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Money IQ – Consumer Education 

Fraud – How to Help Protect Yourself

Fraud is a term that has become part of our everyday vocabulary. You probably hear variations of fraud ranging from identity theft, online fraud, such as phishing and pharming, to offline fraud, including credit card, phone solicitations, print fraud, check scams, and mail fraud. You can help protect your personal information and accounts by using caution when providing confidential information. Also, by keeping yourself updated on the latest fraud alerts, you can help prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

Identity theft is fraud committed or attempted using the identifying information of another person without authority. Identity theft is the unlawful act of capturing, transferring, and/or using one or more pieces of another person’s personal identifying information (including, but not limited to, name, address, driver’s license, date of birth, Social Security number, account information, account login credentials, government passport number, employer or taxpayer identification number, or family identifiers) and using or attempting to use that information to establish or take over a credit, deposit, or other financial account (“account”) in that person’s name.

Identity theft falls into one of two categories:

  • True name fraud – Establishing (or attempting to establish) an account(s) using another person’s identity.
  • Account takeover – Establishing (or attempting to establish) control of an existing account(s) without authority of the account holder. Account takeover does not include solely the posting of unauthorized transactions against an existing account, such as forged-maker signature, counterfeit, and credit card misuse.

Online Fraud

  • Phishing – Phishers use fraudulent emails or pop-up Web pages that appear legitimate and are designed to deceive you into sharing personal or account information.
  • Pharming – Pharming occurs when you type in a Web address and it redirects you to a fraudulent Web site without your knowledge or consent. The Web site will try to look similar to the legitimate site in hopes of capturing your confidential information.
  • Vishing – Vishing occurs when an email is sent asking you to call a fake phone number. The number is set up to sound like a legitimate financial institution’s phone system, prompting you to type in your 16 digit credit card number and expiration date to verify your information. Once you do that, however, you have just given the scammers all they need to have access to your account.

Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud can occur when someone takes your card and uses it without your consent. It can also happen when the card sits safely in your wallet.

Phone Solicitations
Scammers will attempt to randomly call people with hopes of luring them with cash gifts or prizes in exchange for personal account information.

Print Fraud
Scammers will use local and community newspapers to publish fake advertisements with special rates and offers. If clients call, they are asked for their personal information and for an advance payment before the transaction can be completed.

Check Scams
Scammers will overpay for an item purchased and ask the difference to be wired back. Most times the check was counterfeit or forged for a higher amount.

Mail Fraud
Mail fraud occurs when scammers illegally intercept your mail or when you receive unrealistic offers.

By keeping on top of your transactions, you can spot any suspicious activity. With online banking you can view your transactions 24/7.

Tips on how to help identify fraud:

  • Monitor your bank statements monthly.
  • Review your credit report at least once year.

You are your own best protection against fraud. By staying informed, you can help protect your identity and accounts.

Phone Solicitations
Be wary of telephone scammers. If you receive a call from someone asking for personal and account information, call the company back using a phone number you know is legitimate.

Scammers use fraudulent contact information such as mailing addresses, phone and fax numbers and claim to be “third-party consultants.” When unsuspecting consumers contact the scammers, the callers are asked to provide their personal and account information. Scammers then tell applicants that their loans have been approved but that they first need to make an advance payment or deposit before the loans can be advanced by wire transfer.

Check Scams
Scammers may deceive clients into responding to an illegitimate online or newspaper advertisement or may victimize clients by paying for goods with a stolen or counterfeit check for more than the agreed upon amount. The clients are then asked to return the overpayment either by a wire transfer or an official check.

Mail Fraud
Scammers may steal or tamper with your mail. Be sure to pick up the mail daily. Drop your mail in an official postal mailbox.[/spoiler]

Help Protect Yourself from Fraud Show
Commercial Banking Customers Show


If You Believe You May Be a Victim of Identity Theft, You Should:

  • Report the theft to each of these credit reporting agencies: Experian (888) 397-3742; Equifax (800) 525-6285; and TransUnion (800) 680-7289.
  • File a police report in your local jurisdiction and retain the report number and name of the officer with whom you filed the report.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Hotline at 877-IDTHEFT to file a complaint or go to