Fraudsters are relentless in their development of scams to outsmart the existing authentication controls put in place to protect account information. Here some of the recent scams:
Tips to Protect Your Computer from Intrusion (8/26/2014)
Keep Your Firewall Turned On: Whenever your computer is on be sure your firewall is on. A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers. Software firewalls are widely recommended for single computers. The software is prepackaged on some operating systems or can be purchased for individual computers. For multiple networked computers, hardware routers typically provide firewall protection.
Install and Update Your Antivirus Software: Antivirus software is designed to prevent malicious software programs from embedding on your computer. If malicious code, a virus or a worm is detected, the software works to disarm or remove it. These infections can infect computers without your knowledge. If your software offers it, set it to update automatically.
Install and Update Your Antispyware Technology: Spyware is just what it sounds like-software that is secretly installed on your computer to let others watch your activities on the computer. Some spyware collects information about you without your consent or produces unwanted pop-up ads on your web browser. Some operating systems offer free spyware protection, and inexpensive software is readily available for download on the Internet or at your local computer store. Be wary of ads on the Internet offering downloadable antispyware. In some cases these products may be fake and actually contain spyware or other malicious code.
Keep Your Operating System Up to Date: Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.
Be Careful What You Download: Carelessly downloading e-mail attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant anti-virus software. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of attachments from people you do know. They may have unwittingly advanced malicious code. Also be wary of links embedded in emails. They may lead you to rogue websites that download malicious code to your computer.
Turn Off Your Computer: With the growth of high-speed Internet connections it is easy to leave your computers on and ready to go. But it always on it is more susceptible to unwanted attacks. Turning the computer off stops an attacker's connection to send it spyware or use it as a botnet that employs your computer's resources to reach out to other unwitting users.
Check out our “Protect Yourself from Online Fraud” page for a list of additional resources for more information.
IRS Updates Phone Scams Warning (8/26/2014)
The IRS is again warning the public about phone scams that continue to claim victims all across the country. In these scams, thieves make unsolicited phone calls to their intended victims. Callers fraudulently claim to be from the IRS and demand immediate payment of taxes by a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The callers are often hostile and abusive.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received 90,000 complaints about these scams. TIGTA estimates that thieves have stolen an estimated $5 million from about 1,100 victims. To avoid becoming a victim of these scams, you should know:
The IRS will first contact you by mail if you owe taxes, not by phone.
The IRS never asks for credit, debit or prepaid card information over the phone.
The IRS never insists that you use a specific payment method to pay your tax.
The IRS never requests immediate payment over the telephone.
The IRS will always treat you professionally and courteously.
Scammers may tell would-be victims that they owe money and that they must pay what they owe immediately. They may also tell them that they are entitled to a large refund. Other characteristics of these scams include:
Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers to identify themselves.
Scammers may know the last four digits of your Social Security number.
Scammers spoof caller ID to make the phone number appear as if the IRS is calling.
Scammers may send bogus IRS emails to victims to support their bogus calls.
Victims hear background noise of other calls to mimic a call site.
After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up. Others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and caller ID again supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you with a payment issue if you owe taxes.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or don’t think that you owe any taxes, then call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
If scammers have tried this scam on you, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
The IRS encourages you to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. Visit the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov, to learn how to report tax fraud and for more information on what you can do to avoid becoming a victim.
Fraudulent Credit Card Charges (2/5/2014)
If you see a $9.84 charge on your credit card statement, you should give it a hard look, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning. The BBB says scammers are charging stolen credit card numbers for a small amount of money. Many recent victims were charged $9.84. The scammers believe many cardholders won't notice the relatively small charge, and the credit card companies won't aggressively investigate such a minor sum.
The BBB says that for the $9.84 scam, the source listed on the credit card bill is an unfamiliar website that turns out to be a generic landing page that claims to offer "Customer Support." Victims have reported calling the "customer support" site and receiving a verbal confirmation that the charge would be canceled. You should contact your credit card issuer to report the charges and request a new credit card.
Target Payment Card Data Breach (12/23/13)
Last week, Target confirmed reports of unauthorized access to its payment card data in the U.S. The unauthorized access took place in U.S. Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013. Canadian stores and target.com were not affected.
What should I do if I used my Isabella Bank ATM/debit card during this time period at Target?
Even if you shopped at Target during this time frame, it doesn’t mean you are a victim of fraud. However, as a precaution, Isabella Bank identified the card holders who used their card during this time period, contacted each cardholder, and reissued them a new ATM/debit card and PIN. We are happy to report that many of our customers have already started to receive new cards.
What do I need to do when I receive my new ATM/debit card and PIN?
