Welcome to QNB’s Fraud Education Center. This section of our website is dedicated to the ongoing education of our customers on important cyber security and fraud prevention tips.
- Beware of IRS Tax Scams
- Equifax isn't Calling
- Equifax Breach FAQs
- Loan Closing Fraud Scheme
- 10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers
- Can You Hear Me Scam
- Be Alert to Card Skimming
- New Check Card Fraud Prevention Service
- 14 Red Flags for Elder Financial Abuse
- How to Stop Elder Financial Abuse Before it Starts
- Spend or Save: 5 Ways to Make Your Refund Count this Tax Season
- 12 Tips for Protecting Your Mobile Devices
- Scam Calls and Emails Using IRS as Bait Persist
- Heartbleed Bug FAQs
- 5 Tips to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi
- OnGuard Online Web Site Provides Valuable Online Security Info
- Social Engineering - Phishing, Vishing and Smishing!!!
- FBI Fraud Alert - Don't Get Scammed!
- Identity Theft -- What Is It and What to Do
- Protect Yourself and Your Computer
- Government Agency Links
- Visit the Business Fraud Education Center
Beware of IRS Tax Scams
Information from the IRS website:
The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam. The IRS urges taxpayers to watch out for erroneous refunds; beware of fake calls to return money to a collection agency.
Identity thieves who specialize in tax refund fraud have been busy of late hacking online accounts at multiple tax preparation firms, using them to file phony refund requests. Once the Internal Revenue Service processes the return and deposits money into bank accounts of the hacked firms' clients, the crooks contact those clients posing as a collection agency and demand that the money be "returned". They'll call taxpayers who've had fraudulent tax refunds deposited into their bank accounts, claim the refund was deposited in error, and threaten recipients with criminal charges if they fail to forward the money to the collection agency.
If you believe that you are involved in an IRS scam or are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends these steps:
- File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
- Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 800-525-6285
- Experian, www.Experian.com, 888-397-3742
- TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 800-680-7289
- Contact your financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
Equifax isn't Calling
Ring, ring. "This is Equifax calling to verify your account information." Stop. Don’t tell them anything. They’re not from Equifax. It’s a scam. Equifax will not call you out of the blue.
Equifax Breach FAQs
I’ve been hearing about the Equifax breach in the news. What happened?
Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, experienced a massive data breach. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.
Was my information stolen?
If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance it was. Go to a special website set up by Equifax to find out: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Potential Impact,” enter some personal information and the site will tell you if you’ve been affected. Be sure you’re on a secure network (not public wi-fi) when you submit sensitive data over the internet.
How can I protect myself?
- Enroll in Equifax’s services.
Equifax is offering one year of free credit monitoring and other services, whether or not your information was exposed. You can sign up at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/.
- Monitor your credit reports.
In addition, you can order a free copy of your credit report from all three of the credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to one free report from each of the credit bureaus once per year.
- Monitor your bank accounts.
We also encourage you to monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Use online and mobile banking to keep a close eye on your accounts.
- Watch out for scams related to the breach.
Do not trust e-mails that appear to come from Equifax regarding the breach. Attackers are likely to take advantage of the situation and craft sophisticated phishing e-mails.
Should I place a credit freeze on my files?
Before deciding to place a credit freeze on your accounts, consider your personal situation. If you might be applying for credit soon or think you might need quick credit in an emergency, it might be better to simply place a fraud alert on your files with the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report which requires businesses to take additional steps, such as contacting you by phone before opening a new account.
How do I contact the three major credit bureaus to place a freeze on my files?
Equifax: Call 800-349-9960 or visit its website.
Experian: Call 888-397-3742 or visit its website.
TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or visit its website.
Where can I get more information about the Equifax breach?
You can learn more directly from Equifax at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. You can also learn more by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s web page on the breach at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do. To learn more about how to protect yourself after a breach, visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/Info-Lost-or-Stolen.
Loan Closing Fraud Scheme
The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors® are warning home buyers about an email and money wiring scam. Hackers have been gaining access into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ or settlement agent’s email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions.
After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as either the settlement agent or the lender. The bogus email notes that checks (Cashier’s or otherwise) are no longer allowed to be brought to the closing table to facilitate the closing (a wire is required and instructions provided) or that there has been a last-minute change to the wiring instructions previously provided, and tells the buyer to wire the closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account and the money is lost.
10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers
Be sure to check out this FDIC Consumer News article on how to protect your personal information and your money:
Can You Hear Me Scam
"Can you hear me?" Police in several states are urging people to avoid answering this simple question from a phone number they do not know.
