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Types to prevent Fraud : Please read these lines carefully to learn how to stay away from fraud.


The e-mail is a simple and powerful tool distribute messages to large numbers of people.

And that includes fake e-mails.

For this reason, e-mail scams are now one of the major attacks carried out through the Internet.

Many of these attacks are intended to capture passwords, account numbers or credit card numbers.

For that, attackers use what is called "social engineering", the act of persuading or inducing people to do what they want for illegal or criminal purposes.

Just a text, simple instructions and a credible reason are enough to convince an uninformed user.

There are several types of fraud practiced by e-mail.

There are even those who do not have a financial goal, such as strings and rumors (hoaxes).

These emails should not be forwarded because they contain false information.

As a general rule, adopt the following measures:

  • Never reply to e-mails that ask for money, banking information, passwords or credit card data.
  • Do not click on links in these messages. If you believe that message is originated from a trusted source, for example, your bank, enter the web address of the web site directly into the browser bar, to avoid entering into a fake web page.

The following are some of the main types e-mail scams:

  • Phishing scam

    One of the most common and dangerous scams today is called phishing scam. It is accomplished through e-mails that appear to come from legitimate sources such as banks, universities, shops, or others. They ask you to click on a link or enter a particular web site to "update" your data, or to engage in any promotion.

    The objective is clear: to steal your banking information.

  • Nigerian Scheme

    The so-called "Nigerian scheme" is an old attack, (from around the 1920's), that was transported from the regular mail to the fax and then Internet.

    In general, the message is from someone in a far away country (usually Africa, including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast), who asks for help to take out of the country a huge amount of money that would otherwise not be able to leave the country for legal or political problems, and promises a rich reward in return for aid. The victim gives his bank details and asks you to pay the taxes for the release of assets. Only after losing a lot of money, would the user realize that he was deceived. The message is usually in English, but there are known "translations" of the Nigerian scheme with the same arguments in Spanish.


  • Fake lottery winnings

    Very similar to "Nigerian scheme", theses are scams using prizes, sweepstakes and contests that have been updated for current technologies.

    Messages are sent to many people, but giving the impression that they are personalized, and say that the recipient won in a lottery and won the lottery or was chosen for an exclusive reward or benefit. In order to receive the reward, the person must pay the taxes or provide personal information. Often, these scams use actual sweepstakes names and information.

    Again the warning: Never respond to messages like these.

The following are other types of fraudulent messages, including "strings", which generally have no financial targets but contain false or irrelevant information and should not be forwarded. Although they have some differences, pyramid schemes, multilevel marketing, and even some chains have in common the promise of quick and easy profit, whether the gain is money, products or some other benefit.

  • Pyramids

    You should have received at least one of these messages with the promise of a huge profit from a very small investment, (like send $1 to five people from a list). There are countless variations, but the attack is always based on a deceitful concept of easy, hassle-free money.

    Always be wary of clever promises and easy ways to get rich.

    This basic scheme may vary: You may be tempted to buy goods of those who are above you and to sell to those who are down on the list, or create a list of e-mails below you. In the latter case, besides losing money, you would provide a list of email addresses that will be sold to other attackers or used in other frauds. It is easy to understand how the scheme works for those high above in the hierarchy, but not for those in lower levels.

    The "calculation" shown to attract the user, (you pay ten dollars and the end you will receive one million), should serve as a warning. According to the scheme, the number of participants grows exponentially, and so does the money. Whoever takes the trouble to make a basic multiplication, will see that in a pyramid scheme, where each person brings in 10 more people, the tenth level should have 1 billion people. And the eleventh level, 10 billion more. This is more than the total population of the Earth. And, knowing that the promised result is false, a pyramid scheme is obviously a fraud.

    Another problem is that this scheme generates no wealth or goods of any kind, each penny that someone wins in a pyramid is another person lost penny. Simplifying, if ten people each place a dollar each in a sealed box, at the time of distributing the money there will still be ten dollars in the box. If five people earn two dollars, there are five that will not receive anything.

  • Multilevel marketing

    The marketing of multiple levels, also known as network marketing, can be considered a kind of pyramid scheme, a way to sell goods or services through distributors. Typically, these plans promise that if you become a distributor, you will receive commissions from both your sales and sales made by those you recruit to be distributors as well.

    If the plan promises a commission for recruiting other people, it can be considered as pyramid scheme, because the scheme will inevitably collapse when no new people can berecruited. Therefore, most participants just lose their investment, but those well above the pyramid often manage to win.

  • Chain Letters

    Chain letters rarely have to do with money or or ask for confidential information. Most have nothing to do with financial transactions or recruiting others. For this reason, they fit nicely into the spam category. They can also be considered as rumors (hoaxes), since they spread false messages.

    The greatest damage caused by chain letters are the hindering of Internet traffic by clogging the servers with useless messages, and feeding e-mail lists exchanged or sold between attackers and spammers. In general, people forward the message automatically to your list of friends, whether it is because it is a cry for help or that the information seems relevant, not taking the time to hide other people's email addresses. Thus, each time a letter is forwarded, along with a long list of email addresses, new addresses fall into the hands of malicious spammers.

In any case, remember that:

  • "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is a lie."
  • Do not respond to these messages, do not provide your data, do not click on links in emails, do not get involved in schemes that promise to make you rich. At best, you are going to lose money; at worst, you may be involved in an illegal or criminal procedure.

Check Fraud

Check fraud is a crime that can take place in different ways, some very simple, while others are much more complex. These are some types of check frauds

  • Forgery

    Forgery refers to the act of stealing a check, endorsing it and presenting it for payment at a retail location or at the bank teller window, probably using bogus personal identification. For a business, forgery typically takes place when an employee issues a check without proper authorization.

