Fraud Protection...



FRAUD - How to 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

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, 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:

1.True name fraud: Establishing (or attempting to establish) an account(s) using another person's identity.

2. 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 and existing account, such as forged-maker signature, counterfeit, and credit card misuse.

Online Fraud


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 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 and look similar to the legitimate site in hopes of capturing your confidential information.

Offline Fraud

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 to lure them with cash gifts or prizes in exchange for personal or account information.

Print Fraud

Scammers will use local and community newspapers publishing 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.



How To Identify Fraud


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 a year.

·         For more information about ordering free credit reports, go to the special Web site established by the three credit bureaus at or call 815.937.2800.

For more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft and the steps you can take to safeguard your computers and personal information, review the online educational tool* on FDIC's Web site.


Learn More About Fraud


The following are some useful links to learn more about online fraud:

Examples of Fraud/Latest Artists



The following are examples of fraud that we've identified. We’ve categorized the scams by their subject matter and content.

IRS Scam

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a warning about an email scam that looks like official communications from the IRS. The email scam notifies individuals of an impending audit or an offer to access a refund. The fake message includes links to Web pages that use graphics from the IRS and an official copyright notice. The IRS does not communicate with taxpayers via email. If the IRS needs to contact you, it will do so by mail or phone.

Million Dollar Sweepstakes

Official notices from the World Lottery Association asserting you've won a million dollar sweepstakes are fraudulent. The scam states that funds have been deposited with Blah Blah Blah Bank Financial, Inc. (a fictitious company) and includes a check for $3,999 to "assist in legal and administration fees." The fake letter asks you to keep your winnings from the public until the claim can be processed. Blah Blah Blah Bank is not a part of the scam and the included check is fake and cannot be cashed.

International ATM Alert

Your bank, and other financial institutions, have observed an unprecedented level of fraudulent transactions occurring at ATMs outside the US. In order to protect cardholders traveling outside the US, it has been necessary to temporarily restrict the ATM spending limits in specific areas outside the US. Financial Institutions make effort to exclude their clients with non-US addresses from these changes. While there are only a few areas restricted at this time, additional areas may be added at any time as new areas with concentrated fraud are identified. Due to the changing nature of this situation, no listing of restricted areas or of the value of the restricted limits will be provided.

Protecting Your Computer and Online accounts

Protect your computer like you protect your checkbook. The following tips will help you protect your computer and your online accounts:

  • Be cognizant of your surroundings when using a public computer or working on a wireless network.
  • Keep your online accounts active – such as Online Banking with Bill Pay – to watch for any suspicious transactions.
  • Help protect your computer and your accounts by installing anti-spyware on your computer. Anti-spyware can help prevent the collection of your personal and account information without your knowledge.
  • Update your antivirus software regularly to help protect your computer against viruses and other harmful computer codes.
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest online security concerns such as viruses, keyloggers, and trojan horses. These destructive software programs can often appear to be authentic, but can result in damage to your computer.

Suspicious Activity/Account at Risk

Some clients have received emails that convey a sense of urgency and warn them that their accounts are at risk. For example, they notify clients that your bank suspects fraudulent activities or charges on their accounts. The fraudulent emails often include the name of a fictitious business and dollar amounts of the "suspected" charges and ask clients to respond to the emails to resolve the issue.

Bank System/Technical Updates

Many fraudulent emails mention "system," "technical" or "technology" updates at your bank. For example, one email tells clients that there has been a "regular update and verification" to their Online Banking accounts and that they need to verify their information. Clients are warned that their access to Online Banking will be limited if they do not respond. Your Bank will never ask for passwords or login information during any system update procedure.

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. Here are some examples of recent fraudulent telephone activities:

  • "Gift of $10,000 cash." The caller tells clients that they've won a gift of $10,000. Clients are asked to confirm their account and routing numbers so that the money can be transferred to their accounts by wire.
  • "Verify Possible Fraudulent Card Information" Clients recieve a voice mail and are asked to verify possible fraudulent activities on their cards. The voice mail includes bogus phone numbers for clients to call.

Print Fraud

Some scammers use local and community newspapers to publish fraudulent advertisements that use a bank logo. These ads offer special rates for debt consolidation, small businesses and loans for mortgages.

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 a legitimate 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 your mail daily. Drop your mail in an official postal mailbox.

Other Types of Fraud:

Client Fraud

Originally this type of fraud was called the Nigerian 419/Advance fee but now it usually involves an array of foreign countries. This type of fraud typically involves a client being contacted for employment, winning a lottery they never entered, or claiming an inheritance on a long lost relative they never knew. Clients are instructed to pre-pay for various bank and transfer fees before collecting the money.

If you receive an email that appears to be from a bank or financial institution and it asks you to provide, update, or verify personal or account information, do not respond. The email was probably not authorized by your bank and is fraudulent. Please forward information about the email to your bank or financial institution.