Authorities say the question is aimed at getting unsuspecting victims to say "yes" -- an answer the fraudster then records as a way to authorize charges on a phone, utility or credit card bill. The scam is a variation of one that began late last year, according to law enforcement.
"You say 'yes,' it gets recorded and they say that you have agreed to something," Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy for the Consumer Federation of America, "I know that people think it's impolite to hang up, but it's a good strategy."
Be Alert to Card Skimming
This type of fraud occurs when thieves target ATMs or point-of-sale terminals that read debit and credit cards with devices that capture the magnetic strip and keypad information. Typically this involves two devices: a card reader inserted in or over the existing one and a camera that captures the key strokes on the machines keypad.
You can protect yourself from card skimming scams by following these three easy steps:
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When using any ATM or point of sale terminal pay close attention to the card swipe and keyboard. If any parts look loose, discolored or misaligned be suspicious and do not use the machine. Also, if the keypad seems unresponsive it could be an indication of an overlay device designed to capture your keystrokes.
Protect Your Pin
The most common method for stealing your PIN is a well concealed camera located around the machine. When entering your PIN, always stand as close as possible to the machine and cover your hand to make it more difficult to capture the information you are entering on the keypad. Also, never give your PIN number to anyone who does not share your account – not even family members.
Check Your Statements
Pay close attention to your monthly statements and be on the look-out for any unauthorized transactions. If you find anything suspicious on your statement report it immediately to the bank.
New Check Card Fraud Prevention Service
QNB Bank is continually working to keep your accounts secure. Now we’ve improved our alert system for potential check card fraud. Here’s how it works:
- When potential fraud is detected on your QNB Check Card, you will receive an automatic email notification with the option to respond. You may respond that the charge is fraud or is not fraud.
- One minute after the email, you will receive a text alert, which also has the option to respond and confirm fraud or not fraud.
- If no response is received, you will receive automatic phone calls to confirm or deny fraud. If fraud is confirmed or if there is a failure to authenticate your identity, you will be connected to a fraud analyst.
Remember – our messages will never ask for your PIN or account number. If you are asked for your PIN or account number, please call our Fraud Center.
The phone number for our Fraud Center has changed to 1-800-417-4592. If you add this number to your phone contacts and label it “Fraud Center,” it will display on your phone whenever you get a call from this number.
If you also add the shortcode 32874 and label it “Fraud Center”, it will display on your phone whenever you get a text from the Fraud Center.
Q: What must I do to enroll or register for this fraud prevention service?
A: All transactions on your QNB Check Card will automatically be monitored 24/7 to identify potential fraud. All we need from you is a current phone number on file. To make sure we have your current phone number on file or to update your phone number, please call our Customer Service Center at 215-538-5605.
Q: What is the fee for this service?
A: There is no fee.
Q: How will I be contacted if potential fraud is detected?
A: Our Fraud Center will first send you an email notification. You will then receive a text alert. Both the email notifications and text alerts are provided 24/7. Lastly, our Fraud Center will attempt to call you between the hours of 7:00am and 9:00pm Eastern Time to confirm the suspected fraudulent transaction. If we are unable to reach you, we will leave a message with a call back number along with an incident number for you to reference.
Q: What number will you call?
A: We will call the phone numbers we have on file for you. For this reason, it is important that you keep these numbers up to date, especially your cell phone number in case we need to reach you while you’re on the move. To make sure we have your current phone number on file or to update your phone number, please call our Customer Service Center at 215-538-5605.
Q: How will I know whether or not the call is legitimate?
A: Our Fraud Center will never ask you to give your full card number, PIN, or account number. Never give out your full information, no matter how legitimate the request may sound. If you are asked for any of this personal information, please call our Fraud Center at 1-800-417-4592.
Q: What happens to my card if you are unable to reach me?
A: While we do not wish to cause you any inconvenience, our primary objective is to protect the security of your account. Therefore, if we are unable to verify the suspicious activity on your account, the transactions will be rejected and your card will be temporarily blocked from future transactions. Consequently, we encourage you to always carry another form of payment.
Q: What should I do if I plan on traveling?
A: If you are planning a trip, please contact QNB Customer Service at 215-538-5605 and let us know what states or countries you will be visiting. This will allow us to place an alert on your card, preventing transactions in these specified travel areas from being identified as suspicious activity.
Q: Is my QNB Credit Card monitored?
A: Your QNB Credit Card is monitored by a different program.
14 Red Flags for Elder Financial Abuse
Elder financial abuse is a growing problem. Click here to learn about the 14 red flags to help spot this issue. (PDF)
How to Stop Elder Financial Abuse Before it Starts
ABA Foundation Commemorates World Elder Abuse Awareness Day with Financial Tips
WASHINGTON — In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the American Bankers Association’s Foundation is working to combat financial abuse of older Americans. A recent study (PDF) estimated older adults lose $2.9 billion each year to fraud.
