Security Center

At First Bank & Trust we want you and your money to be safe and secure when you bank with us. Carefully read the information below and make sure you're safe and prepared if you become a victim of any type of fraud. Check back periodically or watch the "News & Events" section on the homepage for fraud and security updates. When you bank with us you can bank with confidence… online, on the phone or in person!

Account Takeover

  1. Account Takeover

    What it is:

    • Account takeover is similar to identity theft.
      • The difference is that the fraudster takes over an active account rather than opening new accounts in the victim’s name. The fraudster has all of the necessary information in order to access the existing account and use it in a fraudulent way.

    How to avoid it:

    • Immediately cease all activity from computer systems that may be compromised. Disconnect the network connections to isolate the system from remote access.
    • Immediately contact your financial institution and request assistance with the following actions:
      • Disable online access to accounts.
      • Change online banking passwords.
      • Open new accounts as appropriate.
      • Request the financial institution's agent review all recent transactions and electronic authorizations on the account.
      • Ensure that no one has requested an address change, title change, or PIN change, or ordered new cards, checks, or other account documents to be sent to another address.
    • Maintain a written chronology of what happened, what was lost, and the steps taken to report the incident to the various agencies, banks, and firms impacted. Be sure to record the date, time, contact telephone number, person spoken to, and any relevant report or reference number and instructions.
    • File a police report and provide the facts and circumstances surrounding the financial loss.
      • Obtain a police report number with the date, time, department, location, and officer's name taking the report or involved in the subsequent investigation.
      • Having a police report on file will often facilitate dealing with insurance companies, banks, and other establishments that may be the recipient of fraudulent activity.
      • The police report may initiate a law enforcement investigation into the loss with the goal of identifying, arresting, and prosecuting the offender and possibly recovering losses.

    This document is for information purposes and is not intended to provide legal advice.

Computer and Online Security Tips

  1. Computer Security

    Computer Security:

    • Keep your software and operating system updated.
    • Keep your firewall turned on.
    • Don’t click on links or pop-ups that appear suspicious.
    • Take extra caution when using public Wi-Fi.
    • Take extra caution when using a public or shared computer.
  2. Email Security

    Email Security:

    • Don’t open attachments, click on links, or respond to emails that come from unknown, suspicious senders.
    • Don’t respond to urgent emails that request personal information.
    • Always log off of your email account when done.
  3. Mobile Security

    Mobile Security:

    • Always put a password on your home screen if it is an option.
    • If selling or purchasing a new phone, always delete all information off the old phone.
    • Don’t store personal information, including IDs and passwords on your mobile device.
    • Keep the operating system updated.
  4. Online Security

    Online Security:

    • Never use your Social Security Number (full or partial) as a user ID or password.
    • Do not use the same user ID and password for multiple sites.
    • Change your passwords regularly.
    • Do not share or write down your passwords.
    • Limit the amount of personal information that is shared through social media sites.
    • Know who your friends are on social media sites. 
    • Don’t click on links that are sent from unknown users through social media.

Debit and Credit Card Tips

  1. Debit and Credit Card

    Unauthorized Debit Card Transactions

    • If you notice an unauthorized debit card transaction on your account, contact First Bank & Trust immediately at 800.843.1552.

    Unauthorized Credit Card Transactions

    • If you notice an unauthorized credit card transaction on your credit card account, contact 1-800-658-3660 immediately.
  2. Secure Travel Tips

    Using your credit and debit cards safely when traveling abroad:

    An important part of your vacation planning process should include consideration of how you will handle money and expenditures on your trip. In most cases, a credit card is the best option when you travel, especially in a foreign country.

    Listed below are guidelines and important steps you can take to prepare for your trip abroad. The list highlights specific information regarding the use of debit cards, credit cards, and currency.

