Online Fraud

Phishing

"Phishing" is a term that is used to describe one of the fastest growing types of fraud. It typically involves a bogus e-mail message that uses legitimate materials, such as a company's graphics or logos, to entice recipients of the e-mail to provide personal financial information, such as credit card and social security numbers.

Columbia Bank will NEVER ask for your personal financial information via e-mail. If you receive such a request, IGNORE IT and contact us immediately.

Simple Precautions

  • Never respond to an unsolicited e-mail that asks for detailed financial information. Always know whom you are dealing with.
  • Report anything suspicious to the proper authorities. Alert the company or government agency identified in the suspect e-mail through a Web address or a telephone number that you know is legitimate.
  • You can also contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, if you think you have received a "phishing" e-mail or have been directed to a suspicious Website.

If You've Been Phished

  • Contact us immediately.
  • Contact the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and request that a Fraud Alert be placed on your credit report.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-382-4357).

Online Auction Fraud

Buying new or used merchandise via online auction is becoming popular, and there are many reputable companies conducting these auctions. However, as with any enterprise, disreputable companies or individuals are also out there. Being educated about what to look for can save you from being taken.

Prevention

  • Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer and what the seller's obligations are before you bid.
  • Find out what actions the Website/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
  • Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.
  • Examine the feedback on the seller.
  • Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.
  • If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult to resolve if the seller is located outside the United States because of the difference in laws from country to country.
  • Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and if there is a problem with the merchandise, is it covered by a warranty or can you exchange it.
  • Find out if shipping and delivery are included in the auction price, or if there are additional costs, so there are no unexpected additional charges.
  • There should be no reason to give out your Social Security number or driver's license number to the seller.

Non-Delivery of Merchandise

A common fraud is the non-delivery of items sold to you—this is much more prevalent when using the Internet to purchase items. These purchases are almost always solicited and originated by someone other than the buyer—in other words, the thieves approach the victim.

Prevention

  • Make sure you are purchasing from a reputable source.
  • Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
  • Try to obtain a physical address rather than a post office box and phone number. Call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
  • Send the seller an e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address and be wary of sellers who use free e-mail services where a credit card is not required to open the account.
  • Strongly consider not buying from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller's area.
  • Check out other Websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don't judge a person/company by their Website.
  • Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
  • Inquire about returns and warranties.
  • The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.
  • Consider utilizing an escrow or alternative payment service.

Online Investment Fraud

With the growing popularity of the Internet, and consumers' increasing use of online services to conduct business, it is a natural leap to see investment services or opportunities offered online. It is especially important to deal with known and reputable companies or organizations when investing online, if you do it at all.

Prevention

  • Don't invest in anything based on appearances. Just because an individual or company has a flashy Website doesn't mean it is legitimate. Websites can be created in just a few days. After a short period of taking money, a site can vanish without a trace.
  • Don't invest in anything you are not absolutely sure about. Do your homework on the investment to ensure that it is legitimate.
  • Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Check out other Websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don't judge a person/company by their Website.
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers—especially through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies outside of your own country.
  • Inquire about all the terms and conditions.
  • If it sounds too good to be true—it almost always is.

Online Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is on the rise as thieves become more sophisticated and consumers become more reliant on using their credit cards.

Credit Card Fraud Prevention

  • Don't give out your credit card number(s) online unless the site is secure and is reputable. Look for a tiny icon of a padlock on the bottom of the browser window that denotes a higher level of security to transmit data. The presence of the padlock is not a guarantee of a secure site, but might provide you some assurance.
  • Don't trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
  • Before using the site, check which security/encryption software it utilizes.
  • Make sure you are purchasing from a reputable source.
  • Do your homework on the individual/company to ensure that they are legitimate.
  • Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box and a phone number. Call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
  • Send them e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address and be wary of sellers who use free e-mail services where a credit card is not required to open the account.
  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller's area.
  • Check out other Websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don't judge a person/company by their Website.
  • Be cautious when responding to special offers—especially through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious when dealing with persons/companies from outside your own country.
  • The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.
  • You should also keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer's contact information. If anything looks suspicious or if you lose your credit card(s)—contact the issuer immediately.

Online Business Fraud

There is a vast amount of business being conducted online. By far the majority of it is legitimate business conducted by reputable companies large and small. However, the Internet is also an easy way for illegitimate "businesses" to reach you and rip you off. Always follow your instincts—if something doesn't seem right, stop and either discontinue the transaction entirely or take steps to confirm or deny your suspicions.

Prevention

  • Purchase merchandise from reputable dealers or establishments.
  • Try to obtain a physical address rather than just a post office box and a phone number; call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
  • Send them e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address.
  • Be wary of businesses that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card is not required to open the account.
  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won’t provide you with this or any other type of legitimate information.
  • Purchase directly from the individual/company that holds the trademark, copyright or patent.
  • Beware when responding to e-mail that may not have been sent by a reputable company.