As a customer, you may be seen as a potential target for fraudulent activities. However, by arming yourself with information and tools, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.
Do you know the four (4) biggest fraud threats you face?
- Electronic fraud
- Identity theft
- Credit/Debit card fraud
- Check fraud
Email scams and fake websites
A number of customers from different financial institutions have been targeted with hoax emails. These emails appear to be genuine bank emails.
Some emails inform the customer that their security details and passwords need to be updated by logging into an authentic looking, but fake website. The purpose of these websites is to obtain your log on details to access your bank accounts.
Others communicate security messages and advise you to install software from the email that checks and removes viruses. By downloading the software, you are in fact tricked into downloading a virus.
Identity theft is where a dishonest individual or syndicate will gather your personal details in order to gain some sort of financial or other benefit, leaving you the owner of that identity often in large debt with a negative credit history and in some cases with legal implications.
Your information can be obtained in many ways:
- Theft, including theft of mail from your mailbox at home
- By going through your garbage bins
- Telephone scams
The following can be used to assume your identity:
- Date of Birth
- Utilities bills (phone, gas, water and rates notices)
What to do
How you can protect your identity:
- Report any loss or theft of documents such as driver's license, credit card or passport immediately
- Keep tax records and other financial documents in a secure place
- Cancel all unused or dormant accounts that you may have
- Secure your mailbox with a padlock where possible
Credit/Debit card fraud
Credit card and debit card fraud is a crime whereby your credit or debit card can be reproduced in order to use the credit balance to obtain a financial advantage. The creation and/or alteration of a credit/debit card occur when the information contained on the magnetic strip is reproduced. This type of crime is known as ‘skimming’.
Credit or debit card fraud can also occur when your card is lost or stolen and used by a third party to purchase goods with those cards or to remove cash from the cards.
Credit or debit cards can also be intercepted in transit while being sent to you. Your cards can also be compromised by a dishonest merchant who undertakes unauthorized duplicate transactions on your card.
What to do
Protect your credit/debit card:
- Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Don't use the same PIN for all your cards, and don't choose your birthdate or other easily identifiable number that might be on something else in your wallet
- Do cover your hand as you enter your PIN and don’t allow anyone to see the ATM screen during your transaction
- Check statements and call your credit card issuer immediately if you see anything suspicious on your bill. You could help the company uncover fraud—and save yourself from paying unauthorized charges
- Do not let your credit card out of your sight at anytime – for example, at a restaurant – go with the card
- Credit or Debit card cloning (card fraud) is not just happening in the Philippines – be just as vigilant when traveling overseas, credit card skimming is an international crime
- Always sign your card in ink as soon as you receive it
- Keep track of when new and re-issued cards should arrive, and call the credit card issuer if they don't come on time.
- Make sure your mailbox is secure, and that only you and few trusted relatives at home have access to it
- Tear up all credit card receipts and pre-approved credit card offers into small pieces before you throw them away. Keep your billing statements in a safe place
- When you use your credit card online, make sure you are using a secure website. Look for a small key or lock symbol at the bottom right of your browser's window
- Never give your card number to strangers or telemarketers who call you on the phone. Don't give your card number unless you initiated the call
What is Check Fraud?
A significant amount of check fraud is due to counterfeiting through desktop publishing and copying to create or duplicate an actual financial document, as well as chemical alteration, which consists of removing some or all of the information and manipulating it to the benefit of the criminal. Victims include financial institutions, businesses who accept and issue checks, and the consumer. In most cases, these crimes begin with the theft of a financial document. It can be perpetrated as easily as someone stealing a blank check from your home or vehicle during a burglary, searching for a canceled or old check in the garbage.
Signs for bad checks:
Below are several signs which may indicate a bad check. While one sign on its own does not guarantee a check to be counterfeit, the greater the number of signs, the greater the possibility that the check is bad.
- The check number is either missing or does not change
- The type of font used to print the customer's name looks visibly different from other details
- The address of the bank is missing
- There are stains or discolorations on the check possibly caused by erasures or alterations
- The MICR encoding at the bottom of the check does not match the check number
- The MICR numbers are missing
- The check lacks an authorized signature
Check Fraud Tips for the Consumer
- Store your checks, deposit slips, bank statements and canceled checks in a secure and locked location. Never leave your checkbook in your vehicle or in the open
- Reconcile your bank statement within 30 days of receipt in order to detect any irregularities. Otherwise, you may become liable for any losses due to check fraud
- Never give your account number to people you do not know, especially over the telephone. Be particularly aware of unsolicited phone sales. Fraud artists can use your account without your authorization and you may end up being responsible
- If your home is burglarized, check your supply of checks to determine if any have been stolen. Look closely because thieves will sometimes take only one or two checks from the middle or back of the book. The longer it takes to detect any of your checks have been taken, the more time the criminal has to use them successfully
- Don't leave blank spaces on the payee and amount lines
- The type of pen you use makes a difference. Most ballpoint and marker inks are dye based, meaning that the pigments are dissolved in the ink. But, based on ink security studies, gel pens, like the Uniball 207 uses gel ink that contains tiny particles of color that are trapped into the paper, making check washing a lot more difficult
- Don't write your credit card number on the check
- Don't make a check payable to cash. If lost or stolen, the check can be cashed by anyone
- Never endorse a check until you are ready to cash or deposit it. The information can be altered if it is lost or stolen