Fraud & Identity Theft Protection Tips
Be Informed...It's The Best Way To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft.
The security of your private information is very important to us. The Bank of Georgia will never provide your confidential information to any source not affiliated with the bank. We will also never ask you for personal information through email.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, address, Social Security number (SSN), bank or credit card account numbers, passwords, or other personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. While online banking and e-commerce are very safe with built-in security features for your protection, to avoid identity theft you should always be careful about responding to unsolicited requests for your personal financial information via the internet, email, phone or mail.
Be Informed. Don't get "Phished."
One of the most common forms of stealing your banking account information is through a process called "Phishing." (pronounced "fishing"). This scam is a form of identity theft where fraudsters use email to steal your personal information. By obtaining this information they can gain access to your accounts, steal your identity, or commit other illegal acts.
Phishing works by creating a phony email or website that appears to be legitimate, thereby providing potential victims with a false sense of security. They trick the recipient into providing sensitive information, which may later be used to commit fraud.
What does a phishing email look like?
The nature of phishing schemes has evolved and is likely to continue to do so in the future. Currently, email phishing is best described by the following characteristics:
- Emails using company logos and familiar language reporting a problem and asking you to update your account information by prompting a return email or by filling out a website form.
- Emails with attachments asking you to install software so that fraudsters can use it to record your keystrokes (called Keystroke Logging) and online activity.
- Emails that contain typographical or grammatical errors. Spelling errors allow fraudsters to bypass spam filters used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
- Windows that pop up over a legitimate company's website asking you to enter personal information.
Remember: The Bank of Georgia will never ask for private information by email or unsecured website.
What should I do if I receive a suspicious email?
If you receive an email that you believe could be fraudulent, do not click on any of the links and do not call any phone numbers listed from the email. Immediately contact the bank for assistance.
How do I protect myself from phishing attacks?
- If you are at all in doubt about the authenticity of the communication, contact the company through familiar communication channels.
- Do not click on a link in an email when you are not sure of its legitimacy, even if it looks genuine. If you are at all in doubt, contact the company directly.
- Make sure you do not enter any personal information on a non-secure website. Look for the "s" in the websites address "https://" to be assured it is a secure website.
- Avoid emailing personal and financial information. Do not answer emails or letters in which people ask for your user ID, password, account number, social security number, credit card number, etc. Even if the email is coming from a well-known source, it does not mean it cannot be intercepted in sending. Remember that the bank will never ask for that information from you over email or by mail.
- Never open email attachments from unknown sources and delete the email in question immediately. Delete any emails from unknown sources as they may have a virus attached that will be downloaded to your computer if the email is opened.
- Regularly review your account statements.
- Alert The Bank of Georgia immediately at 770-631-9488.
- Don't call any phone numbers appearing on the email.
- Do not share IDs/user names and passwords.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Install the latest anti-virus and firewall applications to your computer.
- Update your anti-virus software OFTEN.
- Run a full scan of your computer as often as possible.
- If a virus is detected, delete it from your computer immediately. Depending on the type of virus, follow any additional instructions your virus protection program may give you to make sure your information has not been compromised, such as changing your passwords.
- Make sure your spam filter is turned on to reduce the amount of fraudulent emails in your email inbox.
- Follow your computer manufacturer's recommendations to ensure that your computer is current on its patches.
Even though the laws are on your side, it's wise to take an active role in protecting your information.
What is a firewall?
A firewall (or internet firewall) helps make your computer invisible to online attackers and some malicious software such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. A firewall can also help prevent software on your computer from accessing the internet to accept updates and modification without your permission. Firewalls come in both software and hardware form, but hardware firewalls are intended for use in addition to a software firewall. It is important to have both a firewall and antivirus software turned on before you connect to the internet.
What is antivirus software?
Antivirus software helps protect your computer against specific viruses and related malicious software, such as worms and Trojan horses. Antivirus software must be kept up to date. These updates are generally available through a subscription from your antivirus vendor. It is important to have both antivirus software and a firewall turned on before you connect to the internet.
What is pharming?
Pharming is similar to phishing, but rather than spamming you with email requests, pharming redirects your Web browser to a fraudulent website. Unlike phishing, you do not have to click an email link to be directed to a spoof website.
How can I protect myself from pharming?
Antivirus software and spyware removal software cannot protect against pharming. In order to remove pharming as a threat, websites that deliver or request private information such as internet banking need to add another layer of authentication to their log in process.
For your protection, financial institutions are adding another layer of authentication to secure your online banking information. Our new system verifies your identity in two ways. Every time you log in to internet banking the bank identifies you, and it let's you identify the bank. This is the best method of protecting your online information from phishing and pharming. Look for other industries and online retailers to offer similar secure login procedures in the near future.
