
If you think you have been scammed block the person on social media and report them to the website, app or social media site where the scammer first approached you. If you have provided your bank account or credit card details, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
- Mobile Deposit Scam
Banks are reporting customers are falling for a new form of fraud known as a money mule scam. People are recruited through Facebook or social media through what appear to be work-at-home jobs or other opportunities where they are lured as a money transfer agent (middle man). Victims of these scams are told they will receive deposits into their account with instructions on withdrawing the funds and forwarding money to a designated contact person. The victim is told they will receive a percentage of the proceeds as commission.
The victim is next instructed to provide their personal online/mobile banking usernames and passwords to the contact person. This allows the fraudster to log in to the accounts to access mobile deposit services to deposit their checks. The checks are then returned typically after the victim has already withdrawn the funds, leaving a negative balance and multiple fees. Most people who fall victim to this scam do not have the funds to cover their negative balance.
Better Banks as always, takes great precaution in preventing against schemes such as these but everyone should be aware that fraudsters come up with new schemes each and every day. If it does not feel right, odds are it isn’t! Please alert us to any such potential scams that you may feel are being perpetrated by contacting us as soon as possible at 309-272-1000 with as many details as possible. Stay alert, protect yourself and never give your online banking login information to someone!
- When Small Charges Can Signal a Big Crime
Most people looking at their bank statements would probably notice if their credit or debit card were used without their approval to purchase a big ticket item, and they would quickly call their bank or card issuer to report the error or fraudulent transaction. But consumers are less likely to be suspicious of very small charges, including those less than a dollar ... which is why criminals like to make them.
Small transactions can be signs that someone has learned your account information and is using it to commit a crime," said Michael Benardo, manager of the FDIC's Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section. "That’s why it’s important to be on the lookout for fraudulent transactions, no matter how small."
He added, "When thieves fraudulently obtain someone else’s credit or debit card information and create a counterfeit card, they might test it out with a small transaction — like buying a pack of gum or a soda — to make sure the counterfeit card works before using it to make a big purchase. If this test goes unnoticed by the true account holder, thieves will use the card to buy something expensive that they want or that they can easily sell for cash."
In one example, the Federal Trade Commission alleged that a group of individuals stole nearly $10 million by making charges to more than a million credit and debit cards that went unnoticed by most of cardholders because the transactions ranged from 20 cents to $10.
Even a small deposit in your checking or savings account that you weren’t expecting could be a sign that criminals have learned your account information and are trying to link your account to theirs so they can fraudulently withdraw money, perhaps your entire balance. Note: Be aware that if you ask to link your accounts at two different financial institutions, such as when setting up automatic transfers for investment or payment purposes, many banks and other payment providers may make test charges or deposits of less than $1 to verify that the proper arrangements have been made.
What can consumers to do protect themselves? Be on the lookout for small transactions you don’t think you’ve conducted or authorized. "The best way to catch this kind of fraud is to regularly and thoroughly review your bank and credit card statements to look for transactions that you didn’t initiate," Benardo said. "If you have online access to your bank and credit card accounts, it is a good idea to check them regularly, perhaps weekly, for suspicious activity."
Immediately contact your bank or credit card issuer if you see a transaction that you didn’t authorize and ask for it to be reversed. Debit card users in particular should promptly report an unauthorized transaction. While federal protections for credit cards cap losses from fraudulent charges at $50, a consumer’s liability limit for a debit card could be up to $500 or more if you don’t notify your bank within two business days after discovering the theft.
Also ask your bank or credit card issuer about additional precautions it could take to prevent fraud on your account. "For a period of time, it might monitor your account more closely for fraudulent transactions," Benardo said. "Or, it may determine that the best course of action is to close your current account and issue you a new card with a new account number."
Article Provided by FDIC, Consumer News. To learn more about how to keep your credit and debit cards safe from fraud, visit FDIC Consumer News.
- How Older Adults Can Steer Clear of Scam Artists
Anyone can be a victim of financial fraud, but older adults are particularly at risk. Among the reasons: Scam artists and thieves know that many senior citizens have accumulated money and other assets throughout the years. Those who commit elder fraud range from loved ones — family members, friends or caregivers — to complete strangers. Here are practical tips on how to protect yourself or someone else:
Remember the red flags of a fraud. Some of the classic warning signs include:
- An unsolicited phone call, e-mail or other request that you pay a large amount of money before receiving the goods or services;
- An unexpected e-mail or call requesting your bank account number, perhaps one asking you for the information printed at the bottom of one of your checks;
- An offer that seems too good to be true, like an investment “guaranteeing” a return that’s way above the competition;
- Someone expressing a new or unusual interest in your finances;
- Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer or
- The other party insists on secrecy.
