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Banking Security Alerts

First National Bank of Hico is making great efforts to protect our customers from the many Banking Scams in the industry today.  Along with our friends at SCAMWATCH.GOV, we have compiled a list of the most popular scams in order to further educate our customers.



'Nigerian 419' scams


You are promised huge rewards if you help someone transfer money out of their country by paying fees or giving them your bank account details.  A ‘Nigerian’ scam is a form of upfront payment or money transfer scam. They are called Nigerian scams because the first wave of them came from Nigeria, but they can come from anywhere in the world. The ‘4-1-9’ part of the name comes from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which outlaws the practice.


The scammers usually contact you by email or letter and offer you a share in a large sum of money that they want to transfer out of their country. They may tell you about money trapped in central banks during civil wars or coups, often in countries currently in the news. Or they may tell you about massive inheritances that are difficult to access because of government restrictions or taxes in the scammer’s country.


Scammers ask you to pay money or give them your bank account details to help them transfer the money. You are then asked to pay fees, charges or taxes to help release or transfer the money out of the country through your bank. These ‘fees’ may even start out as quite small amounts. If paid, the scammer make up new fees that require payment before you can receive your ‘reward’. They will keep making up these excuses until they think they have got all the money they can out of you. You will never be sent the money that was promised.

Warning signs

-  You receive an offer out of the blue to ‘help’ someone from another country transfer their money out of  

    their country (eg Sierra Leone, Nigeria or Iraq).  The offer sets out a long and often sad story about why

    the money cannot be transferred by the scammer. This usually involves an inheritance or profits from

    natural resources that the scammer might say they are trying to protect from taxes or a corrupt


-  You are offered a percentage of the total amount transferred in return for your assistance.  The amount

   of money to be transferred, and the payment that the scammer promises to you if you help, is usually

    very large.  The email or letter is in very polite, but broken English.
-  Protect yourself from Nigerian scams,  If it looks too good to be true—it probably is. 
-  Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: the only people who make money are the


-  Do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions about money or investments: always     

   get independent financial advice. 
-  Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam): delete them.  NEVER reply to a spam email

   (even to unsubscribe). 
-  Never send your personal, credit card or online account details through an email. 
-  Money laundering is a criminal offence: do not agree to transfer money for someone else.


Phoney fraud alerts

Scammers pretend to be from your bank or financial institution and tell you that there is a problem with your account. They ask for your account details to protect your money, but then use these details to steal your money.


What is a phoney fraud alert? A phoney fraud alert is similar to a phishing scam. It can come in the form of an email or a phone call claiming to be from your bank or financial institution. The scammer will usually tell you that your credit card or account has been cancelled because it was involved in criminal activity, or because they suspect your card or details have been stolen. This is a trick to get you to given them your account details.


You will be told that a suspicious transaction has recently occurred on your account, perhaps a large purchase in a foreign country. You will be told that if you did not authorise the transaction, you need to take immediate action as your credit card details have been stolen.


The scammer will ask you to confirm your credit card or account details so the ‘bank’ can ‘investigate’. If you receive an email, it may ask you to visit a website to confirm your credit card details or to find out more information on the supposed ‘fraud’ to your account./In some variations of this scam, the scammer may already have your credit card number (that they have stolen previously), and may even quote this to you. They will then ask you to confirm that you are the cardholder by telling them the 3 or 4 digit security number printed on the card. If the scammers have this number, they can use your card to buy things over the internet or phone.


These phoney fraud investigations are used to steal your banking details so the scammers can use your account. They work by lowering your guard with the phoney fraud alert. They hope that you panic and do what they suggest to fix the ‘problem’. They are particularly tricky to spot because real banks and credit unions often do contact people if there has been suspicious activity on their account.



Top Warning signs

-  You receive an email or a phone call from somebody saying they are from your bank, asking you about

    recent activity on your credit card or account. 

-  You are asked to confirm your credit card and bank account details by return email, visiting a website

    or over the phone. 

-  The caller or the email claims that there has been fraudulent activity found on your bank account, or

    that your card has been cancelled. 

-  You may be advised to contact a fake fraud investigations body, and discouraged from contacting your

    bank or credit union.



