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Different Types of Identity Theft & Fraud

Identity theft and financial fraud are terms used to describe crimes in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data or financial information, typically for economic gain.  This year alone, identity theft and fraud relating to electronic payments such as ATM/debit transactions and online purchase will strike millions of Americans.

Many people do not realize how easily criminals can obtain personal data.  For example, in public places criminals may listen in on your conversation or watch you from a nearby location as you punch in an account number or password.  They may gain information about you by stealing unopened mail or sifting through documents that you have thrown away.  In recent years, the Internet has opened the door to a variety of means for criminals to obtain your personal data.

To minimize the chances that you fall victim to identify theft and financial fraud, it is vital that you recognize the various types of fraud and learn how to protect yourself against them.  Below are the most common types:

Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when your personal information is obtained and used to acquire new bank or credit card accounts, secure loans, establish utility service, get a home mortgage or even commit a crime.  Such information may include your address and phone number as well as more private information such as  your Social Security number, bank or loan account numbers, user names and passwords, etc.  One of the most popular way criminals steal your identity is by obtaining your personal information from old statements, mail or even your trash.  Many experts recommend that you always shred sensitive documents before disposing of them.  FMB offers both a Spring and a Fall Shred day twice a year and is offered to the community FREE of charge!

Phishing is a scheme used by fraudsters- posing as a trusted financial institution, ATM/Debit network, credit card company, online retailer or other service provider- to trick unsuspecting individuals into disclosing personal and/or financial information.  Typically, you receive an unsolicited email or phone call appearing to be from an organization you readily recognize asking you to verify personal and/or financial information.  To encourage immediate action, the request usually warns that an unauthorized transaction has taken place on your account, or that your service may be interrupted or shut down unless you confirm your information.

Pharming using computer software, such as crime ware, malware or spyware, to collect personal information from your computer and deliver it back to fraudsters.  In pharming, consumers who are attempting to log onto legitimate website are unknowingly redirected by the fraudulent software to an authentic-looking but bogus site.  When the consumer enters his or her personal login information, the criminals capture this sensitive information and may use it for a variety of violations, including accessing your accounts and making online purchases.  Since little or no participation on your part is necessary, and the redirect happens behind the scenes, pharming is extremely difficult to detect.

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft or fraud please call FMB and we will aid you in recovering lost/stolen funds as well as help you safeguard yourself against future issues.