Don't Become A Target

Understanding how criminals try to gain your information is the first step in building a good defense!

Know the Frauds!

Phishing (Pronounced Fishing)

Scams used to steal your personal information through fraudulent emails claiming to be from your bank, or other trusted source. It may appear authentic, but be careful – any email requesting personal information or asking you to "verify" personal information is usually a scam.


Text and mobile phone version of Phishing. Smart phone users are being increasingly targeted because their phones are handy and they tend to respond to texts and emails quickly. And, often the fake websites are harder to spot on a small screen. Be careful responding to urgent text messages and emails, especially from a financial institution.

Pharming (pronounced Farming)

Another type of online fraud that is very similar to its cousin Phishing. Installs malicious code on to your computer and misdirects you to fraudulent websites without your knowledge or consent. Once there, you're asked to enter personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers or passwords that criminals use to steal your identity.


The voice counterpart to Phishing. Instead of being directed by email, Vishing occurs when criminals cold call you on a landline or on a mobile phone and attempt to persuade you to divulge personal information over the phone. Some typical messages are: "There is a problem with your account," or "Your ATM card needs to be reactivated." Often, you're asked to call a phone number or visit a website that asks for credit card or bank numbers. Armed with that information, criminals can steal from your bank accounts, charge purchases on your credit cards and even create phony ATM cards. To protect yourself, be highly suspicious when receiving messages directing you to call and provide personal information. If you are concerned, call the bank directly, using the phone number that appears on the back of your card or monthly statement.

Debit & Credit Card Skimming

Thieves use a small electronic device (skimmer) that has been illegitimately setup to skim personal information from debit or credit cards without your knowledge.

Common places for skimming are restaurants or bars where the skimmer has possession of your debit and credit cards out of your immediate view. After the information is recorded, it is typically sold to other scammers on the black market or converted into a counterfeit card and used to make fraudulent purchases. Because it is difficult to know when your card has been skimmed, make sure your card stays in sight and regularly monitor your receipts against your financial statements.

Social Engineering

Thieves manipulate human nature in order to gain access to your online financial accounts. Thieves are smart…make sure you are smarter. Don't respond to emails or social network posts or messages that ask for money or confidential information. Don't assume that an unsolicited phone call or email is actually from a trusted source. Always verify, verify, verify that the request is from a legitimate source before releasing confidential information.


Known as malicious software that is designed to infiltrate or damage your computer system without your knowledge as you surf the web. Malware includes viruses, spyware, Trojan horses and keystroke loggers, all designed to steal your personal information. Make sure you have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on your computer, and that your firewall is turned on.

Fake Check Scams

Criminals use technology to create realistic looking checks or money orders and use them to pay for phony sweepstakes, lotteries, work-at-home schemes, mystery shopping and other scams. No matter what the story, fake check scams involve someone giving you a genuine-looking check or money order and asking you to wire the money somewhere in return. After you deposit or cash the check or money order and send the money, you learn it was phony. Now, the crook has the money and you owe it back to your bank. If you deposit a phony check in your bank account and use those funds, you are liable for the money, even though you may have been swindled. Be on guard for anything that seems suspicious. If there is no legitimate reason why someone would give you a check or money order, or ask you to send money somewhere, get advice from your bank or local consumer protection agency.

The best way to avoid becoming a target is to be cautious about unknown requests for money and confidential information. You can help protect yourself from most forms of identity theft.

Don't become a target….take steps to protect your personal information today!