Help Protect Yourself from Fraud


There are many things you can do to help secure your identity and your accounts. Here are some tips to follow.

Identity Theft

  • Don't include your Social Security Number or driver's license number on sensitive documents.
  • Don't leave incoming mail lying around.
  • Drop your mail in an official postal mailbox.
  • Shred or destroy any junk mail before you throw it away.
  • Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal or account information.
  • Use a safe deposit box to protect important documents.
  • Review your credit report at least once a year.
  • For more information about ordering free credit reports, go to the special Web site established by the three credit bureaus at

Online Fraud

  • Look beyond the logo. To make fraudulent emails or Web sites appear real, scammers often include actual logos and images of legitimate companies. They also convey a sense of urgency, stating that if you fail to provide, update, or verify your personal or account information, access to your accounts will be suspended. It's important that you look beyond the logo and not give out your information.
  • Use your spam filter. Many email services now have spam filters that minimize the amount of spam you receive. The filters can help you minimize the number of fraudulent emails in your inbox.
  • Type, don't click. Even if you do open a suspicious email, don't click on any links. By clicking on the links, you could unknowingly download a virus or spyware to your computer. Even if you think the email is legitimate, type Web addresses into your browser instead of clicking on links. If the email is from an institution you do business with, use a bookmark that you've already created to visit the company's Web site.
  • Change your online passwords often. The rule of thumb is to change your password every 30 to 60 days. Be creative with your passwords – stay away from obvious passwords like your zip code, year of birth, or sensitive information such as your mother's maiden name or your Social Security Number. Include symbols and/ or upper and lower case letters so passwords can't be easily intercepted, i.e.,%Eq?St.
  • Update your anti-virus and anti-spam software. By keeping anti-virus and anti-spam software up to date on your computers, you make it more difficult for scammers to access your personal and account information. You can purchase anti-virus and anti-spyware software at major retail stores, as well as on the Internet.
  • Delete emails from unknown senders with nonsensical subject lines.

Offline Fraud:

Credit Card Fraud

  • Sign your cards immediately once they arrive in the mail.
  • Memorize your PIN and don't write it on anything, especially something in your wallet.
  • Don't enter your card online unless you're on a secure site. Don't send your credit card number in the mail.
  • Keep a record of all your account numbers, expiration dates, and contact information for each issuer. This will come in handy if your wallet is lost or stolen.
  • Report a lost or stolen card right away. Quick action will minimize potential loss and liability.
  • Save your receipts to compare against your billing statement. When discarding receipts, tear them up or shred them.
  • Monitor your statements monthly, making sure you recognize all charges. If you see any suspicious transactions, contact your bank immediately.
  • Carefully review receipts for voided transactions and be sure they do not post to your account.
  • Destroy your carbons. Do not leave them behind without tearing them up.
  • Don't leave your purse, wallet, cards or receipts unattended. Always keep them secure or in your sight.
  • Only carry cards that you need, leaving others in a safe place at home.
  • Don't give out your account number unless you know and trust the company.
  • In lieu of a signature on your credit card, write "verify signature on driver's license."
  • Shield your hand from view of others when entering your PIN at POST/ATMs.

Telephone Solicitations

  • Register your home and cellular phone numbers with the Federal Do Not Call Registry at 888.382.1222 to prohibit telemarketers from calling you.
  • Use caution when disclosing personal information.

Print Fraud

  • Do your homework. If you see an advertisement for a loan or mortgage, make sure that it is legitimate. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check out the source through the Better Business Bureau.

Check Scams

  • Use Direct Deposit for paychecks, Social Security payments and other regular deposits.
  • Be aware of fake check scams that promise easy money for working at home, winning sweepstakes or depositing checks from foreign countries.
  • Do not leave your checkbook unattended.
  • Know who you are doing business with.
  • Report lost or stolen checks immediately to your bank or financial institution!
    • Transition any compromised accounts to new accounts and report the incidents.

Mail Fraud

  • Shred documents containing your personal and financial information before placing them in the trash.
  • Report any unauthorized transactions immediately.

Loan Fraud

  • Notify the lender immediately if you receive a call, confirmation, or decline letter on a loan that you did not apply for. You could be a victim of identity theft.




How Scammers Get Your Email Address


Many scammers randomly generate email addresses - that's why you may have received fraudulent emails that appear to be from banks you do not have an account with. They also purchase mailing lists, obtain email addresses online from Web pages, chat rooms, online auctions, and directories or from illegitimate sources.

How To Report Fraud


  • To report a suspicious email, Web page, or phone call, forward information about the email or Web page to your local police.
  • If you believe you have provided personal or account information in response to a fraudulent email, Web site, or phone call, immediately contact your bank and the police department. 






Equifax Credit Watch and Equifax Credit Report are trademarks of Equifax Consumer Services, Inc. and Equifax is a registered trademark of Equifax Inc., used with permission. Credit information products are provided by Equifax Consumer Services, Inc. HTPD does not guarantee or assume liability for any third-party products or services.