    • Notify your bank of your travel plans. Before you leave, notify your bank, credit card company, or other financial institution that you are traveling abroad and provide them with the specific dates and locations/areas for your travels, as often an unusual change in charging habits or location may result in the fraud department placing restrictions on your account. To contact your credit card company, call the telephone number listed on the back of your card.
    • Consider limiting the cash you carry. Verify and understand the exchange rate before you travel. Avoid carrying cash and consider alternate forms of payment such as credit cards. If you choose to carry cash, carry only enough for one day’s safety net in the event that you run into problems with your credit card.
    • Select appropriate debit and credit cards for your destination. Worldwide, Visa® and MasterCard® are the most widely accepted cards. Carry only the cards you will need with you on your trip and leave the others in a safe place at home. Generally one ATM/debit card for access to cash if needed and one or two credit cards are recommended.
    • Confirm your card limits and expiration dates. Check the expiration dates on your card(s) to make sure they will be useable for the entire trip length. Most cards have daily purchase and cash advance limits. You may wish to confirm these with your bank or card company prior to your departure. Generally these limits can be temporarily adjusted to suit your travel needs.
    • Find out what fees to expect. When you contact your bank or card issuer, ask about their foreign currency exchange or foreign transaction fee(s). Fees generally range from 1%-2%.
    • Confirm contact information for your card issuer. Typically the customer service 800 numbers printed on the back of your card are not good abroad. Thus, when you contact your bank or card issuer, ask for the appropriate telephone number for the region you are traveling to.
    • Backup your critical information. You will want to have a list of your card(s) information and telephone numbers for card issuers in the event they are lost or stolen. Additionally, you should photocopy your passport and airline tickets and keep these in the same place in case those are lost or stolen along with your cards. Keep this separate from your wallet and cards; if you have any secure information on it, you should keep it in a hotel safe or a secure area on the internet that you can safely access. It is also a good idea to leave copies of the front and back of each card, and any other important documents you are carrying, with a trusted friend or close relative back home.
    • Confirm acceptance of your card prior to your purchase. The presence of a card logo on a door, window, or cash register is not a guarantee of acceptance, so it is important to ask prior to committing to the service or meal lest you will be seeking other payment methods.
    • Keep all your receipts. This is a good rule of thumb for all card expenditures, but particularly for those made abroad. If a charge appears later that is inaccurate, you will have the proof available for your dispute. Keep them for several months in the event charges are delayed, which is not unusual with foreign transactions.
    • Treat your plastic as if it was cash. Don't leave it unattended in your luggage or hotel room; store it in your wallet or money belt, and keep these out of view of others while traveling. Beware of pickpocket scams, a common scenario is someone bumping into you and another distracting you while the pickpocket lifts your wallet or grabs a purse.
    • Beware of duplicate charges. This may most often occur when you have used a card to hold a reservation for lodging or car rental, and then you pay the bill in cash instead. As stated above, keep all your receipts whether it is cash or credit to ensure you have proof of payment in the event of this sort of error.

    A few preventative measures will help keep the loss or theft of your wallet a minor annoyance instead of a vacation-halting affair, making your trip a more relaxing and safer adventure. For further travel information safety tips and specific information about the destination you are traveling to, log on to the U.S. Passports & International Travel website:

    First Bank & Trust provides this information as a courtesy because we are concerned about your personal and financial safety during travel. The advice and information contained here is presented for general education purposes and to increase overall travel security awareness. The information provided is intended to be accurate and helpful, but it should not be considered an exhaustive list of personal and financial security protection measures.

  3. Data Breach

    Our first priority has always been to protect our cardholders. After a data compromise, such as the The Home Depot and Target store breaches, we intensify the monitoring of potentially compromised accounts. First Bank & Trust receives notifications from Visa about a potential security breach at a merchant. At that time, we evaluate the type of breach and the details involved to determine the level of risk to our cardholders. If we feel your card is at risk for fraud and needs to be re-issued immediately, we will contact you. Because we are replacing your card, the new card number will protect you from any other security breaches that occurred prior to card replacement.

    What should you do if you believe your card was involved in a merchant data breach?

    • Monitor your account activity daily. The easiest way to monitor your account is to review your activity online. When you receive your monthly and/or online statements, it is important to carefully review them as well. If you see any suspicious activity, call us immediately. If your card is compromised, Visa's Zero Liability policy¹ ensures that you won't be held responsible for fraudulent charges made with your card or account information.

    Protecting your card information:

    For added peace of mind there are some practical steps you, as First Bank & Trust customers, can take to help protect card information:

    • Know where your cards are and keep them secure at all times.
    • Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) a secret.
      • Don’t use any part of your address, birth date, phone number, or social security number.
      • Memorize your PIN; never write it down, especially on the card.
    • Be aware of your surroundings when entering your Personal identification Number (PIN) at an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
    • Use your card only at reputable online merchants.
    • If you receive a call, text, or email requesting your card information to “reactivate” your card, do not provide it; this is most likely a scam.
    • Report lost or stolen cards immediately.
    • Cancel all inactive card accounts. Even when not being used, credit card accounts appear on your credit report, which is accessible to thieves.  If you have requested a new debit or credit card and have not received the card in a timely manner, immediately notify First Bank & Trust.
    • Closely monitor the expiration dates on your cards.  Contact First Bank & Trust if the replacement card is not received prior to your card’s expiration date.
    • Sign all new cards upon receipt.
    • Review your credit reports annually.
      • Consumers are entitled to one free copy of their credit report every year at or by calling 1 (188) 322-8228.

