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News & Alerts

Fraud Alerts & Safety Tips Newsletter
February 2013


In this newsletter:

4 Tips to Prevent ATM Card Skimming

The next time you need cash fast from an ATM, take a close look at the card reader before swiping your card.  The past several years, we have heard of an increasing occurrence of ATM “card skimming” across the U.S. in which criminals place “skimming" devices on the card reader of the ATM.  

These gadgets are designed to steal, record and remotely transmit your personal identification number (PIN) and other information stored on the magnetic stripe of your ATM/debit card.

ATM card skimming is approaching a billion-dollar issue worldwide and occurs all across America.  Several people within our own communities have reported card skimming cases at ATM machines located outside of Wisconsin. 

So how do you protect yourself against such cases?  Here are four tips to help prepare you:

  1. Inspect the ATM machine closely for anything that appears out of the ordinary.  Determine if anything looks loose or unevenly attached.  Generally, if you can pull something off the face of the ATM where you insert your card, it is probably an ATM skimming device.
  2. Question anything that looks unusual.  If your card gets stuck in the machine or you notice anything odd about the appearance of the machine - such as wires, double sided tape, error messages, or if the machine seems unusually old and run down - don't use it.  Instead, look for a different ATM to use.
  3. Try to use an ATM at a bank whenever possible.  Because of increased use of surveillance cameras, bank ATMs are considered safer than free-standing ATMs or those in convenience stores.
  4. Get in the habit of always shielding your PIN.  Scammers have a difficult time turning your 16 digit account numbers into cash without the PIN.  Cover the keypad as you enter your PIN.  If you use your debit card at a merchant point-of-sale, select the credit option so you don't have to enter your PIN.

Banks across the U.S. are exploring new technologies that can jam the signal of skimming devices.  And, major security companies including ADT are also developing anti-skimming solutions.  

However, consumers need to keep an eye out for devices affixed to the front of ATMs, in addition to small cameras mounted near mirrors or on brochure holders.  In summary, the best thing you can do is be aware that card skimming fraud is increasing, and follow these safety tips to protect yourself from theft.

Loan Modification Scams Targeting Homeowners

Several mortgage customers of The Peoples Community Bank have reported receiving multiple offers from companies offering to lower their interest rate, modify their payment schedule and/or reduce their monthly payment.  The goal of these fraudulent companies is for you to commit to their service.  They then charge you  hefty, hidden fees in return.

One such letter circulating in our communities originated from a company called the "Loan Payment Administration."  If you are a mortgage customer and receive such a letter, proceed with caution. We urge you to contact your lender before committing to any restructuring of your current mortgage.

We have no doubt that similar scams will continue to evolve and increase in the months and years to come.  As a precaution, always stop and think before responding to an offer that may seem out of the ordinary or too good to be true.

5 Safety Tips to Combat Phishing Scams

A sudden increase in phishing scams is being reported by consumers across the country.

According to reports, perpetrators are using automated dialers, text messages or emails to misinform consumers that their accounts have been closed due to fraud.   Consumers are then prompted to enter in their card information, including expiration number and three-digit CV code on the back of the card in order to reactivate their accounts.   Those who respond to these inquires run the potential risk of having their information used to fraudulently purchase goods and services or to obtain credit.

To avoid becoming the victim of a phishing scam, follow these tips:

  • Never give out your personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax or email, no matter how official it may seem.
  • Do not respond to email that may warn of dire consequences unless you validate your information immediately.  Contact the company to confirm the email's validity using a telephone number or web address you know to be genuine.
  • Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly and look for unauthorized transactions, even small ones.  Some thieves hope small transactions will go unnoticed.  Report all discrepancies immediately.
  • When submitting financial information online, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your Internet browser. Also, many secure Internet addresses use "https" domain security.
  • Report suspicious activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

If you have responded to an email, contact us immediately so we can help protect your account and your identity.  Phishing scams are evolving, increasing and very real in nature.  Don’t become a victim.

Mortgage Auditing Scams Reported

Be on the alert for so called “mortgage auditing companies,” who have been soliciting banks customers in the area.  These customers reported to us that they received a one-page letter from a company called the “Mortgage Auditing Program.”

The letter claims that “you may be owed a refund of several thousand dollars from your mortgage lender.”  In addition, the letter states that “your monthly mortgage payment may have been miscalculated and you may be due a refund from either your current or previous mortgage lender.”  

Finally, this fraudulent offer closes with “you are eligible for a mortgage analysis and refund review.”  

To uncover this scam, we called the phone number of one of these letters.  Just as we suspected, we were asked for $299.00 to begin the refund review.  Enough said.  Immediate hang up from our end.

As more scams like this surface, please pay close attention to the messages you see and hear.  There are numerous scams today that attempt to lure you with hooks such as “free money” and “large refund.”  As always, stop and think carefully before responding to any offer from an unknown source.

3 Important Mobile Security Tips

Mobile technology is being enhanced and launched at near light speed.  Sure, going mobile with the latest technologies offers us numerous benefits.  However, we still need to monitor and protect each new mobile device from potential security threats.  

Here are three important tips to help keep the information within your mobile device safe from theft:

  • Mobile devices can be easy to lose. It’s easy to lay down your smartphone while you’re shopping and walk off without it. If someone finds it, and you haven’t secured your phone properly, the finder could gain access to all of your stuff—from private photos to your financial accounts.
  • Watch your wireless connection. Many tablets and smartphones allow you to use WiFi. You can often find this for free in coffeehouses and cafes.  Just be aware, the signal is likely unsecured and the person sitting across from you could be capturing every detail you transmit—including your usernames and passwords.  Stay secure.
  • You can still catch a virus. Obviously, the software for a mobile device is different from what’s available for your laptop or desktop PC. But that doesn’t mean that viruses don’t exist for smartphones or tablets. To stop these electronic bugs before they can attack, make sure you have the right protection after you get your mobile device. This is essential.

Following these simple mobile security tips will help enhance security of personal information stored within your cell phone or other mobile device.

Mobile Banking App Helps Minimize Security Risk

Studies show that mobile browsers are more susceptible than traditional web browsers to threats like phishing, website spoofing, and man-in-the-middle attacks than the mobile app.  With two out of every three mobile purchasers also conducting mobile banking, the potential security risks are significant.  

♦ To minimize security risks, we recommend that you utilize apps for your mobile transactions, especially your personal and business banking transactions.

Download our Mobile Banking App for free for your iPhone, iPad or Android mobile devices

Frequently Asked Questions: Mobile Banking App


This newsletter does not constitute tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice. We attempt to be accurate, but neither we nor any other party shall be held liable for loss or damages resulting from reliance upon or use of this material. © 2013 The Peoples Community Bank