Research a new financial advisor before investing money or paying for services. Though the vast majority of brokers, financial planners and other professionals are honest and reputable, some commit fraud. Before committing to working with a financial advisor, confirm that he or she is properly registered or licensed and has a clean record.
Be careful who you give the legal authority to access or manage your money. One way older adults prepare for the possible future need to have someone else make financial decisions and transact business for them is by having a legal document called a power of attorney (POA). An attorney can help you decide the right type of POA for your needs. “Only give POA authority to someone you trust and who understands your wishes and preferences,” suggested Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC’s Outreach and Program Development Section. “Also consider adding oversight, such as by requiring two people you trust to agree on decisions within a reasonable time frame or having a third party review transactions that have been made.”
If you decide to use a POA, contact your bank and other financial institutions to confirm they will accept the document you plan to use. They may have their own form and require that customers use that.
Protect your personal information. Never provide Social Security numbers, bank account information, PINs, passwords and other sensitive information in response to an unsolicited call, fax, letter, e-mail or text message, no matter how genuine the situation may appear.
Sign up for direct deposit. “Direct deposit into your bank account is the fastest and safest way to receive money or other payments, such as your pension or an income tax refund,” Reynolds said.
Noting a recent scam that has resulted in thefts of benefit payments, Reynolds added, “Check to make sure the full deposit you are entitled to arrives in your bank account when you expect it. An unexpected letter from the Social Security Administration or another agency indicating your direct deposit information has been changed is a sign of fraud, and you should independently look up that organization’s contact information and notify it immediately.”
Closely monitor credit card bills and bank statements. Look at your statements as soon as they arrive and report unauthorized purchases, withdrawals or anything suspicious, regardless of how small or large the dollar amount.
Immediately report a fraud or theft to someone you trust as well as the proper authorities. Many older people make the mistake of not telling loved ones or not contacting the police or other law enforcement agencies when they’ve been victimized. Perhaps some are embarrassed to admit that they were “misled” and lost money. Others have fears of losing their independence. “As difficult as this may be, reporting the incident is the only opportunity you have to recover some or all of your loss,” suggested Irma Matias, an FDIC Community Affairs Specialist. “By telling your story you also could prevent the perpetrators from taking advantage of others.”
Learn more about common frauds and how to respond to them visit FDIC Consumer News at www.fdic.gov/consumernews.
- Protecting Your Plastic from High-Tech Criminals
While many consumers still like to use paper money and coins, more and more people are pulling out credit or debit cards to make purchases. And, as the popularity of payment cards has grown, so has the number of criminals trying to steal very valuable details, including the cardholder’s name and the card’s account number and expiration date, which are printed on the card itself as well as encoded (for machine readability) in the magnetic stripe or a computer chip.
“No matter how your card information is stored, it is in high demand by criminals who would like to retrieve that data to create a counterfeit version of your card or use the information to make purchases online or over the phone,” said Michael Benardo, manager of the FDIC’s Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section.
If you’re ever the victim or target of credit or debit card theft or fraud, catching it fast and reporting it to your card issuer are key to resolving the situation. And while federal laws and industry practices protect consumers in these situations, there are important differences depending on the type of card.
In general, under the Truth in Lending Act, your cap for liability for unauthorized charges on a credit card is $50. But under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, if your debit card or ATM card is lost or stolen or you notice an unauthorized purchase or other transfer using your checking or savings account, your maximum liability is limited to $50 only if you notify your bank within two business days. If you wait more than two business days, your debit/ATM card losses under the law could go up to $500, or perhaps much more. With either card, though, industry practices may further limit your losses, so check with your card issuer.
What else can you do to keep thieves away from your cards…and your money?
Never give out your payment card numbers in response to an unsolicited e-mail, text message or phone call, no matter who the source supposedly is. An “urgent” e-mail or phone call appearing to be from a well-known organization is likely a scam attempting to trick you into divulging your card information. It’s called “phishing,” a high-tech variation of the concept of “fishing” for account information. If they get confidential details, the criminals can use the information to make counterfeit cards and run up charges on your accounts.
Take precautions at the checkout counter, ATM and gas pump. “Be on the lookout for credit and debit card reading devices that look suspicious, such as a plastic sleeve inside a card slot,” Benardo said. “Crooks are getting very good at attaching their own devices over legitimate card readers and gathering account information from the cards that consumers swipe through those readers.”