Identity Theft

  1. Are you a victim of identity theft?

    1. Contact First Bank & Trust

    • If you think you are a victim of identity theft, contact First Bank & Trust immediately (800.843.1552) and ask for the Fraud Department.
    • If you believe your accounts have been compromised or opened fraudulently have them closed immediately. When new accounts are opened, always use different passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).

    2. Contact other creditors

    • If you have accounts at other financial institutions, banks or creditors contact them as soon as possible and let them know of potential fraud or identity theft.

    3. Contact the credit bureaus

    • There are three nationwide credit reporting companies that keep your credit history. Contact one of the companies and report that you are a victim of identity theft. You only need to contact one reporting company, which will notify the other two companies.

    Equifax: 800.525.6285           Experian: 888.397.3742           TransUnion: 800.680.7289

    • Request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit file. Placing a fraud alert is free and will stay on your credit report for 90 days.
    • Request a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies, as the information can be different. As a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the 3 credit reporting companies.
    • Review your credit reports for fraudulent activity. If fraud is detected, contact the financial institutions, banks or creditors reporting the fraudulent activity. Also, send a letter to each reporting company explaining the discrepancies you have found.
    • Things to remember:
      • The credit reporting companies may need to contact you so make sure they have your current contact information.
      • Keep all documentation of when you sent letters or made phone calls.
      • The initial fraud alert stays on your report for 90 days. It can be renewed after 90 days.

    4. Submit an “Identity Theft” Compliant with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

    • Contact the FTC’s Identity Theft Helpline: 1-877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338) or submit a complaint online at:
    • Once you submit your complaint, an Identity Theft Complaint Affidavit will generate. Print a copy of the affidavit.

    5. File a police report

    • Contact your local police department and file a report. Creditors may require this as proof of criminal activity.
    • Bring credit reports, statements, collection letters and a copy of the Identity Theft Affidavit submitted with the FTC as supporting documentation.


  1. Advance Fee Scam

    What it is:

    • The “investor” is asked to provide a large fee in advance of receiving anything in return.
    • A promise is made to send money, services, or products.
    • The advance fee is usually noted for processing fees, charges for documents, or taxes.
    • The victim provides the advance funds but will never receive anything in return.

    How to avoid it:

    • Know the person with whom you are dealing.
    • Learn about the company with which you are dealing.
    • Consult your bank or the police if it seems sketchy.
    • Fully understand the agreement before accepting it.
    • Be very skeptical if the business operates only with a PO Box or a mail drop.
    • Be skeptical if you are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
    • Be cautious if asked to use a non-circumvention agreement.
      • This threatens the victim with a lawsuit if they report the situation to law
  2. Affinity Scam

    What it is:

    • Affinity scams target groups of people.
      • Elderly
      • Religious groups
      • Ethnic communities
    • The scam exploits these groups of people’s friendships and trust.
    • Tight-knit groups may not be aware of this scam.
    • Victims typically try to work things out within the group versus reporting to law enforcement.

    How to avoid it:

    • Never rely entirely on recommendations made by friends, associates, or club members.
    • Always do research before investing your money.
    • Know whom and what into which you are investing.
    • Require everything to be documented in writing.
    • Do not let anyone pressure you into quick decisions.
  3. Bank Account Scam

    What it is:

    • You are approached by someone you do not know who requests that you cash a check or make a deposit into your account. A portion of that deposit is to then be sent for a “legitimate” purpose. Once the check is returned to the bank, the funds will debit your account. You will be left without that money plus what you sent out for the “legitimate” purpose.

    How to avoid it:

    • Be suspicious if you are asked to deposit funds or cash a check and immediately wire a portion of those funds.
    • Be suspicious when depositing funds in relation to someone you interacted with only online.
    • Do not accept any payment that is more than the amount of the sale you conducted.
    • Do not accept any sweepstakes that require you to send a portion of the funds back or in advance of receiving funds.
    • Be aware of typos, discrepancies, or spelling errors in email or letter communications.
  4. Business Email Compromise Scam

    How it works:

    The fraudsters target businesses that currently work with foreign suppliers, as well as business that regularly perform wire transfers. The fraudulent wire transfers are sent to numerous foreign banks and may potentially be transferred several times. After the wire transfers are received at the foreign banks, the funds are quickly dispersed in to other accounts. The most common locations of the banks that have been reported thus far are China and Hong Kong. 

