Even High-Tech Fraud Can Be Foiled With Greater Awareness
RBC Bank Offers These Tips to Help Consumers and To Mark March 6-12, National Consumer Protection Week
Raleigh, N.C. – March 7, 2011 – Fraud. It’s not a new idea. But today’s technology makes it easier than ever to trick many individuals and to steal from them. As the United States marks National Consumer Protection Week March 6-12, RBC Bank is urging customers to pay particular attention to National Consumer Protection Week.
“RBC Bank works diligently to protect our customers,” said Stacy Thomas, manager, Privacy and Information Risk Management. “We use a combination of safeguards to protect customer information, such as employee training, strict privacy policies and rigorous security standards. But we can’t do it alone. Customers can help us protect them by following a few simple precautions.”
The following information to raise awareness of common fraud schemes and offer some quick tips you can use to help protect yourself or a family member from fraud.
You’ve Won the Lottery (but you didn’t buy a ticket)
You may be contacted by phone, mail, e-mail or fax and told that you’ve won, inherited or been included in a business venture involving large sums of money. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law. Asking you to pay “postage and handling” is also a warning sign. Foreign lotteries are illegal in the U.S.
To protect yourself: Be very careful about sending any funds to any person or organization that you do not know. Do not make a deposit or open an account on behalf of a person or organization that you do not know personally. Don’t pay for a “free” prize. Don’t wire money to people you don’t know.
Selling Personal Property
If you are selling personal property (e.g. a car or other goods), a fraudulent person may pose as an interested buyer, offer pay for the goods with a check that’s substantially greater than the asking price, and then ask you to return the overpayment. In many cases, the original check is stolen, counterfeit or altered and you won’t discover there is a problem with the check until you have returned the so-called “overpayment” and the fraudster’s check.
To protect yourself: Don’t let yourself be taken in. If you are selling property, accept only cash or if you accept a check, verify the funds are good through your local financial institution and only accept a check for the asking price.
Skimming devices installed by ID thieves at gas pumps, grocery check outs and even ATMs can take your credit and debit card information from you as you swipe your card.
To protect yourself: Skimming devices typically involve extra gear that may make things look a little bulky or out of place at the ATM, such as added faceplates, fake brochure holders and mirrors. If you are skeptical about whether a particular ATM is secure, don’t use that machine. Even if nothing looks out of the ordinary, make it a practice to shield the keypad with your hand while keying in your personal identification number (PIN).
Email scammers may attempt to connect you to a scammer’s link or website. Once that happens, you might find you have downloaded malicious software. Or the scammer’s email or website could invite you to download seemingly legitimate software, which in reality contains hidden damaging code.
To protect yourself: Avoid visiting unfamiliar websites that often crop up in the wake of disasters, holidays and news events.
Social Networking Perils
Be wary of putting more information on your online pages than you would be willing to share with a stranger. Your name, email or street address keyed in to a profile on a social networking site may be just the combination to allow an identity thief to open new accounts in your name or a fraudster to select you as a target.
To protect yourself: Apply the privacy settings that are available on the sites you use and update them as sites evolve. Delete personal information that is sensitive or that you are not comfortable sharing with strangers.
Fake online requests for information that may appear to be queries from your valid accounts are called phishing. These phishing requests often have logos and other graphics that look authentic. ID thieves may send you an email and attempt to convince you to provide account information such as PINs and account numbers that will allow them to steal from you online or to gain enough personal data to assume your identity and open new accounts in your name.
To protect yourself: Never provide sensitive information electronically in any transaction that you did not initiate. If you think you have been phished, contact the company that appears to be sending the email/request via separate email or by phone to alert them of the activity and to ensure that your account has not been compromised.
You may be called on the phone by someone claiming that you have won a prize or a trip. You will likely be asked for your credit card number, requested to purchase a promotional item or asked pay the taxes in order to collect the prize.
To protect yourself: Do not provide credit card or bank numbers for a transaction that you did not initiate. If you’re suspicious that you may be a target of a telemarketing scam contact the Federal Trade Commission: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
This article is provided by RBC Bank. The information included in this article is not intended to be used as the primary basis for making financial decisions. RBC Bank does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your own financial, tax or legal advisor.
To request a seminar on Protecting Your Identity, contact your local RBC Bank branch. For more information, tips and videos, visit RBC's Privacy and Security site.
About RBC Bank
RBC Bank, headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., offers a wide range of financial services and advice to individuals, businesses and public institutions throughout the Southeast. RBC Bank’s network includes more than 420 full-service banking centers in six states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia), an extensive ATM network and telephone and online banking. RBC Bank is the 40th largest U.S. bank by consolidated assets, according to SNL Financial’s List of the Nation’s 50 Largest Banks, September 2010. RBC Bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) (RY on the TSX and NYSE), Canada's largest and most stable bank as measured by assets and market capitalization. In August 2009, Global Finance Magazine ranked RBC as the safest bank in the Western Hemisphere. RBC is also one of the world's financial, social and environmental corporate leaders, having appeared on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index every year since its creation in 1999. Additional information about RBC Bank may be found at www.rbcbankusa.com.