A new type of identity theft has popped up in the last few months involving con artists posing as tax officials. The criminals claim to be tax professionals licensed by the U.S. government to represent taxpayers and assist them in tax preparation and planning. Targeted customers get official looking letters and forms from either their financial institution or the IRS requesting detailed personal information and financial data. In one case, a letter with a "Reporting and Withholding Exemption Form" was enclosed and the recipient was told to fill out the form and fax it to a telephone number to prevent automatic withholding of one-third of the interest on the taxpayer's account. The form asked for a Social Security number, marital status, place of birth, bank account number, employment history and parents' names - lots of valuable information to someone to use to create fake accounts. Some of the phony documents look like official IRS forms but carry fictitious numbers.
Please contact your financial institution anytime you receive anything requesting your account information, and remember that Mineola Community Bank will never send you an email requesting any personal or financial information
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has been notified that consumers have received e-mails that appear to the reader to be related to banking activities. The fraudulent e-mails request that the recipients respond to a notice from their bank to confirm an online payment to be made for products purchased. The link contained within the e-mail serves as a gateway to the fraudulent Web site. The fraudulent Web site is designed to look like a page from the FDIC’s authentic Web page, where the individual is then directed to provide sensitive financial and personal information, such as bank or credit card account numbers.
The use of this type of e-mail scam, seeking to obtain sensitive information from individuals, is referred to as "phishing." The FDIC provides information on its Web site that explains more about phishing and other types of fraudulent activity targeting consumers at http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/alerts/index.html. The information on this site also provides consumers with tips on protecting personal information from these types of scams.
This alert is intended to warn consumers that the fraudulent e-mail, which could also possibly contain a computer virus, was not sent by the FDIC. Consumers are warned NOT to access the link or submit personal information through this site. Additionally, as a reminder to all consumer, the FDIC strongly recommends that individuals safeguard personal information and refrain from responding to any unsolicited request for personal information.
With the passage of the Check Clearing Act for the 21st Century, we may find that float is greatly reduced and the checkless society that many have talked about for years is finally here.
Begining on October 28th 2004, we will see increased check processing due to check imaging and clearing checks through the banking system with telephone lines and computers. The banking industry also will have a new document called a "substitute check". This substitute check will be used for banks that are not ready for imaging and continue to clear checks the old fashioned way.
By now you might be saying "Why?". With 9/11, the banking industry found the checks stopped clearing when the New York Federal Reserve was unable to send or receive checks due to transportation problems at that time. It is part of our homeland security to be able to clear checks and continue business even if the planes, trains and automobiles stop moving.
We want you to know that we will still image your original checks as we agreed to.
Be careful, in the future with float. Float time will be drastically reduced or eliminated. Make sure that when you write a check, you have the funds available in your account to cover the check.
If you have any questions about the Check 21 Act, please contact any bank employee.
Identity theft is the act where a person willfully obtains the personal information of another person without authorization from that person, and uses that information for any unlawful purpose.
Roughly one in five Americans has already fallen victim to identity theft. Sadly, many don’t know they are victims. Identity theft is growing faster in the small towns where people are more trusting and less precautions are taken to safeguard their identity. Already 20% of the population has had their personal information used by crooks to obtain goods and services. There is an average of 3,000 new victims each day. In 2003 the number of victims increased to 10 million.
How is the victim’s personal information compromised? Crooks are using a wide variety of means to collect our personal information. Mail theft tends to be the most popular. Rummaging through trash cans is a close second. Other means to obtain your personal information include car theft, residential and business burglaries, phone solicitors and e-mail scams. Think for a minute how many times you have left your briefcase, purse, wallet or laptop in your vehicle when you go shopping or parked in your driveway.
a. Check your credit a minimum of twice per year. We have a link to the credit bureaus on our website.
b. Subscribe to a credit alert service
c. Shred all personal documents before disposing
d. Don’t leave incoming mail overnight in the mailbox
e. Deposit outgoing mail at the post office
f. Don’t leave personal information in your vehicle or office
g. Don’t provide personal information over the phone
h. Don’t provide personal information over the computer
i. Don’t put your DL# or SS# on your check orders
j. Only order checks thru reputable companies
k. Pick your checks up at the bank instead of having them mailed to you
l. Call your bank immediately if you suspect identity theft
What is Phishing?
Phishing attacks use 'spoofed' e-mails and fraudulent websites designed to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, social security numbers, bank account numbers, debit card numbers and Pins, etc. By hijacking the trusted brands of well-known banks, your own bank, online retailers and credit card companies, phishers are able to convince up to 5% of recipients to respond to them.
The number and sophistication of phishing scams sent out to consumers is continuing to increase dramatically. While online banking and e-commerce is very safe, as a general rule you should be careful about giving out your personal financial information over the Internet. These scams typically involve the use of seemingly legitimate e-mail messages and Web sites to deceive consumers into disclosing sensitive information, such as bank account information, with the ultimate goal of gaining access to financial accounts or committing identity theft and other illegal acts. Many of the schemes reported recently have targeted financial institution customers.
Financial institution customers who provide confidential information to criminals engaging in e-mail and Internet-related fraudulent schemes face immediate risk. Criminals will normally act quickly to gain unauthorized access to financial accounts, commit identity theft or engage in other illegal acts before the victim realizes the fraud has occurred and take actions to stop it.
Here is a list of recommendations that you can use to avoid becoming a victim of these scams:
Currently there is a new version of the Nigerian Scam, that of the counterfeit bank checks. The perpetrator will purchase something over the Internet that the victim has for sale. This is usually a large ticket item such as a car, motorcycle, pedigreed puppies, etc. If the cost is $6,000 for example, the seller may receive a cashier check for $20,000 with the explanation that someone else owed the buyer money, and they are paying by sending the check to the seller. The seller is inst5ructed to deposit the check, keep the price of the merchandise and wire the balance to the buyer. Relying on the fact that official bank checks are widely known to be as good as cash, it’s a shock when the check is returned marked "Counterfeit."
The latest version of the email scam is purportedly from an American soldier in Afghanistan. This "Special Forces Commando" needs help getting terrorist drug money out of the country. One name reported is "Brandon Curtis" who says he found $36 million in drug money during a patrol, which is now in a suitcase. He’ll ship it to you, and send you the waybill so you can claim the luggage, hold it for him and his friends and you’ll get a percentage of the funds. If his offer is accepted, he will need you to send him money to bribe officers, for shipping costs, etc., hence you are out lots of money and you will never see a suitcase full of money.