Fans of online banking should be sure to carefully watch what gets delivered to their e-mail inboxes.
An online scam sent via e-mail, an act also known as “phishing,” tells The Heritage Bank customers to “Quickly restore and secure your account access by following the link below. You will be required to authente your identify, account information and current location.”
With obvious spelling errors and incorrect word choices, it is clear to a customer who carefully reads the e-mail that something is wrong. But for someone who quickly glances over the message, it could lead to giving a scammer personal information that could start account problems.
“A client should never click into a provided link. They should only use web addresses that they type in and know are correct,” John Crowley, The Heritage Bank marketing director, said. “Once they begin their log-in process, the client should verify all their chosen security information is correct.”
The Federal Trade Commission has a special section on its website dedicated to consumer protection in regards to spam, fraud and other crimes that can be committed through phishing.
According to the FTC website, “phishers send an e-mail or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you may deal with – for example, an Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service or even a government agency. The message may ask you to ‘update,’ ‘validate,’ or ‘confirm’ your account information. Some phishing e-mails threaten a dire consequence if you don’t respond. The messages direct you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization’s site. But it isn’t. It’s a bogus site whose sole purpose is to trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.”
Sometimes, the information even gets sent to non-customers, a tell-tale sign that something is amiss and that scammers will try to reach as broad an audience as possible.
“I am not a Heritage Bank customer, but I immediately recognized the message as a phishing scheme – a scam,” frequent e-mail user Mark Bolton said. “I’ve seen these quite frequently from national banks like Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual or Bank of America, but when I saw the familiar Heritage Bank logo on the message, I thought, ‘Wow, this is really close to home.’”
For more, pick up a copy of the April 2 edition of the News.