We are continually working to keep your banking information secure. Here are some of the methods we use and some tips that you can take to secure your banking from your mobile devices and your personal computer.
We have also designed a section to inform you of the many different scams that are prevalent today. Some use email, some use smart phones, some use traditional phones but all of them are dangerous. If you think something is too good to be true, it probably is.
Keep yourself, and your money, protected and call us at (207) 442-8711 if you ever suspect someone is trying to steal your personal banking information.
Email scams are a very common type of email that will come into your inbox. Some are easy to spot, some are a little more difficult to identify because the scam artists can be very cunning. Something may seem like a legitimate offer, when really, it’s a plan to steal your money.
Please always use caution when dealing with unsolicited email. Work only with companies you know and have dealt with in the past. If you don’t know who the person or company is that sent you the email, don’t fall prey to these criminals – delete that email!
- Work At Home Scams
- Weight Loss Claims
- Lottery & Sweepstakes Scams
- Fake Check Scams
- Imposter Scams
- Mystery Shopper Scams
- Bogus Apartment Rentals
- Miracle Cures
- Debt Relief Scams
- Pay-in-Advance Credit Offers
- Investment Schemes
- “Nigerian” Email Scam
The Bait: Advertisements that offer home-based work in “one of the fastest growing industries” or by “being your own boss” or by “earning thousands of dollars every month”.
The Catch: What they are not telling you is that you have to spend a lot of money out of pocket and that you won’t be paid for all of the work that has to go into this home-based scheme. You may have to buy software, supplies and equipment.
What You Can Do: Legitimate business that offer home-based employment should provide you with a written description of the program that they are offering. These details should include any upfront costs that you are expected to pay, exactly how money is earned, who will pay you, etc. Be sure to check talk with current employees, not people who are “paid” to give you a good reference.
The Bait: Many emails may make their way into your inbox, promising some pill, patch, cream or other product that will result in dramatic weight loss in a very short amount of time. Others promise that their product will block fat absorption, carbs or calories.
The Catch: These emails are only gimmicks. There is nothing available to purchase that will drastically reduce your weight, without significant changes to your behavior.
What You Can Do:“Experts agree that the best way to lose weight if to eat fewer calories and increase your physical activity so you burn more energy. A reasonable goal is to lose about a pound a week. For most people, that means cutting about 500 calories a day from your diet, eating a variety of nutritious foods, and exercising regularly. Permanent weight loss happens with permanent lifestyle changes. Talk to your health care provider about a nutrition and exercise program suited to your lifestyle and metabolism.” Source: OnguardOnline.gov
The Bait: You are contacted by mail or email claiming that you have “won” a foreign lottery or an online sweepstakes. The letter may even represent that it is from a company or agency that you’ve heard of before. However, in order for you to claim your winnings, you are being asked to cover taxes, fees shipping costs or insurances by sending a bank check or through a wire transfer.
The Catch: Playing in a foreign lottery is illegal. These letters are simply an attempt to get you to wire transfer money to these crooks. Once it’s transferred, it’s gone forever. They may ask for a credit card number, that they will use to rack up credit card charges in your name. Maybe they will ask you for your banking information, so that they can empty your accounts.
What You Can Do: Though it’s tempting to play and it’s exciting to learn you that you’ve “won”, these are only schemes designed to steal your money. If you have really won a sweepstakes or lottery from a legitimate company, you will not have to pay anything at all to claim your winnings.
The Bait: When selling items on an online auction posting or by an ad in the newspaper, you get a response from a so-called buyer who wants to write a check for more than the purchase price, and asks you to wire the difference back to them.
The Catch: The check is counterfeit and if you deposit it into your account, you will lose any money that you wire back to them. These fake checks often look very real and can even trick your bank teller.
What You Can Do: Never accept a check for more than what you are selling your item for. Consider not accepting checks at all and instead use cash or a trusted online payment service.
The Bait: You receive a phone call from someone who is claiming to be a relative in need of help, immediately. The family member may say that their car has broken down, that they are in jail, in the hospital or in a foreign country. They ask you to keep their situation secret from everyone else in the family as they plead for you to wire money to them as soon as possible.
