COMMON FRAUD SCHEMESMore Info & Help
Phishing: This online scam is designed to steal personal financial information from customers through fake email messages intended to look like they are from a reputable business, frequently a bank. Some of the biggest and best-known banks in the country have had their websites impersonated. The emails typically warn recipients about a possible security breach and ask them to "confirm" their account information immediately. Unsuspecting customers who respond are directed to a website, where they are asked to provide confidential personal and financial information. This information is then collected and used by the criminal to gain access to the unsuspecting customer's accounts.
Spear Phishing: This occurs when a criminal, who already has some specific information regarding a customer's account, will email that customer directly requesting more precise information. The customer, under the impression that the communication is legitimate since personal information is already being provided in the fraudulent email, assumes that it is safe to provide the information requested.
Pretext Calling: Pretext calling involves obtaining your personal information under false pretenses. Criminals use a variety of tactics to get your personal information. A pretexter may call and ask you for your name, address, birth date, and social security number. When the pretexter has the information he wants, he uses it to call your financial institution and pretends to be you or someone with authorized access to your account.
Vishing: Known as "Voice Phishing"; this scam differs from regular phishing as the victim is provided a telephone number to call in order to update, unlock, or renew their account. When the telephone number is dialed, the user will then be prompted to submit information such as an account number, card number, social security number, etc.
Text Message Fraud: Identity thieves send text messages to your cell phone claiming to be from legitimate financial institutions. These messages often claim that a service of yours has expired and you are provided either a telephone number to call or an internet link to click on for renewal. When you respond, you are asked to provide your personal or financial information so that the identity thief can obtain this information from you.
Gift Card Scam: Thieves copy down the serial numbers from the back of gift cards on display in retail stores. The thief checks with the store repeatedly to see if that particular card has been bought yet. Once the compromised card is purchased the thief can use the activated number more quickly than the person who is waiting to receive the card as a gift.
Skimming: This involves the theft of credit card information used in an otherwise legitimate transaction such as at a restaurant or merchant. The thief steals your credit card number by using a special storage device when processing your card.
Pharming: A hacker will redirect a website's traffic to another, fraudulent website. In this instance, a user may open an unsolicited email attachment which launches a program that will run undetected on their computer. The next time the user believes they are visiting a legitimate website they may actually be redirected to a fraudulent site where a hacker can gain access to their private information.
Social Engineering: This often occurs in a workplace that houses private information. In this case, an intruder will call up and imitate someone of authority and gradually pull confidential information out of that employee. The employee grants the caller's request due to the belief that caller is who they say they are and as a result a complete stranger just obtained private information that they have no right to. This may also occur when a criminal "piggybacks" their way into a building or area they are not permitted access too.
Stealing: While many scams today occur online, thieves still attempt to steal wallets, purses, mail, etc. in hope to not only obtain quick monetary gain but to also obtain your personal identifying information. By stealing your mail, a thief may have access to items such as bank and credit card statements as well as pre-approved credit offers.
Changing Your Address: Thieves may divert your billing statements to a different location by completing a "change of address" form. Therefore, instead of you receiving documents at your residence containing your private information, a complete stranger obtains this information.
Jury Duty Fraud: Individuals identifying themselves as U.S. court employees have been contacting citizens by phone and advising them that they have been selected for jury duty. The victim is asked to verify their name, social security number and credit card number. If the request is refused the victim is threatened with fines.
Telemarketing Fraud: Thieves will call you soliciting products, services, charities, etc. and ask you to send money or provide your credit card information. When you send money to people you don't know you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud.
Advance Fee Scheme: This type of fraud occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value, such as a loan, investment, or gift, then receives little or nothing in return.
"419" Fraud: This type of mail fraud is an advance fee scheme in which a letter, mailed from Nigeria, offers the recipient the "opportunity" to share in a substantial cash reward that the author is trying to transfer illegally out of his country. The author urges the recipient to send money in several installments with the lure of a reward later one. These letters have also been received via email.
Letter of Credit Fraud: Legitimate letters of credit are never sold or offered as investments. Some criminals attempt to offer a letter of credit as an investment wherein the investor is promised huge interest rates of 100 to 300 percent on their return. Such investment "opportunities" do not exist.
Prime Bank Note Fraud: International criminals sometimes offer an investment scheme that offers extremely high yields in a relatively short period of time. The purpose of these schemes is to encourage the victim to send money to a foreign bank where it is eventually transferred to an off-shore account that is in control of the criminal.
Internet Auction Fraud: Many of these cases involve straightforward scams where consumers allegedly "won" the bid for merchandise through an Internet auction Web site, sent in their money, but never received the merchandise.
Dumpster Diving: Criminals "dive" through trash cans, dumpsters, etc. in an attempt to find paper documents that contain your personal identifying information.
Lottery Fraud: This scam occurs when you are informed you have won a lottery or sweepstakes you did not enter. The criminals will send you a check as an advance to pay taxes and fees in order to collect the prize. The “winner” is then asked to cash the check and send or wire money back. These checks are counterfeit.
Do not respond to notifications that you have won a lottery or sweepstakes that you did not enter. Do not send or wire money to collect a prize. If you have to pay, it is a scam.
Classified Advertisement Fraud: This type of fraud commonly occurs when selling items online. Criminals will send you a counterfeit check often for an amount greater than the asking price of the item and ask that you wire back the difference. The checks are counterfeit. Do not accept checks for payment in amounts over the selling price of your item. Do not cash checks you received in order to send or wire money back to the sender or anyone else.
Work at Home Schemes: These scams can be difficult to identify, as many legitimate work at home opportunities exist. As part of these fraud schemes, criminals may post fictitious job opportunities online or respond to your post. The criminal will send the new “employee” a counterfeit check along with instructions to cash the check and send or wire a portion of the funds back. Do not accept checks for work-at-home, mystery shopper and other online job opportunities which contain instructions to wire funds back to the sender or anyone else. Do not cash checks to purchase and send other instruments such as Postal Money Orders or prepaid debit cards.
Online Friendship Scams: Criminals will create a fake identity, develop an online “relationship” over a several month period and request money to be sent, often overseas. Be wary of an online acquaintance who asks you to wire money to help in an “urgent business matter” or “personal emergency.” Do not process checks or electronic transactions through your account for someone else or release your online banking sign-on credentials to anyone.
If you believe you have been victimized by identity theft, we can help. Stop by any Valley National Bank office, contact us online or call our toll free Customer Service Department at 1-800-522-4100.