    What to do:

    • Be cautious with what is posted on the business’s social media sites. These fraudsters are looking for job duties and descriptions, out of office details, and hierarchal information.
    • Be cautious of any email requests that asks for secrecy and/or pressures you to act quickly.
    • Be cautious of requests to new suppliers and/or vendors.
    • Be cautious when sending foreign wires.
  5. Cashier's Check Scam

    What it is:

    • You sell goods in the marketplace, the buyer sends you a cashier’s check for the price you agreed upon, and then you ship the goods to the buyer.
    • The buyer sends you a cashier’s check for more than the purchase price.
      • Then you are asked to wire a portion, if not all the excess, to a third party (typically a foreign country).
      • The buyer tells you that it is to satisfy its obligations to you and the third party in a single check.
    • You receive a letter informing you that you have the right to a substantial sum of money (examples:  lottery, inheritance).
    • You receive a letter informing you that you have been chosen to be a mystery shopper.
      • You have to deposit the enclosed cashier’s check, use a portion of that money to buy merchandise, and then transfer the rest to a third party.  You will be responsible for any lost funds.

    How to avoid it:

    • Know with whom you are doing business.
    • When you sell goods online, use reputable payment methods.
    • Never accept a check for more than the selling price.
    • If you have concerns about a check you received, contact your bank for assistance.
    • Do not take action until you know the funds are legitimate.
    • Be suspicious if someone insists that you send funds by wire.
    • Be suspicious if someone pressures you to act fast.
    • Reject any offer that asks you to pay for the prize or gift you may have won.
  6. Charity Scam

    What it is:

    • Scammers will use phone, face-to-face, email, social networking sites, and texts to attempt to get donations from you.
    • The scammer may:
      • Pose as a legitimate charity.
      • Lack details and refuse to provide proof of existence.
      • Typically begin the conversation thanking you for your past donations.
      • Guarantee a sweepstakes winning once you provide a donation.

    How to avoid it:

    • Ask detailed information:
      • Identity, mission, how the donation will be distributed, what the costs are, contact information, and name.
    • Do not give a donation without knowing with whom you’re working.
      • Hang up and then contact that charity directly.
      • Research the charity online.
    • Watch for the charities that offer to give you a high return if you donate.
    • Never send cash donations.
    • Never send wire donations.
    • Be suspicious of new charities.
    • Do not text to donate to an unknown sender.
      • This will result in a charge on your cell phone bill. 
      • To have that blocked going forward, that will cost you more.
  7. Credit Report Scam

    What it is:

    • Fraudulent websites offer to provide free credit reports OR free credit monitoring. However, only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit reports each person is entitled to under law: Do not fall for other websites.
      • The fraudulent free product is most likely going to come with strings attached.

    How to avoid it:

    • Only use
    • Do not use sites that use these terms:
      • Free Report
      • Free Credit Report
      • Free Credit Scores
      • Free Credit Monitoring
  8. Elder Abuse Scam

    What it is:

    • Financial Elder Abuse is the illegal or improper use of an elderly (65 and older) person's funds, property, or resources.
    • Exploitation is the illegal or improper act or process of a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the elderly or disabled person and using the resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain without the informed consent of the elderly or disabled person.

    Indicators of elder abuse:

    • Behavioral Signs
      • Fear
      • Anxiety, agitation
      • Anger
      • Isolation, withdrawal
      • Depression
      • Non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence
      • Contradictory statements, implausible stories
      • Hesitation to talk openly
      • Confusion or disorientation
    • Signs of Financial Abuse:
      • Frequent expensive gifts from elder to caregiver
      • Elder's personal belongings, papers, or credit cards missing
      • Numerous unpaid bills
      • A recent will when elder seems incapable of writing a will
      • Caregiver's name added to bank account
      • Elder unaware of monthly income
      • Elder signs on loan
      • Frequent checks made out to "cash"
      • Unusual activity in bank account
      • Irregularities on tax return
      • Elder unaware of reason for appointment with banker or attorney
      • Caregiver's refusal to spend money on elder
      • Signatures on checks or legal documents that do not resemble elder's

    Prevent elder abuse:

