Scam of the day – April 18, 2015 – TD Bank hit by a skimmer

The Chelmsford Massachusetts police are investigating a skimmer that was found installed on a branch of TD Bank in Chelmsford Massachusetts.  Skimmers are small electronic devices that are easily installed by an identity thief on ATMs and other card reading devices, such as at gas pumps.  The skimmer steals all of the information from the credit card or debit card which then permits the identity thief to access that information to access the victim’s bank account when the skimmer is used on a debit card attached to a bank account.  Each skimmer can hold information on as many as 2,400 cards.

TIPS

Always look for signs of tampering on any machine through which you swipe your credit card or debit card.  If the card inserting mechanism appears loose or in any other way tampered, don’t use it.   Debit cards, which are used at ATMs when compromised through a skimmer put the customers at risk of having the bank accounts tied to their cards entirely emptied if they do not report a theft promptly.   Skimmers at ATMs are often coupled with a thin, clear electronic device that goes on top of the keyboard to capture the victim’s PIN to enable the identity thief to access the account of the victim whose account number was captured through the skimmer.

Scam of the day – January 28, 2015 – Phony Chinese bank scams millions

Scam artists are the only criminals and with good reason, the creativity and audacity shown by these criminals can sometimes be astounding.  Recently, a phony Chinese bank was shut down by Chinese authorities, but not before it had swindled innocent Chinese customers including a large number of small businesses out of an estimated 200 million dollars.  The phony bank, Nanjing Mou Village Cooperation Unit operated in the Chinese city of Nanjing for about a year before the fraud was discovered and the bank closed down by authorities.  Physically it looked like a bank, but it had no legal authority to act as a bank.  As with so many scams, a telltale sign is an offer that is too good to be true.  In this particular case, the bank promised depositors 2% interest on their deposits each and every week.   A phony bank scam is nothing new to China.  In 2012, Lin Chunping claimed to have purchased and then operated an American bank in China that turned out later to be nonexistent.  Lin is now serving a life sentence for fraud.

TIPS

When it comes to investing or banking, you should always check out the legitimacy of the financial institution before turning over your  money.  There are many federal and state regulatory agencies that relate to various financial businesses and it is an easy task to find out prior to investing or saving with a particular company or bank whether or not the company is legitimate.  Of course, anytime you are enticed by an offer that sounds too good to be true, you should be particularly skeptical and at this point in time a promise of 2% per week is outrageously unlikely to be legitimate.

Scam of the day – August 30, 2014 – New scam threats springing from J.P. Morgan data breach

As I have told you so many times, whenever something catches the attention of the public, it catches the attention of scammers and identity thieves who use it as a hook to turn that public’s interest in something into making the public victims of scams.  The recent death of Robin Williams and the Ice Bucket Challenge are two examples of things that have fascinated the public that were used to turn people into scam victims.  You can find the details about both of these scams in previous Scams of the day.  Now, the J.P. Morgan bank hacking is a big news story and it should be.  The data breach at J.P. Morgan and a number of other banks poses a serious threat to the financial well being of many people.  Scammers and identity thieves are now capitalizing on this concern and fear in the public to send emails and text messages to people in which the identity thieves pose as J.P. Morgan or other banks.  In the emails and text messages, you are told about problems with your account that require your immediate attention and you are directed to click on a link for further information.  If you click on this link, however, you will end up downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal the personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  In another variation of this scam, you are directed to provide your personal banking account information in response to the email for verification purposes.  Of course, if you do this, all you will succeed in doing is providing an identity thief with the information he or she needs to steal money from your accounts.

TIPS

Whenever you receive an email or a text message you cannot be sure of who sent it to you.  Even if the address of the sender appears to be legitimate, it is easy for a scam artist (remember, they are called artists) to “spoof” or counterfeit a legitimate address to make the message appear to be legitimate.  Never provide personal information in response to an email or text message.  Never click on links in emails or text messages unless you are absolutely sure that the message is legitimate.  If you have think that the email or text message may be legitimate, you should call the bank or other purported sender at a phone number that you independently have confirmed is legitimate to inquire.  Don’t call the number provided to you by the scammer.

Scam of the day – April 30, 2013 – Wells Fargo bank email scam

Once again, I had to go no further than my own email to find today’s scam of the day.  Recently I received an email which purported to be from Wells Fargo Bank indicating there was a problem with my bank account and that my account was being blocked.  In order to unblock my account, I was instructed to click on a link.  If I had done so,  I would have downloaded keystroke logging malware that would have stolen all of the information contained on my computer and made me a victim of identity theft.  A copy of the email appears below.  DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK.  The email did not carry any Wells Fargo logo, did not refer to me by name and did not reference an account number.  These are all indications that this email was a fake.  Identity thieves depend on people reacting emotionally when they receive such an email by clicking on the link.  Never click on links in emails that you are not absolutely sure are legitimate.

“We noticed some irregular online banking activities on your account. Due to this reason, we blocked it. Unlock it now.

Wells Fargo Online Security”

TIPS

If you ever get such an email, immediately delete it.  I knew immediately that the email was a scam because I don’t have a Wells Fargo account, however, if you ever have the slightest thought that the email may be legitimate, do not click on the link, but rather call the company at a number that you know is legitimate to inform them that you received the email and to inquire as to whether it was legitimate.  You will promptly find out that it was a scam.

Scam of the day – February 15, 2013 – Banking fee refund scam

Scams and identity theft are worldwide phenomena.   In fact, many of the scams and identity theft schemes threatening Americans come from overseas so it is interesting to take notice of scams going on in other parts of the world that are a pretty sure bet to turn up here in the United States in the not too distant future.  The New Zealand Banker’s Association has been alerting the public about a scam in which people are being called on the phone and told that they are eligible to receive a refund of excessive bank fees that had been charged by their bank.  All that is necessary to process the refund is for the person called to provide his or her bank account number, PIN or other personal bank related information.  Unfortunately, this is a scam and if the unsuspecting victim provides the information, he or she will shortly end up having his or her bank account emptied by the identity thief.

TIPS

Anytime you get a call from someone purporting to be from your bank asking for information, you should be skeptical of the call.  Even if you have caller ID and it indicates that the call is indeed from your bank, you cannot be sure that the call is from your bank because sophisticated identity thieves are able to “spoof” a telephone number to make it appear on your caller ID as if it was coming from your bank when in truth, it is not.  The bottom line is that you can never be sure of the identity of anyone who calls you on the phone.  If you have any thought that the call might be legitimate, it is a simple matter to hang up the phone and call your bank at a number that you know is accurate to find out if indeed the call was legitimate.  Similar scams that we have already seen in this country may involve the assertion that your account’s security has been breached or the bank is updating its security system.  Whatever the basis for the call, never give your personal information over the phone to someone you have not called.