  • Counterfeiting

    Counterfeiting can either mean wholly fabricating a check using readily available desktop publishing equipment consisting of a personal computer, scanner, sophisticated software and high-grade laser printer or simply duplicating a check with advanced color photocopiers.

  • Alteration

    Alteration primarily refers to using chemicals and solvents such as acetone, brake fluid, and bleach to remove or modify handwriting and information on a check. When performed on specific locations on the check such as the payee's name or amount, it is called-spot alteration. When it is an attempt to erase all the information from on a check, it is called check washing.

  • Paperhanging

    This fraud method primarily deals with people purposely writing checks on closed accounts (their own or others), as well as reordering checks on closed accounts (their own or others).

  • Check Kiting

    Check kiting is the opening of accounts at two or more institutions and using the "float time" of available funds to create fraudulent balances. This fraud has become easier in recent years due to new regulations requiring banks to make funds available sooner, combined with increasingly competitive banking practices.

It has been estimated that the annual losses due to check fraud are in the billions of dollars and continue to grow steadily as criminals continue to seek ways to earn a living by defrauding others. For the consumer, the inconvenience and anxiety caused by resolving problems with their accounts, local merchants, as well as possible repercussions with credit bureaus, can be considerable.

Credit Card Fraud

  • Lost or stolen card

    This type of fraud happens when a card is physically stolen or lost, someone founds it, and is then used by another person pretending to be you.

  • Duplicate card or skimming

    This refers to the the duplication of a credit card or its encoding without the permission of the card company. In most cases, it involves copying information from the magnetic stripe of a genuine card without the knowledge of the owner. This type of fraud can only be detected when the card holder identifies non-authoirzed charges in his bill.

  • Data Theft

    This happens when a criminal steals the card information during a transaction or through the information of a receipt, and uses it to shop at distant locations, for example by telephone or through the Internet.

  • New credit card theft

    This fraud occurs when your card is stolen before reaching your home. Usually when the financial institution's card is mailed by postal service.

  • Change in credit card holder's identity

    This type of fraud takes place when a swindler uses your personal information to open an account. There are two types:

    • Application Fraud: It occurs when a criminal steals documents such as bank statements, and uses them to open a new account in your name.
    • Taking possession of the account: A scammer uses your personal information to pose as you and convince the bank to direct payments to another party.
  • ATM fraud

    This type of fraud is carried out by placing fake magnetic card readers that read the magnetic strip information and stores it, in order to make a duplicate of the card at a later time. This method is usually combined with a keyboard that also stores our secret code (PIN) or a camera on the top of the ATM to record the number as it is typed. This way they can make a copy of the card and withdraw money from ATMs, without any problems, because they already have the PIN.


How finacial intitutions prevent fraud?

Many card issuers develop use patterns for monitoring fraud. When an unusual transaction for a particular card is detected, the system raises a flag, and the institution contacts the card owner to ensure that the transaction is legitimate.

What happens if a fraud is detected?

Call the card issuer immediately!

What steps I can take to prevent fraud?

There are many simple steps you can take to prevent fraud, among them:

  • If your card is lost or stolen, notify FirstBank at 787-725-2511 and cancel your card immediately. Save this number among the contacts on your cell phone.
  • Never lose sight of your card, treat it as money.
  • Never tell anyone your PIN or store it near your card.
  • Use your card only with businesses you trust. If you have the slightest doubt, do not in use it.
  • Before inserting your card into an ATM make sure the keyboard is original, there are no cameras above looking at the keyboard, and that the device is original. Also, cover with your other hand when you enter the PIN number.
  • When shopping, do not allow your card to be taken some place else to process the purchase. Demand that the purchase be completed in your presence.
  • Always ask for the receipt.
  • Keep all your receipts and each month compare them with your statement. Check your statements carefully to see if there are unknown purchases.
  • If you see a purchase on your statement that you do not recognize, or notice any inconsistencies, contact Firstbank immediately!
  • Be careful when providing information about your credit card! Do not disclose any personal information when using it!
  • A seller may only require from you a valid credit card, a valid identification card, your telephone number and signature.
  • If a close family member 'borrows' your credit card to make a purchase, you are responsible for the purchase.
  • If you are separated or divorced, and your spouse is co-owner of the card, could be responsible for the purchases. Be sure to update your personal information every time your marital status changes.
  • Never carry your identification documents along with your debit or credit cards.
  • When you receive your password, memorize it and destroy the document where it came from. If you decide to write it down, do not write it on your everyday documents.
  • Do not throw away your receipts. Dispose of them properly by shredding them.
  • If you receive any call asking you for your personal information, make sure that FirstBank is making the call.
  • If you lose your documents and someone calls you that they found them, but they need your password to lock them, please do not submit the information. It's a scam.

Treat your credit card as an important private property. Once offenders have your credit card number and expiration date, they can buy just about anything, (e.g. shop by catalog, buy tickets by phone).

Despite all the security measures that financial institutions have implemented to safeguard credit cards, nothing is completely secure. Credit card fraud is a costly problem that can be prevented with everyone's cooperation, but mainly by raising awareness among users regarding the responsibility and risk of credit card ownership. Security measures should not only be implemented by financial insitutions, but also by our clients.

Don't forget that your card offers you great advantages and benefits, but ultimately it also requires that you take care the best care of it. To manage and protect your credit card from abuse doesn't take much time or effort. Just a couple of minutes now can save you a lot of frustration later on.

Watch out for this type of fraud.

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