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Cyber Crime

Cyber crime includes more than fraudulent e-mail messages and fake websites that allow criminals to take your money. A cyber crime may involve tactics using ransomware, where criminals lock you out of your files until they receive a ransom, or phony phone calls, such as criminals pretending to represent a tech support company so they can get your information.

Protect yourself from a range of cyber crimes by taking these precautions:

  • Use a firewall to protect your computer

  • Encrypt your home Wi-Fi network

  • Backup your files regularly

  • Create strong passwords and share them only when necessary

  • Don't respond to spam emails

  • Download with caution

  • Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent activity

  • Don't visit suspicious websites or follow links to sources you don't trust

  • Keep your computer current by updating antivirus software, antispyware, operating system, and system patches

  • Don't share your personal information with sources you don't trust, especially pop-ups

  • Have different passwords for work related and non-work related accounts

  • When you're not using your computer, turn it off

  • Don't give control of your computer to an unauthorized third party

The Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains a list of Cyber Crime Stories. Be aware of the latest cyber scams by checking this list and searching the Internet for the most recent cyber scams.

If you are a target of cyber crime, contact your financial institution immediately. Then, report the crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) a joint government collaboration. The IC3 links complaints together to refer them for case consideration. It also uses data to identify emerging trends and patterns.

Government Imposter Scams

Scammers sometimes pretend to be government officials to get you to send them money. They might promise lottery winnings if you pay "taxes" or other fees, or they might threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit if you don't pay a supposed debt. Regardless of their tactics, their goal is the same: to get you to send them money.

Don't do it. Federal government agencies and federal employees don't ask people to send money for prizes or unpaid loans. Nor are they permitted to ask you to wire money or add money to a prepaid debit card to pay for anything.

Before you get caught in this type of scam, look for indicators:

  • You've "Won" a Lottery or Sweepstakes - Someone claiming to be a government official calls, telling you that you've won a federally supervised lottery or sweepstakes

  • You Owe a Fake Debt - You might get a call or an official-looking letter that has your correct name, address and Social Security number. Often, fake debt collectors say they're with a law firm or a government agency - for example, the FTC, the IRS or a sheriff's office. Then, they threaten to arrest you or take you to court if you don't pay on a debt you supposedly owe

Five Ways to Beat a Government Imposter Scam:

  1. Don't wire money

  2. Don't pay for a prize

  3. Don't give the caller your financial or other personal information

  4. Don't trust a name or number

  5. Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Register your phone number at

New Financial-Transaction Technologies

EMV Cards

EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard, and Visa) cards are emerging in the US. This new technology, which was developed by EuroPay, MasterCard, and Visa, uses microprocessor chips to authenticate point-of-sale purchases. Cards that have these chips use dynamic authentication, a process that changes authentication data on your card each time you use it. Dynamic authentication is more secure than magnetic swipe cards, which we currently use in the US, since magnetic swipe cards use verification data that stays the same each time you use your card.

Mobile Banking

Soon more consumers may access their accounts through mobile banking than through online banking, and more financial transactions already happen through mobile than online banking. Some consumers who don't plan to use online tools to access their financial accounts are now asking for mobile-only account access.

Picture Pay

Picture Pay is a new financial transaction tool that, in some institutions, is surpassing mobile bill pay usage. With this tool, you take a picture of a bill, confirm the payment amount, submit it to your financial institution, and your financial institution pays the merchant. While online bill pay requires setting up payee information online, Picture Pay requires less effort from the consumer.

Online Wallets

This mobile tool provides retail, point-of-sale (POS) transactions, where a mobile phone replaces plastic-card transactions at in-person purchases. It can also house your company credit and loyalty points. While some see this as an up-and-coming tool, others see significant hurdles blocking the way of this new financial transaction option. The success of this mobile tool hinges on retailers: if they adopt the proper technology to enable these POS transactions, this technology will grow rapidly.


Some experts in the financial industry believe biometrics will become mainstream by 2016 and mobile payments will take off when this happens. Now that the market sells fingerprint identification technology, which uses fingerprints to authenticate users, experts see biometrics on the rise. Authentication tools could use the face, retina, iris, hand geometry and voice, among other biometrics, to verify a user.