What is vishing?
Vishing (or phone phishing) are attacks in which bank customers are contacted by email or sometimes automated phone call and told that their checking account has been compromised. Instead of being referred to a website (as in phishing scams), customers are urged to call a local or toll-free number and provide their account information or their Social Security number to clear up the problem.
How can I protect myself from vishing?
- Do not call numbers listed in any email. As an added precaution, do not disclose personal or financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- Credit Card Fraud is very common in the United States and according to the Federal Trade Commission; around half of the credit card fraud today is conducted online. There are many different methods in which a criminal can acquire and use a victim's credit card.
- A stolen card can be used online as well as in a public setting, especially at gas stations where no identification verification is used.
- If a criminal is able to gain access to your personal information, they can use a method called account takeover fraud where they call your credit card company and have information related to you and the card changed. For instance, they may change the address the statements are sent to so you will not receive any sort of notice of the fraudulent activity on your account.
- A thief can also steal credit card offers out of your mailbox and set up the credit card as their own using your personal information.
- Your liability for fraudulent activity depends on how quickly the loss is reported. You risk unlimited loss by failing to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after you receive your bank statement containing the unauthorized transaction(s).
Check/ATM Card Fraud
Check Card or ATM card fraud occurs using many of the same methods as with credit cards. Some other methods of acquiring information on a check card or ATM card is when a personal identification number, a.k.a. PIN number, is willingly given out to a friend in which they in turn use that information for personal gain. If your check card or ATM card issued by The Bank of Georgia is believed to be lost or stolen, please contact us immediately at 770-631-9488. If it is after hours or on a non-business day or holiday, please call 1-800-554-8969.
How to Protect Myself from Card Fraud
- Review statements monthly for any fraudulent activity. If you find any fraudulent activity, report it to your card provider immediately.
- After comparing your receipts to your statements, make sure to shred the receipts.
- In case of a stolen or lost card, keep a list of your credit card providers, account numbers, expiration dates and their contact information in a secure location, like a safe deposit box or a home safe. This speeds up the process of reporting any fraudulent card activity and will reduce the amount of liability incurred.
- Sign new cards immediately when they arrive
- Memorize your PIN (personal identification number). Do NOT write it down.
- Shield your hand when entering your PIN number at an ATM machine or when making a purchase.
- Destroy any carbons from a processed transaction.
Mail fraud is committed when the perpetrator steals or intercepts pieces of mail before it arrives at its intended recipient. As previously mentioned, credit cards can be ordered in the intended recipients name by the fraudster. If checks are mailed to the customer, they can be stolen out of the mailbox and used to make bogus purchases.
How to Protect Myself from Mail Fraud
- Consider enrolling in secure electronic statements and billing, also called e-statements and e-bills.
- Consider using electronic bill pay, also known as online billpay or webpay, most of which have receiving e-bills as a feature.
- Do not leave incoming mail lying around that may have account number(s) or personal information on them.
- Shred all junk mail before discarding to limit criminals from gaining personal information and/or credit card offers.
- Review your credit report at least annually. You may receive two free credit reports a year in Georgia.
- Shred all documents that contain any personal information
- Place your mail in an official post office mailbox versus placing any outgoing mail in your mailbox where it could be stolen.
- Do not write any personal information on mail such as your social security number or driver's license number.
Helpful Hints and Websites
If you become a victim of identity theft:
- Report the theft to the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion Corporation. Request they place a fraud alert and a victim's statement in your file. Request a free copy of your credit report to check whether any accounts were opened without your consent.
- Request that the agencies remove inquiries and/or fraudulent accounts stemming from the theft. Click on the following links to each reporting agency for additional information.
Equifax - 1-888-766-0008
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
- Notify your bank(s) and ask them to flag your account and contact you regarding any unusual activity. Bank of Georgia: 770-631-9488
- If bank accounts were opened without your consent, close them.
- If your check card or ATM card is lost or stolen, contact the issuing bank, have the card closed and order a new card with a new card number and PIN.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency to file a criminal report.
- Contact the Social Security Administration's fraud hotline to report the unauthorized use of your personal identification information.
- Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your identity theft. Check to see if any unauthorized license numbers have been issued in your name.
- Notify the passport office to watch for anyone ordering a passport in your name.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or visit their website for additional information at http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.
- File a complaint with the internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC) by visiting their website at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. For victims of internet fraud, ICCC provides a convenient and easy reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations.
- Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak with regarding the incident. Follow up your calls with letters. Keep copies of all correspondence.
- Report any suspicious looking emails claiming to be from The Bank of Georgia to us immediately. We continually monitor such reports and act on them promptly.