FTC Consumer Alert

When you trust CBBC to help with your financial matters, you want to know that we are keeping your personal and account information safe. We have security programs in place to protect your confidential information. We are also dedicated to helping you protect your financial information.

Safeguarding Your Financial Information

Learn More – Link to:

On-line security information
Identity Theft information
Credit Report information
Online Fraud Prevention information
Other forms of financial fraud information

On-line Security

CBBCBANK.com provides information about and access to financial services offered by CBBC/Citizens Bank of Blount County.

User ID and Password

CBBC is committed to making your online banking experience safe and secure. To access certain online service, you will be assigned a unique User ID and password that is for your use only. Your User ID and password are to protect you by confirming your identity to the computer network system. There are a number of ways that you can ensure that your online banking information is protected.

Here are some steps you can take to protect your User ID and password/PIN (personal identification numbers):

  • Do not write down your password and tape it to your computer monitor, the bottom of your keyboard, under your mouse pad, or any other place near your computer system.
  • Do not reveal your User ID or password to anyone else. Your information is designed to protect your banking information, but they only work if you keep them to yourself.
  • Change your password frequently (monthly or quarterly).
  • Change your password immediately if it becomes known, or you suspect it is known, by anyone else.
  • When creating passwords do not use any part of your Social Security number, birth date, middle name, spouse’s name, and child’s name, pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, address, or anything that a thief could easily deduct or discover.
  • Don’t walk away from your computer if you are in the middle of an online banking session.
  • Once you have finished your online banking session, sign off before visiting other Internet sites.
  • If you notice any suspicious or unusual activity related to any of your accounts, contact us immediately at (865) 977-5924.

Other ways that CBBC ensures your privacy includes:

  • Information Encoding
    We use the latest encoding technology to ensure that your private information cannot be intercepted. Encryption is a way to rewrite something in code, which can be decoded later with the right “key”. When you request information about your accounts, the request is sent encrypted to CBBC. We decode your request and send the requested information back to you in an encrypted format. When you receive the information, it is decoded so that you can read it.

  • Personally Selected Account Names
    CBBC does not display your account numbers over the internet. Instead, we ask you to choose a “pseudo,” or descriptive, name for each of your accounts (example: household account, savings account).

  • Password/PIN Security System
    To keep unauthorized individuals from accessing your account by guessing your password/PIN, we have instituted a password/PIN security system. If your password/PIN is entered incorrectly three consecutive times, the user is “locked out” of the system for 24 hours. Your account is not accessible via online banking throughout this 24-hour lockout period.

  • Automatic Timeout Feature
    In order to prevent someone from gaining unauthorized access to your financial information, you should always log off the system after you have completed your business. As an added layer of protection, the CBBC website will automatically terminate your session if there has been no activity for 10 minutes. You will have to “re-log” on to continue working on the online banking system.

  • Image Recognition
    An additional security feature that you will fine when you log into the CBBC online system is an image, that you have selected, that will assure you that you are at the true CBBC website. In addition you may be required to answer some questions, again that you selected and know the answer to, if uncharacteristic or unusual online banking behavior is detected.

  • Firewalls 
    In addition to the above safeguards, we have sophisticated firewalls and an authentication process to ensure that only authorized individuals are allowed to enter our system. A firewall acts as a barrier between the Internet and CBBC’s internal network system, permitting only specific traffic to pass in and out.

Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft:

Identity theft, also called “account takeover fraud” or “true name fraud,” involves criminals stealing personal credit information about individuals and assuming their identities by applying for credit in their names, running up huge bills, stiffing creditors and generally wrecking victims’ credit histories.

What Identity Thieves Do with Your Information:

Identity thieves frequently open new accounts in your name. They often apply for new credit cards using your information, make charges, and leave the bills unpaid. It is also common for them to set up telephone and utility service in your name and not pay for it. Some victims have found that identity thieves applied for loans, apartments, and mortgages. Thieves have also been known to print counterfeit checks in a victim’s name.

Thieves also often access your existing accounts. They may take money from your bank accounts, make charges on your credit cards, and use your checks and credit to make down payments for cars, furniture, and other expensive items. They may file for government benefits including unemployment insurance and tax refunds.