Phishing, SMishing & Vishing


What is 'Phishing'?

phishing ( pp. Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information.

Tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And don't click on the link in the message, either.Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address yourself. In any case, don't cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser - phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different site.

  • Use anti-virus software and a firewall, and keep them up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge.

Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.

A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Operating systems (like Windows or Linux) or browsers (like Internet Explorer or Netscape) also may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.

  • Don't email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.

  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.

  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer's security.

  • Forward spam that is phishing for information to and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems.

  • If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at , and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft website at Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft. While you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these new accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You may catch an incident early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the three major credit bureaus. See for details on ordering a free annual credit report.

To learn more about the latest phishing scams visit


Phishing via SMS, or SMishing, uses cell phone text messages or SMS (Short Message Service) to trick you into providing personal and financial information. Smishers may use URLs or an automated voice response system to try and collect your information.

Tip: In some instances, criminals have used malicious software in their text messages solicitations. To prevent further security issues, completely remove unsolicited text messages from your phone. This may take two steps: deleting the text and then completely removing it from your device.


Phishing by voice, or vishing, exploits a general trust in landline telephone services. The victim is often unaware that voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows for caller ID spoofing, thus providing anonymity for the criminal caller. Rather than providing any information make the words providing any information to the caller, the consumer should verify the call by contacting the financial institution or credit card company directly, being sure to use the institution's accurate contact information (i.e., do not use contact information the caller provides).

Scams Targeting Older Adults

The elderly are the fastest growing segment of our society and they are also an important part of our country's economy. America's growing older adults population is uniquely vulnerable to a broad range of exploitation and abuse. Financial crimes in particular are targeted at older adults with alarming frequency, and are all too often successful.
Learn More.

Tax Fraud

Once a cybercriminal has your name and Social Security number, he or she can file a tax return in your name by making up financial information that generates a large refund. Since the IRS doesn't require W-2 forms when you file electronically, cyber criminals can commit electronic tax-refund fraud easier than paper tax fraud, especially since electronic tax-refund fraud is straightforward and hard to detect.

Tip: Be extremely protective of your personal information, and only share it with trusted sources, especially when using the Internet. Often, tax fraudsters will obtain your information through e-mail phishing, social engineering tactics, the black market, and other sources.

Tax identity thieves may use your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. You take steps to protect your personal information by not opening unrecognized emails and shredding important documents. But, do you know how to recognize and prevent from becoming a victim of tax identity theft?

Preventing Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when your personal information is stolen or used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. It can cost you time and money and destroy your credit.

To safeguard your personal information, you should:

  • Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before discarding them

  • Sign up for online statements when possible. Paper statements can be stolen from your mailbox

  • Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card or write your Social Security number on a check

  • Be very careful about giving out any personal information on the phone

  • Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails

  • Use firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software to protect your computers

  • Don't use an obvious password such as your birthday or the last four digits of your Social Security number

  • Inspect your credit report and financial/billing statements regularly. Look for new accounts you did not open or charges you did not make. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit reporting agencies each year. Contact the Annual Credit Report Request Service, a service created by the three companies, by visiting or calling 1-877-322-8228 to order your free credit report.

If you suspect you've been a victim of Identity theft, you should:

  • Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports and review the reports carefully. A call to one of the three major credit reporting agencies is recommended.




1-800-EXPERIAN (1-800-397-3742)



  • Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently

  • File a police report

  • Report the theft to law enforcement such as the Internet Crime Complaint Center at or the Federal Trade Commission at

Quick Tips for Financial Safety Online

Keep Your Transactions Secure. The Internet is a public network. Therefore, it is important to learn how to safeguard your credit union account information, credit card numbers, Social Security number and other personal data.

Secure Your Computer. Clicking on the wrong link can leave you open to scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Learn experts' top tips for how to protect your information and your computer while online.

Think Before You Click. Receive an email claiming you can get a very low interest rate on a mortgage if you just click on the link? See an ad on a website that promises you can erase a negative credit score with just one click? Following suspect links like these can lead to a website with a virus designed to steal your information.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.