    • Look for:
      • Sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters
      • Sudden, atypical, or unexplained withdrawals, wire transfers, or other changes in their financial situations
      • Utility or other bills not being paid
      • New best friends and "sweethearts"
      • Onset or worsening of illnesses or disability
      • Behavioral changes, such as fear or submissiveness, social isolation, withdrawn behavior, disheveled appearance, and forgetfulness
      • Changes in the will, especially when the elder might not fully understand the implications
      • Sudden increase in spending by elder’s family or friends
      • Transfer of title of home or other assets to another person for no apparent reason
      • Large, frequent "gifts" given to a caregiver
      • Personal belongings are missing
      • Large, unexplained loans taken out by an elder

    Top three offenders of elder abuse:

    • Adult children
    • Grandchildren
    • Other relatives

    How to avoid it:

    • Stay socially active
    • Document financial arrangements
    • Do not give away property
    • Get to know your banker, attorney, and financial consultant
    • Be cautious of joint accounts
    • Include a compensation clause in any power of attorney
  9. Grandparent Scam

    What it is:

    • A grandparent receives an urgent phone call from a caller claiming to be a grandchild in trouble and asking the grandparent to wire money.

    What to watch for:

    • A caller claiming to be your grandchild or a law enforcement official stating that your relative is in trouble
      • The fraudster says money is needed ASAP to get out of jail, repair a broken-down vehicle, pay lawyer fees, get home, etc.
    • The caller not knowing your grandchild’s name
      • The caller may try to trick you into revealing your grandchild's name.
    • Unrecognized voice
    • Caller ID
      • What area code is the call coming from?
      • Most grandkids have cell phones.  Do you recognize the number?

    How to avoid it:

    • Know your grandchild’s travel plans, and have your grandchild provide contact information.
    • Do not let emotions take control of the conversation.
    • If someone calls claiming to be your grandchild, let them know you will call them back.
      • Hang up, and then dial your grandchild directly to see if the situation is legitimate.
      • If your grandchild does not answer, call another family member who would know where your grandchild is currently.
    • Ask the caller questions that only your grandchild would be able to answer.
    • Never provide any account information to someone calling you, regardless of who they say they are.
  10. Healthcare Scam

    What it is:

    • You get billed for health-care services you did not receive.
      • Examples: fake tests performed at health clubs or shopping malls
    • Criminals use your insurance or personal information to receive medical treatment and/or prescriptions.
    • There are no protections with this scam for the consumer like there can be for bank fraud.
      • Victims have to pay for the fraudulent charges.
      • Victims can lose the health insurance or pay larger premiums to reestablish the insurance.

    How to avoid it:

    • Do not sign blank insurance claim forms.
    • Keep detailed and accurate records of all health-care appointments.
    • Know what your physician ordered for you.
    • Provide your insurance information to medical providers only when you receive service.
    • Always ask what the expected charges will be. 
    • Do not accept door sales or telephone sales that offer you medical services or equipment.
  11. Internet Scam

    What it is:

    • Internet Auction Fraud
      • Know how the auction works beforehand.
      • Research what happens if a problem occurs.
      • Use extreme caution when dealing with sellers outside the U.S.
      • Never give out your social security number or driver’s license number.
    • Non-Delivery of Merchandise
      • Use only reputable and legitimate sources.
    • Email Scams
      • Chain letters, bulk email solicitations, credit repairs, diet offers, free vacations, investment opportunities, online dating, and guaranteed loans.
      • Just delete the email!

    How to avoid it:

    • Do not judge websites based on their image.
    • Do research on the site.
    • Do not provide your information until you are sure it is safe.
    • Be cautious when working with vendors outside the country.
    • Check with the Better Business Bureau for information about that seller.
  12. Lottery Scam

    What it is:

    • A notification by mail, email, or phone that you have won a lottery.
    • This notification indicates you must transfer money in order to claim the proceeds and prove your identity.

    How to avoid it:

    • Things to ask yourself:
      • Did you buy the ticket?
      • Did you enter the lottery/sweepstakes?
      • What is the name of the lottery?
      • Is it outside the country?
      • Does the notification state your email address won the lottery?
    • If you did not enter the lottery/sweepstakes, avoid any temptation to answer the claim that states you did.
  13. Mystery Shopper Scam

    What it is:

    • It begins when you get an email offering “secret shopper” jobs with retailers like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Best Buy, or Home Depot. If you click through to the website, it looks like you’re on a retailer’s site – but you’re not. You’re asked to provide some personal information to get started, and you’re told you’ll soon get a cashier’s check for around $1,500. You’re instructed to deposit the check into your account to “activate” your employment, keep $300 of that money as “advance payment” to cover initial expenses, and wire back the rest.