The Catch: This imposter can easily impersonate a trusted friend, family member or organization. If you send money, they may call you for more.
What You Can Do: If you receive a call like this, check the story with another family member or try to ask the caller questions that only that a stranger couldn’t possibly know. Don’t ever feel pressured to send money right away without checking everything first ,
The Bait: You are contacted by email, asking if you are interested in becoming a “secret shopper” to help evaluate customer service at different companies. The first company you are asked to evaluate is Western Union, Money Gram, or another similar company. You are provided with a seemingly legitimate check to deposit into your bank account and are then asked to withdraw the funds in cash and wire it – usually to a foreign country. You are told to fill out an evaluation form on how the wire company performed and then you get to keep a portion of the funds they have provided.
The Catch: The check they are providing to you is fake. It will bounce and be returned to your bank. Then you will be responsible for covering the full amount of the check, in addition to insufficient funds charges.
What You Can Do: Never agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money back to them. You will be left with having to cover the costs.
The Bait:While searching for an apartment or a vacation rental, you find a great prospect at a great price. The landlord says that it can be yours if you send money through a wire transfer. They might say that they are out of the country at the moment and will have their lawyer or another representative get the keys to you.
The Catch: There is no rental, which you will discover only after you’ve wired your money and it is gone. A scammer has hijacked a legitimate rental listing by changing the contact information or there never was a rental to begin with – the scammers might have created a bogus listing.
What You Can Do: Don’t wire money to cover any sort of security deposit, first months rent or application fee. View the property in person and if you can’t see it for yourself, ask a friend or relative to view it for you. Be skeptical of anyone who claims they are out of the country and need you to wire the money to them. Do more research to see if the listing is on any other rental sites or real estate sites.
The Bait:You receive a message stating that a product is a “miracle cure”, “scientific breakthrough” or an “ancient remedy” that can take care of a wide variety of ailments or diseases. Usually the message will state that the supply is limited so you need to act fast. There is a “money-back guarantee” but you will have to pay in advance. Amazing testimonials accompany the message.
The Catch: No product or dietary supplement is available online that can shrink tumors, cure insomnia, treat Alzheimer’s disease, or prevent severe memory loss.
What You Can Do: Always consult your health professional before buying any “cure-all” product.
The Bait:There are ads everywhere for debt relief “programs” that will consolidate your bills into one low monthly payment. They offer to stop creditors from calling you, foreclosures, repossessions and even to wipe you debt completely.
The Catch: These programs require that you claim bankruptcy in order to “wipe out your debt”, though they rarely tell you this upfront. Claiming bankruptcy will ruin your credit for many years. Bad credit can affect where you live, where you work, getting credit or insurances. In addition, you will have to go through a complex process to claim bankruptcy, including paying lawyer fees.
What You Can Do: If you are having trouble paying your creditors, be upfront and honest with them. Ask them to work with you to create a modified payment plan. You could also contact a credit counseling service who will work with you and your creditors to develop a plan for repayment.
The Bait:You receive notification that you have been “pre-qualified” for a low interest loan or credit card – even though other banks have turned you down. All you need to do is pay a processing fee first.
The Catch: Paying in advance for a credit offer is a scam. A legitimate pre-qualified offer still means you have to go through an application process to see if you can get the credit card or loan.
What You Can Do: Don’t pay for a loan or credit card offer. Legitimate lenders won’t
The Bait: You receive a message that a great “investment” opportunity is available to you that promises a high rate of return on your money. Usually you have to act fast to invest and send your money to the “company”. Many times, the investment is to start a new bank or company. Others may be more vague about the investment but reassure you with promise that you will earn a high rate of return.
The Catch: These “investments” are run by crooks, who set up, get “investors” and then shut down quickly before they can be detected. Once you’ve sent your money, it is gone forever, along with the criminal who tricked you.
What You Can Do: Take your time to evaluate your investments. Find several sources of information. Don’t let someone pressure you into immediately investing. Ask an accountant or an investment adviser to review the investment for you
The Bait: People claiming to be business people, officials or surviving spouses of officials in Nigeria, send a message to you saying that their money is tied up temporarily. They offer to transfer lots of money back to you if you help them out this one time. They can be very persuasive and can easily fake documents to make you think that their position is legitimate.