Unfortunately, thieves often use a stolen identity again and again. Is it very common for victims to learn that thieves have opened and accessed numerous accounts, often over a long span of time.

How Identity Theft Happens:

Four out of five victims have no idea how an identity thief obtained their personal information. However, we know that the following methods can be used to acquire key pieces of personal information that is then used in identity thief:

  • Theft of your purse, wallet or checkbook.
  • Dumpster Diving – going through you trash.
  • Removing mail from your home mailbox, from a drop box, at businesses, and even directly from postal workers.
  • Phishing – Obtaining information by email scams and fraudulent websites.
  • Hacking – Illegally gaining access to computer systems containing personal or financial data.
  • Pretext calling – Using false pretenses to obtain information via telephone.
  • Often identity theft is committed by someone you know – roommates, hired help, and landlords all have access to your home, and it is possible for them to access private information . Identity theft within families is also fairly common.
  • Identity thieves may change “your” address on an account so that you won’t ever receive the bills with the fraudulent changes on them.

Steps to Prevent Fraud:

At Home:

  • Keep personal information safe (locked away in a drawer of file cabinet).
  • Don’t keep Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) near your checkbook, ATM card or debit card.
  • Shred any papers with confidential information before you throw them out – even the junk mail. Remember that anything with an account number on it can be used in identity theft. This includes prescreened credit card offers, receipts, canceled checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, doctor’s bills, and insurance documents.
  • Carry as few cards with identification and personal information (Social Security cards, passports, or birth certificates) as possible in your purse or wallet. These items should be in a safe place at home or in a safe deposit box at the bank.
  • Be wary of any mail, telephone, or Internet request for information – it could be “pretexting”.
  • CBBC will never call and ask you for your information, we already have it. However, we will ask for information if you call us so that we can properly identify you.
  • Unless you initiated the contact with a business, don’t give out any confidential information.
  • Check your banking and credit statements soon after you receive them and make sure there is no unexplained activity.
  • Keep track of when in the month each of your bills usually arrive. If a bill does not arrive on time, call the company to make sure no changes have been made to your account.
  • Notify your bank and other creditors as soon as possible when you have a change of address.
  • Report lost or stolen checks immediately so that stop payments can be placed. Report lost or stolen checks to CBBC at 865-977-5931.

Out of the Home – Shopping and Services:

  • When signing a credit card slip, avoid putting your address, telephone number, or driver’s license number on it.
  • Always take your receipts with you to shred at home because “dumpster diving” is very common at large retail areas, such as malls.
  • Be particularly wary of giving out your social security number.
  • When mailing bills and credit card payments, take them to the post office personally rather than leaving them in a mail box for pick up.
  • Get a copy of your credit report annually.

Your Credit Report

What is a Credit Report:

A credit report is a picture of your credit, debt and payment history. When you apply for credit such as a credit card or a car loan, this is reported to one or more of the major credit bureaus and a file is established in your name. Your credit file will document: credit inquiries made on your file by credit providers, employers, insurance companies and government agencies (usually within the past two years), public record information such as bankruptcies, judgments and tax liens.

There are three main national credit bureaus:

  • Equifax,
  • Experian and
  • TransUnion.

All of the creditors you deal with will report your information to at least one of these agencies, and your credit report is continually updated.

Your credit report cannot be viewed by anyone who does not have a legitimate need for viewing it.

What is in my Credit Report

Credit bureaus collect many types of information about you in your credit file. This includes:

  • Where you live
  • Where you work
  • How you pay your bills
  • If you have been sued
  • If you have been arrested
  • If you have filed for bankruptcy

There are four basic types of information collected:

  1. Your identification and employment information:
    • Name
    • Social Security Number
    • Date of Birth
    • Current and previous addresses
    • Telephone number
    • Current and previous employers
  2. Payment History: All of the credit accounts you have had within the past 10 years appear on your credit report:
    • Types of credit accounts:
      • Mortgages
      • Bank and retail credit cards
      • Bank loans
      • Financial company loans
    • Information collected on these:
      • Your name and account number
      • Date account was opened or closed
      • Amount borrowed and amount still owed
      • Credit limit
      • Timeliness of payments
  3. Inquiries: A list of people who have requested your credit report other than you, including:
    • Lenders within the past year
    • Potential employers within the past two years
  4. Public Record Information
    • Bankruptcy
    • Foreclosure
    • Judgments, including child support judgments
    • Tax liens
    • Criminal convictions

Most of this information, as well as information on your various credit accounts, will be on your report for seven years. Personal bankruptcies will be reported for 10 years. Correct information, even if it negatively reflects on you, cannot be removed by anyone. While many con men will have you believe that they can remove negative information on your credit report for a fee, only the passage of time will achieve that result.

