Some months ago, Salisbury Bank Senior Vice President Diane Farrell wrote a cautionary letter to Salisbury Bank customers after her credit card was cloned and used to make high-end purchases. In light of a recent rash of local credit and debit/ATM card frauds, that letter seems especially timely. So Salisbury Bank is reaching out again to its customers and the community, offering additional tips and professional guidance on how to avoid being the victim of credit card fraud, how to spot a problem, and how to handle it.
The most recently reported cases have involved purchases made with debit and credit card information stolen from a retail business. One of the salient points made by Salisbury representatives is that there are many ways for criminals to obtain credit card information – from installing hardware over an existing ATM slot, to hacking into computer systems, to digging through hotel trash. Once the information is obtained, it is relatively simple to encode it on a stolen or counterfeited card, or simply use it online.
“This is a multi-billion dollar problem in the world today,” says Rick Cantele, Salisbury Bank’s President and CEO. “We want our customers to be able to protect themselves from being defrauded of their money.” He makes the point that no matter what the amount, this type of fraud is a violation of privacy – and often a huge inconvenience as the victim must cancel the card and transfer any ongoing transactions (such as cable bills or car payments) onto the replacement.
Salisbury Bank offers steps to avoid becoming a victim
Information sent out to Salisbury Bank customers, highlights five steps people can take to prevent having their debit or credit card information stolen.
- At the retail store: Never let an employee take your card out of sight (they could have a machine with pirating software under the counter or in another room) and never let them run your card through more than one terminal.
- At the ATM, gas pump or convenience store: If a terminal looks suspicious (particularly if there is a device retrofitted over the slot), don’t use it…and keep your PIN hidden from prying eyes (or cameras).
- Online: Use online banking to monitor your checking account daily. And take advantage of email alerts of suspicious activity if your bank offers them.
- At home: IMMEDIATELY examine every credit card statement to catch any unauthorized transactions.
- Wherever you are: Stay on top of your credit report to make sure nobody is using your accounts. You can get a free copy from each of the three credit reporting agencies every year. This means you can check ONE agency every four months at no charge. The official website for free annual credit reports is www.annualcreditreport.com .
If you do become a victim…
If an ATM, debit or credit card is lost, stolen or cloned, you should immediately call the issuer to report the theft of credit card information. This should be followed by a written report to the credit card company. Rick Cantele explains, “Federal law guarantees that consumers won’t have to pay more than $50.00 of any fraudulent charges – if the issuer is notified promptly. And many cards offer 100% fraud protection, which means you won’t have to pay for any charges at all as long as you report the fraud as soon as you discover it.”
The next step is filing a complaint with the local police and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in case your theft is part of a larger scam. It is also possible (for a small fee) to request a freeze from the major credit bureaus on new credit authorizations to prevent the thief from using your name for more credit.
“I was lucky, in a way,” Diane Farrell concludes. “My credit card issuer caught the fraud and alerted me right away. But from now on, I’ll be proactive on my own account. The message I’d like to convey is that it’s necessary for everyone – including banking professionals – to be aware of the possibility of credit fraud and protect themselves.”
Salisbury Bank is a full-service community bank headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut and presently operates full service branches in Canaan, Lakeville, Salisbury and Sharon, Connecticut, Sheffield and South Egremont Massachusetts as well as Dover Plains and Millerton, New York. The Bank has been serving families and businesses for 160 years and offers a full range of consumer and business banking products and services as well as trust and investment services.