The Catch: The emails are really from crooks who are trying to steal your money or your identity. According to State Department reports, people who have responded to these emails have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered.
What You Can Do: If you receive an email from anyone asking for money, delete it. They are trying to manipulate you and your emotions
How to Report a Scam: Contact the Federal Trade Commission and Maine’s Attorney General. Call your local Secret Service field office. Local field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone directory.
Phishing for information means that someone is trying to trick you into giving out personal information that they will use to steal from you – whether it’s your cash, credit card or your identity. It could come in the form of an email that says you need to reset your online banking password by clicking on a bogus link; or a phone call from someone pretending to be your bank, asking for your social security number.
Avoid the Bait – these methods of communication are a red flag – First Federal Savings will never contact you this way. Protect yourself and hang up the phone. If it doesn’t seem right, give us a call us at (207) 442-8711. You can also report phishing email scams to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Examples of Phishing Messages
You open an email or text, and see a message like this:
“We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”
“During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn’t verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information.”
“Our records indicate that your account was overcharged. You must call us within 7 days to receive your refund.”
The senders are phishing for your information so they can use it to commit fraud.
How to Deal with Phishing Scams
Delete email and text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information (credit card and bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc.). Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email or text.
The messages may appear to be from organizations you do business with – banks, for example. They might threaten to close your account or take other action if you don’t respond.
Don’t reply, and don’t click on links or call phone numbers provided in the message, either. These messages direct you to spoof sites – sites that look real but whose purpose is to steal your information so a scammer can run up bills or commit crimes in your name.
Area codes can mislead, too. Some scammers ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a “refund.” But a local area code doesn’t guarantee that the caller is local.
If you’re concerned about your account or need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card.
Using our mobile phones makes certain tasks easier, such as checking our balance online and viewing transaction, transferring money or using Bill Pay. However, these great devices also make it easier for criminals to steal personal financial information.
Keep yourself protected and keeping your phone secure by following the tips found below.
- Use a PIN to protect your phone. If it gets lost or stolen, whoever finds it won’t be able to use the phone without knowing the PIN. Talk with your phone provider to get instructions on setting up your PIN and don’t share it with anyone!
- Don’t Respond to Unsolicited Texts or Emails. First Federal will never contact you by email or text, asking for personal information. If you receive any text or email from someone claiming to be First Federal, please call us immediately at (207) 442-8711 and delete it from your phone.
- Keep Your Phone Updated. Did you know that your phone is just like a computer? It needs to be updated on a regular basis to ensure that it’s protected from security loop holes and hacking threats. Talk with your phone provider about Anti-Spyware software that can help protect you and your phone.
- Delete Junk Email. If you don’t know the person who sent the email, delete it. Never click on links within emails, as these links could install spyware software on your phone.
Malware & Viruses
Malware (malicious software) and viruses are everywhere on the internet, just waiting for you and your electronic devices. Many viruses are spread through an email that contains a link, which everyone clicks on, because it promises something. Others will automatically install themselves just by going to a website that has the virus hiding somewhere. You may not even know it has happened.
Your first line of defense is keeping your computer up to date. Computer Software companies are continually releasing updates that fix security loopholes and help protect you from outside threats. Set your system to update automatically, so you don’t have to worry.
Your second line of defense is just as important – installing Anti-Virus software and keeping it up to date. Many people think they are safe, just by installing the Anti-Virus software, but if the software is not regularly updated, it’s not fully protecting you. Set your system to update automatically and check it to be sure it’s updating regularly.
Don’t click on links or open attachments in emails. This is a very common way that Viruses and Malware is spread. Don’t forward unnecessary emails to people in your address book.
Don’t click on pop-ups when you are visiting a website. Close pop-ups by clicking the “X” in the title bar.
Backup, Backup, Backup! Keep your computer files protected by scheduling a regular back up. If you are infected, you will still have a copy of your records.