Getting a copy of your credit report:

Many people don’t realize they are victims of identity theft until long after the initial crime occurred. Identity thieves often try to hide the crimes for as long as possible so that they can access more money. To stop the crimes as soon as possible, make sure you carefully check your credit reports regularly. Your credit reports are important tools for limiting the amount of damage a thief can cause.

  • Get your free credit report by contacting the following:
    By e-mail: www.annualcreditreport.com
    By phone: 1-877-322-8228
    By mail: Annual Credit Report Request Service
    P.O. Box 105281
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
  • Once you receive the credit report do the following:
    • Check to make sure you are aware of all accounts listed, and balances are what you expect them to be.
    • Look for anything suspicious in the section that lists who has received a copy of your credit history. Some identity thieves “pre-text” by posing as a landlord or employer.
    • Make sure no inquiries have been made about loans or leases you didn’t apply for.
    • Check for addresses where you have never lived.
    • Check to make sure your social security number is correct.
    • If there is any incorrect information in the records, contact the credit bureaus (information listed below), creditor, employer, or government agency immediately. Follow up with a letter describing what actions were taken. Your protections are usually stronger if you report the problem quickly and in writing.

Correcting information on my credit report:

Since credit information is collected from a variety of sources, errors do occur. It is important to check your credit report periodically and address errors immediately. Serious errors could affect your ability to obtain a loan, insurance or even a job or could affect your credit rating, which in turn would mean that you might have to pay a higher interest rate when you borrow money.

You should check the following areas to make sure that the information reported on your credit report is correct:

  • Information about you
    • Look for misspelling of your name or errors in your birth date or Social Security number.
    • Make sure the same loan is not listed more than once.
    • Look for omissions, such as the fact that you paid off a delinquent account or resolved a legal matter.
    • Make sure accounts that are closed are actually listed as closed.
    • Look for “mixed” information, such as information about Robert Jones, Sr. on the report of Robert Jones, Jr.
    • Look for old addresses, employers or a previous spouse’s information that should be removed from the report.

If you find errors on your report, you can dispute them at no cost. Details on how to dispute an error are included with your credit report, but basically you should notify in writing the consumer credit reporting company (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) as well as the person or company who provided the information of the error. Be as detailed as possible, providing copies of documents as needed. Send your letters certified mail, return receipt requested and keep a copy for your records. Listed below are the addresses of the three major consumer reporting agencies.

EQUIFAX
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
800/685-1111
www.equifax.com

EXPERIAN
National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
888/397-3742
www.experian.com

TRANSUNION
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
800/888-4213
www.tuc.com

The agency is responsible for investigating and modifying or removing inaccurate data; this process may take as long as 30 days. At your request, the agency must also reissue corrected reports to lenders who received your report within the past six months, or employers who received it in the last two years.

If you are not satisfied with the correction, you have the right to add a brief statement to your credit report about the disputed data. Your statement should be used to clarify inaccuracies, not to explain reasons for delinquency.

Should you be denied credit because of information in your report, the lender is required to give you the name, address, and telephone number of the bureau that produced the report.

You then have 60 days to request a free copy of your report.

Online Fraud Prevention Tips

By taking a few simple precautions you can help to protect your home computer from online fraud.

Create Strong Passwords

Passwords are the keys to your secure information. The stronger the password the more difficult it will be for someone to guess. Always use a combination of letters and numbers. Below are some tips to help you create a strong password:

  • When creating passwords do not use any part of your Social Security number, birth date, middle name, spouse’s name, and child’s name, pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, address, or anything that a thief could easily deduct or discover.
  • Select a line from a favorite song, poem, or quote and use the first letter of each word to create your password. “The Star Spangled Banner” becomes tssb7.
  • Use two short words and connect them with a number or special character: run@it.
  • Use a combination of upper case letters, lower case letters, and numbers: Urthe12C.
  • Use a word that you can easily remember, but remove the vowels and replace them with numbers: money becomes m0n3y.

