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