“Americans 50 years and older control more than 70 percent of our nation’s wealth, making them prime targets for exploitation,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “One of the first steps toward prevention is to have conversations with the important people in your life, including your banker, about how you can work together to safeguard your money and personal information.”
To help older Americans and their caregivers protect themselves or their loved ones from financial abuse, the ABA Foundation is offering the following tips:
- Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed. Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.
- Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters. Select someone who has your best interest at heart.
- Never give personal information, including your Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
- Stay alert to common fraud schemes. Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
- Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
- Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances and make sure to lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
- Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.
- You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you believe you are a victim of elder financial abuse, contact your local Adult Protective Services, tell someone at your bank or call your local police for help.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.
Spend or Save: 5 Ways to Make Your Refund Count this Tax Season
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the nation’s taxpayers received an average tax refund of nearly $3,000 in 2015. This year, while more than 70 percent of tax payers await their hefty refund, QNB Bank is highlighting five tips to help make the most out of this year’s windfall.
Tax season is a great time for consumers to reassess how they allocate extra cash. It’s wise to take steps toward securing your financial well-being like storing your refund for rainy days or using it to get a jumpstart on saving for retirement.
To help consumers make the most out of their money, QNB Bank has highlighted the following tips:
- Save for emergencies. Open or add to a high-yield savings account that serves as an “emergency fund.” Ideally, it should hold about three-to-six months of living expenses in case of sudden financial hardships like losing your job or having to replace your car.
- Pay off debt. Pay down existing balances either by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
- Save for retirement. Open or increase contributions to a tax-deferred savings plan like a 401(k) or an IRA. Where can you get one? Your bank can help set up an IRA, while a 401(k) is employer-sponsored.
- Put it toward a down payment. The biggest challenge that most first-time home buyers face is coming up with enough money for a down payment. If you intend to buy a new home in the near future, putting your tax refund toward the down payment is a smart move.
- Invest in your current home. Use your refund to invest in home improvements that will pay you back in the long run by increasing the value of your home. This can include small, cost-effective upgrades like energy-efficient appliances that will pay off in both the short and long term. If you have more substantial renovations in mind, your bank can help with a home equity line of credit.
12 Tips for Protecting Your Mobile Devices
March 6-12 is National Consumer Protection Week
As consumer use of mobile devices continues to climb; cyber criminals are targeting those gadgets more frequently. According to a report by the Federal Reserve, 52 percent of smartphone users say they have used mobile banking in the past 12 months. In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week March 6 - 12, QNB Bank is highlighting 12 ways consumers can take extra precaution to protect the data on their mobile device.
QNB Bank utilizes safeguards to protect customer information, but it’s also important for users to keep safety measures in place on their end to prevent sensitive data from being compromised. It’s easy to forget that your mobile device can be vulnerable, but any device used to connect to the Internet is at risk.
QNB Bank suggests following these 12 steps to protect your mobile device:
- Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
- Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
- Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
- Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
- Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
- Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
- Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
- Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
- Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
- Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
- Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren't very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
Scam Calls and Emails Using IRS as Bait Persist
Scams using the IRS as a lure continue. They take many different forms. The most common scams are phone calls and emails from thieves who pretend to be from the IRS. They use the IRS name, logo or a fake website to try to steal your money. They may try to steal your identity too.
Be wary if you get an out-of-the-blue phone call or automated message from someone who claims to be from the IRS. Sometimes they say you owe money and must pay right away. Other times they say you are owed a refund and ask for your bank account information over the phone. Don’t fall for it. Here are several tips that will help you avoid becoming a scam victim.
The real IRS will NOT:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand tax payment and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For example, demand that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other agencies to arrest you without paying.
- Threaten you with a lawsuit.
Heartbleed Bug – Open SSL Vulnerability FAQ’s
Although QNB-Online is not affected by the Heartbleed bug, we thought our customers might be interested in the following FAQs.
What is the “Heartbleed” bug?
The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This vulnerability could be exploited to steal the information normally protected by OpenSSL, which could include user id, password and “keys” that identify and verify that you are transacting with the correct online service provider. The bug only affects a certain version of OpenSSL, so not all websites are vulnerable.
For more technical information on this topic please see: http://heartbleed.com/
How do I know if a site uses OpenSSL?
Many websites you go to, you’ll see a padlock icon in the address bar of the browser, and a website address beginning with "https". This indicates that OpenSSL may be used by that provider. Again, the bug only affects a certain version of OpenSSL, so not all websites are vulnerable. Please check with the company that owns the website.