Computers that are infected with Malware may become slow and unresponsive; you may have trouble starting it or shutting it down or it may start popping up messages and websites you haven’t clicked on. If you suspect your computer is infected, contact your local computer company for removal of the Malware and/or viruses.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
How We Protect You
First Federal Savings is committed to keep your personal banking information protected. Our Online Banking systems, use One Time Passcode (OTP). This uses more a Passcode security feature to ensure it is you logging into your personal banking information and not someone else.
OTP is programmed to look at the computer being used and to ask you to Verify Your Identity if the computer is not the one typically used to log in with. Below you will find screen images that walk you through our OTP process.
At the Online Banking Login Screen, you will be asked to enter your User ID and Password.When you click Enter, the system will look at the computer you are logging in from.If it doesn’t match the computer you have previously used to log in, you will be asked to Verify Your Identity using information that you provided during the Online Banking Registration.
If the system does not recognize the device you are using when you log into the Online Banking, you will be asked to Verify Your Identity. The system will ask to contact you by phone or contact you by text message. You will be provided with a security code to enter before you continue.
After your security code has been entered, the system will ask if you would like the computer to register this computer for future use. Click Yes– if this is your personal, private computer.Click No – if the computer you are using is a public computer.
There are many ways you can keep yourself protected while online. Some of the tips are outlined here:
Secure your electronic devices with PINs and Passwords.
Always be sure to lock down your laptop, computer or smartphone with a password and/or PIN. This will stop people from being able to see what’s on your computer or device in case it is stolen or lost. You can also add an additional layer of security by password protecting files that contain personal or sensitive information.
Change your passwords and PINS often and use something that is not easily guessed or hacked.
Do not share your passwords with anyone
Keep your Anti-Virus Updated.
Don’t install an anti-virus program and think you never have to worry about it again. New viruses are created daily and anti-virus companies release updates to their software to protect against these new threats. Be sure your program is configured to update automatically and then be sure to check it every once in a while to ensure your first line of defense is still defending you.
If you get a virus, contact your local computer company or office supply store for assistance in removing the virus.
Be Diligent when Giving an Email Address.
Don’t give your email address out without knowing who you are giving it to. Be sure the company you are dealing with is legitimate and that you know what they will do with any information they collect from you.
Be Careful Browsing on the Web.
Know the sites you are visiting on the web. Be careful not to click on pop-ups, as many times, these contain viruses and spyware that is harmful to you.
Avoid, Detect & Get Rid of Malware.
Keep your computer software up to date and don’t click on any links or open any attachments in emails unless you know what you are opening. Even friends can forward emails that are harmful to your computer, so don’t assume it’s okay just because you know the sender. Block pop ups from appearing on websites by adjusting your web browser settings and don’t download anything from the internet unless you need it and you know where it’s coming from.
If you computer become slow or unresponsive, you may have Malware. If your computer keeps opening up browser windows, over and over again, you are probably infected. See a new toolbar that you didn’t install? It’s possible that you’ve become a victim of Malware. Anything that makes your computer act quirky, could be a sign of Malware; so it’s best to contact your local computer company or office supply store.
Be sure to report any incidences with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting their website at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
Scams To Be Aware Of
Here are some additional scams to be aware of that are listed on the Office of the Maine Attorney General website:
Credit Card Interest Rate Scam
This scam usually begins with an automated phone call. A message will state that the call is coming from a company with a name like “card services”, “card holder services” or “credit card services.” You’ll be told that you can lower your interest rate. The caller then requests your credit card number, social security number or other personal information. Never give out your credit card or bank account information based on an automated phone call.
Many Maine seniors have received phone calls claiming to be from Medicare or from the ‘health office.’ The callers ask for the Mainer by name and appear to be offering seniors some sort of supplemental health insurance or prescription coverage. Never give any personal information to anyone over the phone.
Consumers with questions about Medicare can get more information from the Medicare offices at 1-800-MEDICARE.
An increasingly common scam involves a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild. The scammer will claim that there has been a mishap and money is needed immediately. Never wire money or give out bank info based on a telephone call.
Someone calls you on the phone indicating that they are from the government and that the government wants to give you a government grant. They just need your bank account numbers to deposit the check. Don’t be fooled. The government doesn’t call people to give money away.
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