Use the Web Wisely

The following tips will help you avoid potential hazards online.

  • Do not let Web browsers store passwords for you.
  • Do not transmit passwords in unencrypted email or Web forms.
  • Install spam blocking software and keep it up to date.
  • Delete spam without reading it.
  • Do not open file attachments unless you know what they contain.
  • Think before you do business with a website.
  • Limit financial and personal data you send to websites.
  • Opt out of marketing notices.
  • If the website gives you the option of not storing your information for later use, take it.
  • Limit use of cookies to those few sites that provide services you need.

Maintain Your Security

Make sure you regularly maintain your computer security measures. This is an ongoing process that must be periodically reviewed and updated. The following are tips that will help you monitor your computer security:

  • Keep your computer operating system, web browser, and security settings up to date.
  • Install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it up to date.
  • Equip your computer with either a software firewall or a hardware firewall.
  • Scan your computer for spyware regularly.
  • Turn off your computer when you are not using it.
  • Back up your computer onto disk, tape or CD-ROM regularly.
  • Regularly delete your cookies and clean out temp folders.
  • Limit the applications on your machine. If you no longer need it, uninstall it.

Other Forms of Financial Fraud

Everyone is subject to fraudulent schemes and con games. Older people in particular seem to be frequently targeted, perhaps because as a group they tend to be more trusting of others and assume the same sincerity in return.

Below are some typical financial frauds and scams and suggestion on how to protect yourself and your money. They are grouped into three categories:

  • Fraud on the Phone
  • Fraud at the Door
  • Fraud through the Mailbox

Fraud on the Phone

Although the phone is the instrument of choice for many swindlers, much phone solicitation is legitimate. There are many worthy businesses and charities that have nothing to hide and will answer your questions freely.

Fraudulent Telemarketers:

Watch out for fraudulent telemarketers! They may start with a postcard promising cash and prizes if you call an “800” or “900” number. If you do it, a friendly voice will ask for your credit card number to “verify” your identity, and then come the high-pressure tactics to get you to buy merchandise with your credit card. Later, you may be billed several times, or you may never receive the merchandise at all.

If you do receive the merchandise, it may not be what you expected or you may feel that the price you paid was highly inflated. By that time, it is often difficult and time consuming to return the item and receive credit.

To protect yourself, ask for written information on products and services offered before you order them.

Fake Orders for Magazine Subscriptions

People selling magazine subscriptions may “offer” an extremely low price which is only available if you pay with a credit card. Repeatedly, terms like “verification”, “identification,” or “process” will be used to try to get you to reveal your credit card number. Once you give it, the con artist will use the number to place fake orders.

Never give anyone your credit card number on the phone unless you made the call to place an order or to make a donation. Do not make a donation to an unknown charity. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the organization complies with their standards.

Investment Frauds

Investment frauds are usually carried out on a hit-and–run basis. These scams may involve the selling of coins, oil and gas leases, precious metals and gemstones. The caller will flatter you as a “smart investor” who can recognize a good deal, then confide that if you sign up quickly you can get in on a great “opportunity.” Remember these salespersons are professionals and gifted at getting people to believe them.

When someone calls with an investment opportunity, get the name, address, and phone number of the company. Request references and written materials. Always read carefully any form before signing. Check with the Better Business Bureau, the Bureau of Consumer Protection, or perhaps your bank or investment firm.

Bank Examiner Fraud

This type of fraud begins when someone calls you home, identifies himself as a bank examiner, and says he needs your help to apprehend a bank employee, usually a teller, suspected of theft. You are asked to withdraw a specified amount of cash from your account. The caller says that a representative will come to your home, pick up the money, and redeposit it in your account to test the employee’s honesty. He explains that the deposit must be in cash so that serial numbers on the bills can be checked. But once you give your money over to the “examiner” you never see it again.

Never turn large sums of cash over to anyone, especially a stranger. If you are approached by a so-called bank examiner or bank representatives, always call your bank immediately to verify and alert them.