Is QNB-Online affected by the Heartbleed bug?
No, QNB-Online is not affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability. QNB-Online does not use the affected version of OpenSSL, nor have we ever used the affected version in the past.
Is my bank account information safe?
Yes, bank’s use many different systems to protect customers’ information including rigorous security standards, encryption, and fraud detection software. Banks are also monitoring your accounts; consumers are protected from unauthorized transactions. If you see any unusual activity in your QNB accounts, please contact us immediately at 1-800-491-9070.
Do I have to change my password?
At this time, QNB won’t require you to change your password since our online banking site was not affected by this security flaw. Generally, you should use a unique user id and password for each online banking or other financial transaction websites. If you have been using the same user id or password at QNB-Online and other websites, we strongly advise you to change your online banking information to something unique to only your online banking services.
5 Tips to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi
Check out this great article by Kim Komando that appeared in USA Today. These are great tips to follow to protect yourself while accessing public Wi-Fi.
Read the article 5 Tips to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi.
OnGuard Online Web Site Provides Valuable Online Security Info
OnGuardOnline.gov is the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online.
The Federal Trade Commission manages OnGuardOnline.gov, in partnership with the federal agencies listed below. OnGuardOnline.gov is a partner in the Stop Think Connect campaign, led by the Department of Homeland Security, and part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Click the following link to access OnGuard Online: OnGuardOnline.gov.
Social Engineering - Phishing, Vishing and Smishing!!!
Social Engineering is the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. The term typically applies to trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access; in most cases the attacker never comes face-to-face with the victim.
Types of Social Engineering
“Phishing” is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication or email.
- A criminal will send email messages to a list of email addresses stolen from a financial institution.
- The email messages alert the consumer that their credit card has had fraudulent activity or that their bank account has had unusual activity.
- The email message instructs the victims to call a phone number or click on a link to visit a website where their personal information is requested.
- Once the victim calls the phone number in the text message or visits the website and provides the information requested, the “Phisher” has the information necessary to make fraudulent use of the card or access the account.
“Vishing”is a combination of Voice and phISHING. Vishing is the criminal practice of using social engineering over the public telephone system.
- A criminal will call a list of phone numbers stolen from a financial institution.
- When the victim answers the phone, an automated message is played to alert the consumer that their credit card has had fraudulent activity or that their bank account has had unusual activity.
- The automated message instructs the victim to “call the following phone number immediately”. The same phone number is often shown in the spoofed caller ID and given the same name as the financial company they are pretending to represent.
- When the victim calls the number provided, it is answered by automated instructions to enter their credit card number or bank account number on the key pad.
- Once the victim enters their credit card number or bank account number, the “Visher” has the information necessary to make fraudulent use of the card or to access the account.
“Smishing”is a combination of SMS and phISHING. SMS (Short Message Service) is the technological protocol used for sending and receiving text messages on cell phones. Smishing is the criminal practice of using social engineering over the cellular phone system.
- A criminal will send text messages to a list of cellular phone numbers stolen from a financial institution.
- The text messages alert the consumer that their credit card has had fraudulent activity or that their bank account has had unusual activity.
- The text message instructs the victims to call a phone number or visit a website where their personal information is requested.
- Once the victim calls the phone number in the text message or visits the website and provides the information requested, the “Smisher” has the information necessary to make fraudulent use of the card or access the account.
PROTECT YOURSELF against Social Engineering, malware, viruses, etc…
- Be skeptical of suspicious e-mail, text messages, unfamiliar sites and links and any unprompted requests for personal information.
- Protect your personal information. Keep your user names and passwords secret and be skeptical of any requests for personal information.
- Always look for "https://" in the address of any site where you enter personal information; this indicates a secure connection.
- Do not click on links contained within e-mails. Open a new browser window and type the address yourself.
- Do not reply to phishing, smishing or vishing attempts. Never reply to phone calls, e-mail, or text messages asking for personal or financial information unless you can confirm the requestors identity.
- Keep security software (antivirus, anti-malware) up-to-date and keep firewall settings active.
FBI Fraud Alert - Don't Get Scammed!
Cash Advance Scams Are Increasing. You Could Be Involved In A Fraud Or About To Be Scammed!
- Mystery Shopper Scams: Paying a fee to be a “Mystery Shopper”
- Lottery Winning Scams: Paying Fees or Taxes to receive winnings
- Agent Scams: Paying Commission for facilitating Items
- Inheritance Scams: "A Long Lost Family Member Has Died"
- Have you been instructed to either "Wire", "Send by Western Union", or "Ship" money, as soon as possible, to a foreign country, such as Canada, England, Nigeria or to a different area of the United States?