    How to avoid it:

    • Do plenty of research before committing to a secret shopper job.
    • Legitimate secret shopper jobs are posted online by reputable marketing research or merchandising companies.
      • Search online for scams using that company name.
    • Never wire money to someone you do not know.
      • Once you send the wire, you will not get it back.
    • Never agree to deposit a check from someone you do not know.
      • If it is fake and bounces, you will be responsible for any money owed from the bad check.
    • Never give out your personal or financial information online.
      • Guard your personal information and treat it as if it were cash.
      • Avoid entering your social security number, bank number, and credit card numbers online.
      • Never give your personal or financial information to anyone who calls you.
  14. Nigerian Letter or "419" Scam

    What it is:

    • You are told that someone from another country needs your help, and you are to send that person an advance fee. You are told that in return, a large amount will be deposited into your account. In reality, you will never see any money in return.
    • The Nigerian Scam takes on many faces.
    • If you have to send money to get money, it is a scam.

    How to avoid it:

    • If you receive a letter from Nigeria asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner.
      • Send the letter to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
      • You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.
    • If you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible.
    • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
    • Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
    • Guard your account information carefully.
  15. Newspaper Subscription Scam

    What it is:

    • You get a renewal notice in the mail for your newspaper. The notice says your subscription is about to expire, but you can renew it by paying immediately. The problem is, the company behind the invoice has no relationship with your newspaper publisher or billing department. These scammers are simply out to rip you off.

    How to avoid it:

    • Pay online at the newspaper’s website or contact the newspaper directly by phone.
      • Use the number on your newspaper, online, or on a previous bill.
    • Sign up for auto renewal and/or payments.
    • Be aware of changes to your bill.
      • If the price changes, contact the company directly to inquire.
    • If you have any doubt in the legitimacy of the bill, contact the company directly.
      • Be aware of spelling errors or poor grammar.
  16. Phishing Scam

    What it is:

    • Phishing is the fraudulent act of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as account logins, bank account information, and credit or debit card numbers.

    Variations of Phishing:

    • In order to keep your information secure, please be aware of the following, which are variations of phishing schemes and can be cleverly devised to entice you to respond with sensitive information:
      • Fraudulent Emails
      • Telephone or Voice Phishing (sometimes called Vishing)
      • Text Message Phishing (sometimes called Smishing)
      • Spoof Websites
      • Pop-up Windows

    How to avoid it:

    • Do not open e-mails that are unsolicited; if you do open the e-mail, do not click on any links or open any attachments.
    • Do not give sensitive, personal information over the phone.
    • Do not respond to text messages asking for sensitive, personal information.
    • Always know that the bank will never call you to ask you to confirm your account number, social security number, or credit/debit card information.
  17. Vacation Property Rental Scam

    What it is:

    • A scammer advertises properties online that are fictitious or, if the property does exist, the scammer is not the owner of the property. The scammer then gets the victim to wire money or pay upfront using payment methods like PayPal in order to lease the property.

    How to avoid it:

    • If the property that is being considered requires payment upfront via Green Dot cards, MoneyGram, Western Union, PayPal, or any other wiring method, it may be a scam.
    • If an email is received pressuring the decisions be made now, ignore it and move on. 
    • If the property is way below market value, use extreme caution.
      • Scammers will try to attract people by offering low prices. 
    • Always get a copy of the contract before any money is exchanged. 
    • Ensure that the property is real by doing research prior to committing.
  18. Virtual Kidnapping Scam

    What it is:

    • This scam can include accomplices in tourist hotels, telemarketing-style cold calls, money handlers, and phone techniques such as three-way calls. 
    • The fraudster makes the victim feel that someone close to him/her has been “kidnapped” and then demands that a ransom be paid in order to get the “kidnapped” individual back.
      • There may be screaming or other noises in the background that sound like the individual really has been kidnapped.

    How to avoid it:

    • For fraudsters, the success of virtual kidnapping depends on speed and fear. The fraudster knows there is only a short time frame to get ransom payment before the victim and the families involved unravel the scam or include authorities. 
    • Watch for the following:
      • Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone, insisting you remain on the line.
      • Calls do not come from the victim’s phone.
      • Callers try to prevent you from contacting the “kidnapped” victim.
      • Multiple successive phone calls.
      • Incoming calls made from an outside area code.
      • Demands for ransom money to be paid via wire transfer.
      • Ransom demands may drop quickly.

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