Important: The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod will NEVER call you unsolicited to verify information about your account or personal information over the phone or via email. If you are contacted in such a manner, PLEASE do not give out this information and contact our Customer Assistance Center during normal business hours at 508.568.3400 or 1.800.641.1100. Don’t let unscrupulous thieves rob you or members of your family of your identity. Here you will find resources to assist you in understanding identity theft and fraud, how to protect yourself and others and what to do if you suspect your identity has been stolen. While much has been written about high-tech, online identity thieves, the “low-tech” methods are far more prevalent. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), here are some of the most common ways your identity can be stolen.
Common Ways that ID Theft Happens
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your personal information including:
- Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
- Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by processing your card.
- Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
- Changing Your Address. They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a “change of address” form.
- “Old-Fashioned” Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records from their employers, or bribe employees who have access.
Challenging economic times tend to breed scams and fraud. It’s a regrettable byproduct of the times. That’s why it’s even more important now to be vigilant and not fall victim to one of the clever scams. Remember the adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Listed below are just a few of the things we’ve spotted out there:
Discovered on the internet, a UK company needs help with their receivables in the U.S. You would receive checks for the company, take them to the bank, cash them, and keep a “fee” of 10% then wire the rest of the money as instructed. Often the money orders are for an identical amount. All checks are returned as fraudulent. Another similar company “hires” a person online to bring in a series of money orders in the same amount. The job and checks are a scam. After answering an ad in a local paper a person is hired to be a “shopper” and brings in a large check to be cashed. The instructions were to cash the check at her local bank, spend about $75 on goods purchased at a large national chain, keep $400 as her “fee” and then test this store’s courtesy desk by wiring the remaining balance back to the company that hired the person. This is a scam.
Awards and Sweepstakes
If you did not enter into a sweepstakes, you would not be winning or be in the “running” to win. If someone says to you that you need to cash a check at your local bank for taxes and fees you need to pay in order to claim a monetary prize, you are being scammed. Chances are you never entered sweepstakes or a “compensation draw” for major retail store customers, therefore how could you possibly win? This is a scam. You or your child receives an award letter and check in the mail for a large sum of money. The check and the award are a scam. Your child will likely be angry with you when you tell them that they cannot transact the check, but it does represent an excellent opportunity to teach them about the nasty people in the world who try to take advantage of others.
You believe you have sold some items on eBay. You receive several U.S. Postal Money Orders that are more than you were asking for the items. You deposit the checks in your bank account, then withdraw the extra payment and wire it back. You then spend the rest of the funds before the checks are returned as fraudulent. When asked by the teller if you know the person who gave them to you, you reply “yes” even though you really did not. Remember, the customer is always responsible for all checks they cash and/or deposit at the Bank. We accept them conditionally. Insurance does not cover the Bank for check losses. If fraudulent checks are returned to us, it is the customer’s responsibility to repay the Bank even if they have already spent the funds. Tellers and other Bank representatives ask you questions about the checks you are cashing to protect you and Bank. If you have doubts, ask us! That’s why we’re here. Also, FakeChecks.org is a GREAT resource. Keep your eyes open, and remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
How to Protect Yourself
The best defense against identity theft is to protect your personal information.
- Do not provide your social security number or personal credit information to anyone who calls you over the phone. Only provide this information if you initiate the call and you are familiar with whom you are sharing this information.
- Tear up or shred credit card receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Opt out of preapproved credit card offers by calling 1.888.5OPT.OUT.
- When using the Internet, only provide information to secured sites for businesses that you trust and have a clear policy as to how they will use the information.
- Never respond to email solicitations asking for personal information!
- Change your driver’s license number to a randomly assigned “S” number in Massachusetts if you have not already done so.
- Review your monthly financial statements immediately and closely and report any suspicious activity to your bank or credit card company immediately.
- Check your credit report annually and immediately report any inaccuracies to the credit bureau. As a Massachusetts resident, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report per year from the three credit reporting agencies.
Learn more about Identity Theft
- Federal Trade Commission
- ID Theft Prevention video
- ID Theft for Business video
- Compliance Checklist for your Business (“For Businesses in MA – New MA Data Protection Law requirements for protecting consumer information effective March 2010.” – PDF)
Your Deposits Are Insured In Full at The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod As a cooperative bank, The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod deposits are insured in full. The Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF) insures your money beyond the FDIC coverage limits of $250,000.
Identity Fraud – Guide on Identity Theft for Victims and Consumers (PDF) An important message from the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General.
Consumer Alert: Avoid Phishing and Other Financial Scams Brochure (PDF) There are many scams and variations, but this brochure discusses a few of the more common scams out there and how to avoid them. Brought to you by the Massachusetts Banker’s Association.
Beware of E-Mail Scams Brochure (PDF) In response to the many fraudulent e-mails out there, the Massachusetts Banker’s Association has created a consumer alert brochure.
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