You should immediately activate your new card. You may activate it in 1 of 2 ways: 1. By using your new PIN with a PIN based transaction at a store or at any ATM Machine or 2. You may call Touchtone Banking and select option 8.
What if I don’t like my new PIN?
If you do not like your new or existing PIN, you may now change your PIN at any Isabella Bank ATM machine. You will need your new or existing PIN in order to make the change.
What should I do if I used a card from another financial institution during this time period at Target?
If you have not heard from your financial institution, we recommend contacting them to determine the status of your card.
How does Isabella Bank help keep my accounts safe?
Isabella Bank has special software designed to help detect fraud. We also belong to a network which updates us on breaches, like Target, that take place across the country. This allows us to be proactive in identifying possible fraud.
How can I help keep my accounts safe?
? Check your account activity regularly and report any unauthorized activity to your local office.
? Make purchases from companies you know.
? When shopping online, only put your card information into the site if it is secure. (Some ways you can tell: closed lock in the address bar, the address line has an “s” with https).
? To check your credit report for free, you may do so annually at annualcreditreport.com.
Avoid ID Theft and Fraud in the New Health Insurance Marketplace (11/08/13)
Obamacare scams come in a variety of forms. Consumers have complained about con artists contacting them by phone, fax, email and even in person. A common version of the scams involves fraudsters claiming to be from the federal government and directing consumers to purchase insurance cards in order to be eligible for coverage under the ACA. Scammers intimidate consumers to give them their bank account or make a direct cash transfer by using words like “it is the law” or “the government now requires it.”
Avoid ID Theft and Fraud in the New Health Insurance Marketplace
Most people don’t have to do anything. If you already have health insurance through your employer, Medicare, Medicaid, your school, the Veteran’s Administration, or some other program, you don’t have to sign up, get a new insurance card or make any changes.
The government is not calling. Or sending emails. Or knocking on people’s doors to sign them up for health insurance under the ACA. Don’t give your bank account number, Social Security number, or other personal information to anyone you did not contact or in response to any advertisements.
There is no rush. People who are eligible to buy plans through the marketplaces have until March 31, 2014 to do so.
Research before you sign up. At www.HealthCare.gov you can get answers to your questions about how the law works, see the plans that are available to you Or you can call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY users can call 1-855-889-4325). There are also trained people in every state to assist you, free of charge, if you need more help.
There is no application fee or charge to get help with the process. The only thing that people will have to pay under the ACA is their monthly insurance bill. If anyone wants to charge you for providing information or helping you sign up, it’s a scam.
Report anything suspicious. Call the HeathCare.gov hotline, 1-800-318-2596 (TTY users can call 1-855-889-4325) to report scams.
Get the facts from trusted sources. In addition to HealthCare.gov, there are many other sources for good information about the law and how to avoid problems. You’ll find more tips about fraud at www.healthcare.gov/how-can-i-protect-myself-from-fraud-in-the-health-insurance-marketplace/ and www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0394-suspect-a-health-care-scam.
Utility Scam (11/08/13)
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) warns utility consumers of a growing telephone scam across the country. The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers.
Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as “spoofing.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises consumers who receive suspicious calls to call their utility directly to verify the request for payment. Michigan Utilities have a variety of payment options available for customers, including the ability to pay over a secure Internet site, via U.S. mail, in person at an authorized pay agent location, and by Visa, MasterCard or an eCheck using an authorized utility agent.
Additional Tips on avoiding utility fraud are available on the MPSC website at www.michigan.gov/documents/mpsc/mpsc-ca_utilityservicefraud_211946_7.pdf?20131106132231 or by visiting the FTC at www.ftc.gov.US-CE
US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) has received reports of Department of Homeland Security-themed ransomware (04/08/13)
US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) has received reports of Department of Homeland Security-themed ransomware. Users who are being targeted by the ransomware receive an email message claiming that use of their computer has been suspended and that the user must pay a fine to unblock it. The ransomware falsely claims to be from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Division.
Users who are infected with the malware should consult with a reputable security expert to assist in removing the malware, or perform a clean reinstallation of their OS after formatting their computer's hard drive.
US-CERT and DHS encourage users and administrators to use caution when encountering these types of email messages and take the following preventive measures to protect themselves from phishing scams and malware campaigns that attempt to frighten and deceive a recipient for the purpose of illegal gain.
Do not click on or submit any information to webpages.
Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
Use caution when opening email attachments.
Maintain up-to-date antivirus software.
Users who are infected should change all passwords AFTER removing the malware from their system.
Refer to the US-CERT website (www.us-cert.gov) for additional information about ways to protect yourself.
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