Identity theft occurs when someone finds a way to steal your personal or other identifying information to open new accounts; establish credit or borrow money in your name; make purchases; or pursue other fraudulent activities. Therefore, if you become a victim of identity theft, you face possible losses of money and/or damage to your credit ratings.
Identity theft can occur in a variety of ways. The perpetrators of this criminal activity may seek sensitive information via the telephone, internet/e-mail, or the U.S. Mail. Less sophisticated, but no less effective, are those criminals who look for financial documents in a mailbox or in the trash.
Internet and E-mail Fraud
Thousands of consumers each year become victims of internet fraud. We believe that it is important for us to work together to fight this growing problem. There are a number of methods used to steal personal information using the internet. Some of the more prevalent schemes are:
“Phishing” is conducted by criminals who send spam e-mail messages or pop-up windows on Web browsers that request personal information from consumers. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that may be used for identity theft or to access bank accounts or credit cards. Many times the messages look like official correspondence from a company the victim recognizes and does business with.
Some messages ask victims to update, confirm or validate their account information. In some cases, an e-mail may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies. These e-mail messages often warn of a serious problem that requires the target’s immediate attention.
Internet phishing scams may involve both e-mail spoofing and website spoofing. E-mail spoofing is fraudulent e-mail activity in which the sender address and other parts of the e-mail header are altered to appear as though the e-mail originated from a different source in order to hide the origin of the message.
In a spoofing scam, a phishing e-mail will encourage the consumer to click on a button to go to a company’s Web site. This button or link may be directed to a phony Web site that may look exactly like the company’s site (website spoofing).
Sometimes however, the link may lead to the company’s actual Web site. In those cases, a pop-up window will appear to gather personal information.
Spyware is a hidden program that is installed on a computer without the consent of the owner to secretly gather personal data. The information can then be used by advertisers or hackers. Spyware or key-logging software can monitor keystrokes, passwords, credit card numbers, websites visited, and more.
Tips To Help Prevent Internet Fraud
- Do not respond to suspicious e-mails. NEITHER CAROLINA ALLIANCE BANK NOR ANY OTHER LEGITIMATE FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDER WILL EVER ASK YOU TO VERIFY OR UPDATE ANY INFORMATION THROUGH AN E-MAIL. If you get such an e-mail, it’s a scam.
- Guard user names and passwords. Create names and passwords that are difficult to guess and use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Never share user names and passwords and change passwords often. When using public computers, make sure no one is watching while you are entering login information. Never write down a user name or password. Do not allow a computer to “remember” a user name or password and log out of the website when finished with your online business if someone else has access to the computer.
- Use a firewall. A firewall is a protective layer of software/hardware between your computer and the rest of the internet. Most current operating systems have built-in firewalls or you may purchase separate firewall software.
- Keep your system up-to-date. The newer operating systems and web-browsers contain the most up-to-date security features. Also, you should install updates to your operating system timely. Software manufacturers are continually updating software to counter system vulnerabilities.
- Use up-to-date virus protection and anti-spyware software. Apply the vendors’ updates timely and scan your computer periodically for virus-infected files and spyware.
- Be cautious with unsecured wireless networks. Having an unsecured wireless network in your home or business increases your risk of intrusion into your computer(s) that may be connected to the network. Also, using unsecured networks in wireless “hot spots” exposes your computer to intrusion if the firewall or other system settings are not properly configured.
- Use secure sites when conducting business online. Banking and the order entry section of shopping sites should be secure. Look for an “s” following the “http” portion of the internet address (https://) in your navigation bar. Also, look for an image of a padlock or key somewhere on your internet browser (the location of the image may vary based on the browser being used.)
Tips To Help Prevent Identity Theft
- Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone unless you initiated the contact. When you call us, come to our office or use one of our online banking products, we may ask for identifying information. We will never call you or send you an e-mail asking you to give us personal or private information.
- Keep in mind the type of information that fraudsters desire and this will help you detect fraudulent intent. The information these criminals desire the most are your:
- Name, address and phone number
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license number
- Credit card information (number, expiration date or security code)
- Bank account information
- Mother’s maiden name
- Place of birth
- Be alert when using your credit, debit or ATM cards. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid using a PIN number in view of others. Keep an eye on your debit or credit card until the merchant completes your transaction, and make sure you get your card back.
- Do not carry your Social Security card, bank account numbers, PINs, passport or birth certificate in a wallet or purse. These items can supply a thief with enough personal information to steal your identity if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.
- Sign debit and credit cards immediately after they arrive.
- Track credit, debit and ATM receipts and never throw them in public trash receptacles.
- Report lost or stolen checks or ATM, debit and credit cards immediately. Review new checks to make sure none were stolen in transit. Be aware of the expiration date on your debit or credit card; if you do not receive a reissued card before the expiration date, notify customer service.
- Monitoring your bank accounts for unauthorized transactions will help to detect and stop fraud. Carolina Alliance Bank online banking products make it easy to review your transactions daily.
- Pay attention to your billing and account statement cycles. If regular bills or statements stop reaching you, call the company’s customer service number.
- Guard your mail from theft. Consider depositing outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox or call the post office to request a vacation hold if you will be away from home.
- Be alert for e-mail hoaxes and suspicious phone inquiries. These may appear to come from a trusted business or friend, but actually are designed to trick you into providing sensitive information; cause you to download a virus or redirect you to a fraudulent website.
- Do not provide your driver’s license number or Social Security number on your checks. Only provide this information when necessary.
- Cancel credit cards you do not need or use.
- Shred or otherwise destroy credit card applications, receipts and any financial documents before throwing them away.
- Periodically check your credit report. You may request a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
When fraud is suspected:
- Contact us immediately
Immediately contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289