There are different variations on the types of frauds listed above. Please take the time to ask bank employees for assistance before depositing or cashing any checks that may be suspicious!
You are responsible for any checks you cash or deposit! Amount of items returned will be charged against your account!
Identity Theft -- What Is It and What to Do
Identity theft and account fraud are making big headlines. How can someone steal your identity? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security Number, credit card number, account number, or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years - and their hard-earned money - cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.
Your bank works hard every day to ward off these threats. Security is paramount in gathering personal data, as well as tracking transactions. There is a great deal of emphasis and specialization on things like encryption of information and strict authentication practices, but maximum security is possible only with your help.
Educating yourself on how to protect against privacy invasions is critical. Once you understand what information should be protected and what to do in case that information is compromised, you'll feel much more secure.
Here are some things you can do to prevent these crimes from happening and protect your assets and your good name:
- Don't give out financial information such as checking and credit card numbers and especially your Social Security number over the phone unless you initiated the call and know the person or organization you're dealing with.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately. Also, review new deliveries of checks to make sure none has been lost in transit.
- Do not carry all your credit cards, your Social Security card, passport, etc in your wallet or purse at all times. Carry these only when need them.
- Carefully monitor your monthly bank and credit card statements and order a credit report once a year to check for inaccuracies and fraudulent use of your accounts.
- Guard your ATM Personal Identification Number and the ATM receipts.
- Be very careful when using your credit card on the Internet, or providing other information such as your Social Security number or other personal information.
- Always shred pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills and other financial information before discarding them in the trash.
- If you applied for a new credit card or your regular bills have not arrived in a timely manner, call the bank or company involved.
- Don't put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a secure, official Postal Service collection box.
If you think your identity has been stolen, here's what to do now:
- Contact your bank(s) and credit card issuers immediately so that the following can be done: access to your accounts can be protected/restricted; stop payments on missing checks; personal identification numbers (PINS) and online banking passwords changed; and a new account opened if appropriate. Be sure to indicate to the bank or card issuer all of the accounts and/or cards potentially impacted including ATM cards, check (debit) cards and credit cards. Customer service or fraud prevention telephone numbers can generally be found on your monthly statements.
- Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus (see list below) to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts, and all three credit reports will be sent to you free of charge.
Credit Bureau Web sites and Phone Numbers
- Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a police report. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
- File your complaint with the FTC (www.ftc.gov). The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.
For more in-depth information on recovering from identity theft and help with protecting your personal records, visit www.identitytheft.gov.
Protect Yourself and Your Computer
There are many nasty things that can happen to your computer resulting in loss of data and/or unintended divulgence of personal information. Following are things that could make you and your PC very unhappy and some recommended ways to protect yourself…
A program or piece of computer code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes. Viruses are capable of replication to other computers. Viruses can compromise computer and network resources and bypass security systems. Some people distinguish between general viruses and worms. A worm is a special type of virus that can replicate itself and use memory, but cannot attach itself to other programs.
- Purchase Antivirus (AV) software – AV software detects and removes viruses/worms from your computer (McAfee, Symantec).
- Purchase Firewall software - firewall software protects your computer from anything (or anyone) on the Internet that tries to access or alter files on your PC without your permission (McAfee, Symantec).
- Regularly update the virus definition files associated with the AV software.
- Regularly scan your computer for viruses.
- Do not click on or follow hyperlinks you are not familiar with or do not trust.
- Do not open e-mail attachments sent from a source you are not familiar with or do not trust.
Software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are inadvertently installed when visiting a website or clicking a hyperlink. Once installed, spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that information covertly to someone else. Spyware can also gather and transmit personal information (e-mail addresses, passwords, credit card numbers, etc…). Spyware can also cause problems with computer resources causing PC's to run slowly or erratically.
- Purchase software that protects your computer from anything (or anyone) on the Internet that tries to access or alter files on your PC without your permission (AdAware, Spybot).
- Minimize unnecessary “surfing” on the Internet
- Do not click on or follow hyperlinks you are not familiar with or do not trust.
- Do not open e-mail attachments sent from a source you are not familiar with or do not trust.
Electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings. Some people define spam even more generally as any unsolicited e-mail. E-mail advertising for some product sent to a mailing list or newsgroup.
- Purchase Anti-Spam Software - this software filters your e-mail for SPAM and either deletes it or directs it to a destination of your choosing. There are many companies who offer anti-spam software packaged with AV software (McAfee, Symantec).
- Utilize SPAM filters provided by your email provider.