Criminals are constantly creating new ways to gain access to your financial and personal information or to get cash from you or your account. Prime Meridian Bank has provided the information below in order to arm you with the information and tools you need to protect yourself from these scams.
There are general best practices that can be used to protect your personal and financial information, and in some cases, your computers and smartphones as well. They include, but are not limited to:
- Do not email any personal or financial information.
- Do not respond to unsolicited emails that ask for personal information.
- Review your credit card and bank statements timely.
- Do not enter "payment information" on unsecured websites.
- Do not share Log In IDs or passwords with anyone.
Types of Fraud and How to Protect Yourself
There are many types of fraud and new ones continue to emerge. Below are some specific types.
- Advance Fee Fraud
- Debt Elimination Fraud
- Nigerian Fraud
- Cashier's Check Fraud
- Phishing (and E-Mail Fraud)
- Fictitious/Unauthorized Banking
Advance Fee Fraud
Advance fee fraud (upfront fee fraud) is any scam that, in exchange for a fee:
- Promises to send you money, products, or services;
- Offers you the opportunity to participate in a special deal;
- Asks for your assistance in removing funds from a country in political turmoil; or
- Asks for your assistance to help law enforcement catch thieves.
The upfront fees may be referred to as membership fee, participation fee, administrative fee, handling fee, or taxes. No matter what they are called, you will never see your money, or the scammers, again. Two extremely common forms of advance fee fraud are Debt Elimination Fraud and Nigerian Fraud.
Phishing (and E-Mail Fraud)
Fraudsters are always finding new ways to steal your financial and personal information that usually results in identity theft of the victim. When the Internet is used to do that, it is called phishing. Often, they send e-mails or pop-messages that:
- Inform you of a possible problem with your account
- Request information on behalf a government agency, such as the IRS
- State that a refund is waiting for you
- Indicate that there are viruses or malware infecting your computer
A general rule to protect yourself is never download attachments or click on any links within an email from a person or company you do not recognize. If you think you have provided any personal or financial information as a result of phishing, contact your financial institution as soon as possible and closely monitor your accounts and credit reports.