Also be alert when you hand your payment card to an employee at a restaurant or retail establishment. For example, if he or she swipes your card through two devices instead of one, that second device could be recording your account information to make a fraudulent card. Report that situation to a manager and your card issuer.
To help combat payment card fraud, many card issuers have turned to the technology known as radio frequency identification (RFID). This uses wireless radio signals to identify people or objects from a distance. It is also being used with items such as highway toll passes, subway fare cards and pay-at-the-pump cards to add convenience and speed up many routine transactions. While some news reports indicate that payment cards with RFID chips may be more vulnerable to fraud than traditional cards with magnetic stripes on the back, Benardo said that’s not the case.
“Today an RFID card is nearly impossible to breach because the chip in it creates an encrypted signal that is extremely difficult to hack or compromise,” he said. “If you have questions or concerns about a payment card that is RFID-enabled, ask your bank about the precautions it takes to safeguard your card information.”
Closely monitor your bank statements and credit card bills. “Look at your account statements as soon as they arrive in your mailbox or electronic inbox and report a discrepancy or anything suspicious, such as an unauthorized withdrawal,” advised FDIC attorney Richard M. Schwartz. “While federal and state laws limit your losses if you’re a victim of fraud or theft, your protections may be stronger the quicker you report the problem.” These days, it’s also easy to monitor your accounts using online banking or even your mobile phone.
Also, don’t assume that a small unauthorized transaction isn’t worth reporting to your bank. Some thieves are making low-dollar withdrawals or charges in hopes those will go unnoticed by the account holders. In one recent example, a federal court temporarily halted an operation that allegedly debited hundreds of thousands of consumers’ bank accounts and billed their credit cards for more than $25 million—in small charges— without their consent.
And, contact your institution if your bank statement or credit card bill doesn’t arrive when you normally expect it because that could be a sign that an identity thief has stolen your mail and/or account information to commit fraud in your name.
Periodically review your credit reports for warning signs of fraudulent activity. Credit reports, which are prepared by companies called credit bureaus (or consumer reporting agencies), summarize a consumer’s history of paying debts and other bills. But if a credit report shows a credit card, loan or lease you never signed up for, this could indicate you are a victim of ID theft.
You are entitled to at least one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nation’s three major credit bureaus. To maximize your protection against fraud, some experts suggest spreading out your requests throughout the year, such as by getting one free report every four months instead of all three at the same time. To request your free report, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.
Article provided by: FDIC Consumer News. Visit www.fdic.gov/consumernews for more information.
- Beware of Loan Scams
We have all heard the ads about stopping foreclosure or getting help with your mortgage payments but do we really know if these companies or their claims are legitimate? Fraudsters like to pray on people’s emotions and take advantage of someone in need. They will use phrases like “Stop foreclosure now!” or “We have special relationships with banks to speed up your approval process.” to get your attention then try to get your money. You can prevent fraud and scams simply by knowing about the different types of scams.
Phony Loan/Credit Counseling
The scam artists will claim they can work with your lender to reduce your mortgage payments or save your home from foreclosure for a small fee. The scam artist may pose as an attorney or a representative from a law firm. They may tell you not to contact your lender they will handle all the correspondence on you pay them their fee, and then stop returning your calls. Or they may insist you make your mortgage payment to them and after a few months of payments they are unreachable.
Fraudsters offer a service to have an auditor or attorney review your loan documents to detect if your lender complied with the law in exchange for a fee. They claim you can use their audit report to avoid foreclosure, help the loan modification process, reduce how much you owe, or even cancel your loan.
In this scam you are deceived into signing over the deed to your home to a scam artist that says you will be able to remain in the house as a renter and eventually buy it back. Usually, the terms of this scheme are so demanding that the buy-back becomes impossible or the rent significantly increases, you are evicted and the “rescuer” walks off with most or all of the equity from your home plus any rent you paid.
Scam artists offer to help and claim you need to sign paperwork to bring your mortgage current, but hidden in the stack of papers is a document that surrenders the title of your house to the scammers in exchange for a "rescue" loan.
If you're looking for a loan modification or other help to save your home, avoid any business that:
- Guarantees to get you a loan modification or stop the foreclosure process – no matter what your circumstances.
- Tells you not to contact your lender or lawyer.
- Claims that all or most of its customers get loan modifications or mortgage relief.
- Asks for an upfront fee before providing you with any services.
- Accepts payment only by cashier's check or wire transfer.
- Encourages you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time.
