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Online Security Updates

Online Security Updates

Below are links to the latest updates we routinely send our Online Banking customers about a variety of online security topics.

How to Protect Yourself from Romance Scams this Valentine’s Day

Millions of people use online dating sites, mobile apps and social networking sites to find romance. As the number of people looking to meet new people online grows, so does the opportunity for fraud. Scammers also use these sites to meet potential victims. They use emotional appeals to gain their victims’ trust and then exploit it.

Romance scammers create fake profiles designed to lure you in. They use fake photos taken from the internet and often appear very attractive. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identity of real, trusted individuals such as military personnel. The scammer often claims to be a U.S. citizen working or serving abroad and uses this excuse to explain why they cannot meet in person. This scam is typically known as “catfishing.”

Romance scammers are very good at what they do. They ask a lot of questions to their victims about their interests and what they are looking for out of life. They use this information to portray themselves as the perfect match for you, expressing strong emotions for you in a short period of time. They will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, showering you with loving words, sharing very personal information, and even sending gifts. They often pretend to book flights to visit, but come up with excuses as to why they can’t actually make it.

Once they have gained your trust, they will ask you for money or for details about your bank and credit card accounts. They may also ask you to cash checks for them and provide reasons why they can’t cash the check themselves. The scammer often claims to need money for some sort of personal emergency. They may also claim that they want to visit you, but cannot unless you send them money to do so.

Any online love interest who asks for money, your bank or credit card account details, or to cash checks for them is almost certainly a scam artist.

Follow these tips to help protect yourself from a romance scam:

  • Do not send money to someone you met online for any reason. Remember that wiring money is the same as sending cash. Once it is sent, it is gone forever.
  • Never provide your bank or credit card account information to anyone. If you provided this information to someone, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately.
  • Do not cash checks for anyone that you do not personally know and trust. Although the funds may be made available to you for withdraw, it can take days for a check to come back as being bad and you will be left responsible for reimbursing the bank.
  • If you did fall victim to a romance scam, contact your local police department to report it. You should also contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov

As a final note, romance scammers may claim to have actually fallen in love with you when they are found out. Don’t fall for it. Report them to the dating site so others won’t be drawn in.

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