How to Mitigate the Risks of Cybercrime
How Bridge Bank Protects Your eBanking Account
What to Expect if Your Account is Compromised
Warning: Pirates are trying to steal your personal financial information.
Here's the Good News: YOU have the Power to Stop Them
You’re probably familiar with the term “phishing,” pronounced “fishing,” and that's exactly what these thieves are doing: "fishing" for your personal financial information. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.
In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver's licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.
How Phishing Works:
In a typical case, you'll receive an email that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the email may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.
The email will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as "Immediate attention required," or "Please contact us immediately about your account." The email will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution's website.
In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company's actual website. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information.
In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother's maiden name or your place of birth.
If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.
How to Protect Yourself
Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the internet. Emails and internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the financial institution yourself. You can find phone numbers and websites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look the company up in a phone book or on the internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
Never provide your password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited internet request. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your savings.
Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, periodically review activity online to catch suspicious activity.
What to Do if You Fall Victim:
Contact your financial institution immediately and alert it to the situation.
55 Almaden Boulevard, Suite 100
San Jose, CA 95113
If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name. Here is the contact information for each bureau's fraud division:
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
Report all suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the internet at www.consumer.gov, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
You Can Fight Identity Theft... Here's How:
- Never provide personal financial information, including your Social Security number, account numbers or passwords, over the phone or the internet if you did not initiate the contact.
- Never click on the link provided in an email you believe is fraudulent. It may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.
- Do not be intimidated by an email or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial information.
- If you believe the contact is legitimate, go to the company's website by typing in the site address directly or using a page you have previously book marked, instead of a link provided in the email.
- If you fall victim to an attack, act immediately to protect yourself.
- Report suspicious emails or calls to the Federal Trade Commission through the internet at www.consumer.gov, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
If you are concerned about the privacy of your personal information, here are some helpful tips:
- Regularly monitor all your accounts, including your retirement, investment and credit card statements, and immediately notify your financial institution of any suspicious activity.
- Consider freezing your credit. A credit freeze can stop thieves from opening new accounts with your information. However, if you need to open a new account, such as a bank account, car loan or new credit card, you will need to unfreeze your credit first. Freezing your credit will require you to place freezes with each of the three major credit agencies. Placing and lifting freezes can cost up to ten dollars per agency depending on your state. If you are a victim of identity theft, fees may be waived.
- Sign up for fraud monitoring. There are multiple services available to choose from with a variety of account and notification options.
There are a number of useful online resources for consumers. One great one is www.ftc.gov/idtheft, a one-stop national reference tool providing detailed information to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft. It will also help you address questions like:
- What are the steps I should take if I'm a victim of identity theft?
- What is a fraud alert?
- What is a credit freeze?
- What is an identity theft report?
- What do I do if the police only take reports about identity theft over the Internet or telephone?
- What do I do if the local police won't take a report?
- How do I prove that I'm an identity theft victim?
- Should I apply for a new Social Security number?
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