Schemes, Scams & Frauds
In the last decade cyber-frauds have arisen using increasingly sophisticated technologies…all aimed at
separating you from your money. Here is a review of today’s most prevalent frauds, with some advice for
keeping your private information secure.
VISHING is a live phone call or voice message from a person claiming to be your bank or credit card company, stating that your account has been compromised or frozen. Scammers will attempt to trick you into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The callers are seemingly helpful and friendly, and may even have some data that does match your own – like an address.
PROTECT YOURSELF: Be suspicious of 800-number callers. Do not reveal any financial data including PIN numbers, last 4 digits of debit cards, account numbers, or recent transactions. Do not return voicemails of this nature.
PHISHING is the criminal attempt to steal your personal information through fraudulent emails or smart-phone texts. They are often very believable, luring the victim to a site that asks them to provide (or “verify”) personal financial details such as account numbers and social security numbers. A variation is called Spear Phishing, which are electronic messages that appear to come especially to victims from their employer, usually a large corporation.
PROTECT YOURSELF: Your financial institution will not send emails asking for your personal information—they already have it.
SMART PHONE TEXTING FRAUDS Cyber-security experts often call the text and mobile phone version of phishing Smishing, playing off the SMS, or Short message Service, terminology used in text messaging. Smart phone users are being increasingly targeted because these users almost always have their phone handy and tend to respond to texts and emails quickly. They may not realize the message is fake until too late. In addition, fake web sites can be harder to spot on a small screen.
PROTECT YOURSELF: Be careful responding to “urgent” text messages, especially one from your financial institution...call and ask before responding. In all cases with text scams, use the same precautions as you would for a potential phishing scam.
SPYWARE is the term used for criminal software that a victim unknowingly loads on a personal computer. Once there, the spyware collects personal information and sends it to the criminal.
PROTECT YOURSELF: Up-to-date security software is the best defense.
Internet Crime Complaint Center: www.ic3.gov
Consumer Fraud (Department of Justice Homepage): www.usdoj.gov
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Response Center: www.ftc.gov
Consumer Guides and Protection: www.usa.gov
Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force: www.stopfraud.gov
On Guard Online: www.onguardonline.gov