- Tells you to make your mortgage payments directly to them, rather than your lender.
- Tells you to transfer your property deed or title to them.
- Offers to buy your house for cash for much lower than the selling price of similar houses in your neighborhood.
- Pressures you to sign papers you haven't had a chance to read thoroughly or that you don't understand.
If you're having trouble paying your mortgage or have gotten a foreclosure notice, contact your lender immediately.
- Strong Passwords Are Your First Line of Protection in a Cyber Attack
It seems like every few weeks we hear of another data breach occurrence. In fact, in the first half of 2019 data breaches resulting in exposed records is up by 54% over 2018, according to USA Today. More than 3,800 data breaches were reported in the first six months of this year, and just eight of those exposed more than 3.2 billion records, nearly 80% of all records exposed so far in 2019.
As a bank we are continually working to make sure we have the technology in place to keep your data safe. After an unprecedented number of data breaches the past few years, one thing remains clear: People need stronger passwords. The top two most popular passwords – “123456” and “password.”
How to Create Strong Passwords and Protect Your Accounts
The most important takeaway with data breaches is that it’s important that you take every step possible to protect yourself. And your first step should be to create strong passwords. Below are the basic steps to follow when creating new passwords.
1. Make your passwords complex.
a. Don’t use easy to guess passwords such as ‘password’, ‘123456’, any portion of your name or your friends’ and family members’ names.
b. Do not use words in the dictionary or your username or a combination of adjacent keys on the keyboard such as qwert1.
c. Use a mix of characters, including upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
2. Easy to remember passwords are not passwords at all but passphrases. Experts suggest creating passphrases of at least 12 characters. Complexity is nice but length is vital. For example, use a phrase from a favorite song, book or TV show and mix in upper/lower case with numbers and symbols. (i.e. Wr1teASymph0ny!)
3. Be random. Avoid using easily obtained information like your birthday, Social Security number or phone number. As a general rule, the easier a password is to remember, the easier it is to crack.
4. Don’t use the same password for multiple sites. If a hacker gets one password, he or she will be able to access multiple accounts.
- Card Data Breaches
Fraud comes in many forms. A card data breach is one form that can have a large impact on consumers, banks and credit card companies. Card data breaches occur when credit or debit card information is stolen by cyber thieves who have accessed card payment information without authorization. The purpose of stealing credit and debit card information is to use the card numbers to make unauthorized purchases.
If you’re ever the victim or target of credit or debit card theft or fraud, catching it fast and reporting it to your bank or card issuer is key to resolving the situation.
Closely monitor your accounts daily or weekly with online banking. Review your monthly bank statements and credit card bills. Look for any unauthorized transactions, large and small. It’s easy to spot large unauthorized transactions but oftentimes small transactions can be signs of fraud. It’s important to be on the lookout and report unauthorized transactions immediately, no matter how small.
Periodically review your credit reports for warning signs of fraudulent activity. You are entitled to at least one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nation’s three major credit bureaus. To maximize your protection against fraud, some experts recommend getting one free report every four months instead of all three at the same time. To request your free report, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.
Pay attention to notices from retailers, credit card companies or your bank about a security breach. In the event of a large-scale breach, you may receive notice that your credit/debit card is being replaced with one that has a new card number.
Be on guard against scams offering "help" after a data breach. Be very careful about responding to an unsolicited e-mail promoting credit monitoring services. Many of these offers are fraudulent. If you're interested in credit monitoring and it's not being offered for free by your retailer or bank, do your own independent research to find a reputable service.
Staying vigilant and proactive can help protect your money!
- Card Skimming
Thieves are always looking for new ways to steal your information and although Card Skimming is not a new practice it is on the rise. Card skimming is the illegal collection of personal and account information from the magnetic strip on a debit or credit card.
How does skimming happen?
The most common method for card skimming is to add a “skimmer” over the top of a card reader slot on an ATM or at a gas pump. The skimmer typically looks identical to the card reader making it hard to identify. The skimmer will record and store debit/credit card information, the thieves will then use the information recorded to create counterfeit cards.
How to detect a skimmer?
Before inserting your card into an ATM or at the gas pump, check the card reader. Look at the machine for sign of tampering, touch the card reader and move it around to see if it comes loose or off. If the machine appears to have a skimmer, do not use it and report it to the business and local police immediately.
Ways to monitor and detect fraud?
It is very important to monitor your accounts regularly for unauthorized transactions and immediately report any potential fraud. Sign up for debit card alerts through Brella, as well as online and mobile banking.