Travel Scams

Travel scams often combine phone and mail fraud. A phone call from a travel club announces that you are the grand prize winner of a contest. Chances are you never entered any such contest, but naturally you would be happy to win a prize. Then, you are told that this prize only can be obtained if you pay a membership fee to their travel club, as small s $10 or as much as $300 or more. And again, you must pay using your credit card. Once the callers have your card number, they can use it to fake orders.

The best way to defend yourself against questionable calls, other than to hang up; is to ask the caller to send you information in writing. Again, ask about the caller and the company. Remember, the use of excessive high pressure sales tactics is often a sign of a con artist at work.

Fraud at the Door

This can be the most frightening form of fraud, because the con artist is face-to-face with you, and self-protection is not as easy as hanging up the phone or throwing away a letter. Here are a few frauds to watch for:

The Pigeon Drop

This form of fraud is an old but still successful fraud that involves the supposed “finding of money,” usually a wallet. The victim is approached by a stranger who, in conversation, mentions having just found a large sum of money. The catch is that to share in the find you must put up “good faith” money that will be held by a friend or employer of the con artist until it is certain that the money will not be claimed. You are asked to withdraw money from the bank, and hand it over for safekeeping. You can guess what happens when you try to pick up your share of the fund and recover your “good faith” money. Nobody – and no money - is to be found.

Never get involved in a deal where you are asked to turn money over to a stranger. Call the police instead.

Funeral Chasers

In this situation, funeral chasers visit the family of a recently deceased person, claiming that the decedent made a down payment on merchandise which is scheduled for delivery the next day, but there’s a balance due. They mention facts about the decedent designed to assure the family that the collector is legitimate. However, such facts are easily found in obituary columns and elsewhere. At times like these, family members may be easy to convince, and the so-called balance due often is paid.

Try not to make quick decisions under emotional or stressful conditions. Take time to think. Ask to see a receipt or order signed by the deceased.

Home Repair

Someone comes to the door and says there is a problem with your house – roofing, siding, electrical, or driveway. They offer to fix the problem quickly at what seems like a reasonable cost. Once they have begun the work, however, major problems suddenly turn up that will cost more than the original estimate. Often the “experts” have created the damage themselves.

Before you let anyone work on your house, be sure to get several estimates for the repair. Ask for references. When buying from door-to-door salespeople, you have certain protections under the Federal Trade Commission’s “cooling off” rule. This rule gives you three business days to change your mind and to cancel any purchase of $25 or more that you made from your home or anywhere other than the seller’s normal place of business.

Fraud through the Mailbox

Stolen Checks

A major concern is the theft of checks from mailboxes and mail slots. Since, the mail carrier delivers social security checks on the same day each month, these and other predictable, routing payments are easy prey for theft. Stolen checks are easily turned into cash by thieves who know where to go and what to do.

The Social Security Administration strongly encourages direct deposit of checks. Seventy-five percent of those receiving social security benefits use direct deposit.

If you have any regularly scheduled payments, you should seriously consider direct deposit. Federal Reserve Banks and financial institutions process direct deposit transactions electronically through a national automated system. Contact CBBC about payments that are eligible.

Fake Contests

Fake contest are a prevalent form of mail fraud. You get a notice saying you have won a “free” trip, a TV, or even a car.To redeem your prize, you should send “X” number of dollars or bring the money to a certain place. In reality, prizes frequently do not exist, or if they do, only a very small number of them will be awarded.

Watch out for prizes that you have to pay for. Carefully examine any letters that look official or urgent.

 

How Not to Get Hooked by a 'Phishing' Scam

Internet scammers casting about for people's financial information have a new way to lure unsuspecting victims: They go "phishing" .

Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you deal with - for example, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message usually says that you need to "update" or "validate" your account information. It might threaten some dire consequence if you don't respond. The message directs you to a Web site that looks just like a legitimate organization's site, but it isn't. The purpose of the bogus site? 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.

The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the messag. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address. In any case, don't cut and paste the link in the message.
  • Don't email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's Web site, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Antivirus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Antivirus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically. A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Finally, your operating system (like Windows or Linux) may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
  • Report suspicious activity to the FTC. If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft. Visit www.ftc.gov/spam to learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues , visit http://www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.