Card skimming


Card skimming is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card. This can create a fake or ‘cloned’ card with your details on it.  What is card skimming?  ‘Card skimming’ is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card. It is a more direct version of a phishing scam.  The scammers try to steal your details so they can access your accounts. Once scammers have skimmed your card, they can create a fake or ‘cloned’ card with your details on it. The scammer is then able to run up charges on your account.  Card skimming is also a way for scammers to steal your identity (your personal details) and use it to commit identity fraud. By stealing your personal details and account numbers the scammer may be able to borrow money or take out loans in your name.



Warning signs

- A shop assistant takes your card out of your sight in order to process your transaction. 

-  You are asked to swipe your card through more than one machine.  You see a shop assistant swipe

    the card through a different machine to the one you used. 

-  You notice something suspicious about the card slot on an ATM (e.g. an attached device). 

-  You notice unusual or unauthorised transactions on your account or credit card statement.


Protect yourself from card skimming

-  Keep your credit card and ATM cards safe. Do not share your personal identity number (PIN) with

   anyone. Do not keep any written copy of your PIN with the card. 

-  Check your bank account and credit card statements when you get them. If you see a transaction you

   cannot explain, report it to your credit union or bank. 

-  Choose passwords that would be difficult for anyone else to guess.



Requests for your account information ('phishing' scams)


Phishing emails are fake emails usually pretending to be from banks or other financial institutions. They make up some reason for you to give your account details and then use these details to steal your money./What is phishing?


‘Phishing’ refers to emails that trick people into giving out their personal and banking information. These emails seem to come from legitimate businesses, normally banks or other financial institutions. The scammers are generally trying to get information like your bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers. This information is then used to steal your money.  Phishing messages and emails often look genuine. They seem to come from a financial institution or other company and they use what looks to be genuine internet addresses. They often copy an institution's logo and message format. This is very easy to do. It is common for phishing messages to contain links to a website that is a convincing fake of the real company's home page.


The website that the scammer’s email links to will have an address (URL) that is similar to but not the same as the real bank or financial institution’s site. For example, if the genuine site is at "", the scammer may use an address like "" or "".


Warning signs

-  You receive an email claiming to be from a financial institution. This message may seem to be from

    your bank or from a bank that you don’t have an account with. The email contains a link which leads

    you to a website where you are prompted to enter your bank account details. 

-  The email does not address you by your proper name. 

-  The email might contain typing errors and grammatical mistakes. 

-  The email might claim that your details are needed for a security and maintenance upgrade, to ‘verify’

    your account or to protect you from a fraud threat. The email might even state that you are due to

    receive a refund for a bill or other fee that it claims you have been charged.



Protect yourself from phishing scams

-  NEVER send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust. 

-  Do not give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made

   the call and the phone number came from a trusted source. 

-  Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam): delete them. 

-  Do not click on any links in a spam email, or open any files attached to them. 

-  Never call a telephone number that you see in a spam email. 

-  If you want to access an internet account website, use a bookmarked link or type the address in

   yourself: NEVER follow a link in an email. 

-  Check the website address carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with very similar


-  Never enter your personal, credit card or online account information on a website that you are not

   certain is genuine. 

-  Never send your personal, credit card or online account details through an email.



Cheque overpayment scams


You are sent a cheque for something you have sold, but it is for more than the amount agreed. The scammer hopes you will refund the extra money before you notice that their cheque has bounced.


What is a cheque overpayment scam?

If you are selling something over the internet or through the classifieds, you may be targeted by a cheque overpayment scam. You might receive an offer from a potential buyer (often quite generous) and accept it. The scammer then sends you a cheque, but the cheque is for more money than the agreed price.


The scammer will invent an excuse for the overpayment. For example, the scammer might tell you that the extra money is meant to cover the fees of an agent or extra shipping costs. The scammer might just say that it was a mistake they made when they wrote the cheque.


The scammer will then ask you to refund the excess amount—usually through an online banking transfer or a wire transfer (such as Western Union). The scammer is hoping that you will do this before you discover that their cheque has bounced. You will have lost the money you paid into their account, and if you have already sent the item you were selling, you will lose this as well. At the very least, the scammer will have wasted your time and prevented you from accepting any legitimate offers.



Warning signs

-  Somebody makes an offer to buy something you have for sale and wishes to pay more than the

   agreed price. 

-  You are sent a cheque in excess of the agreed price and asked to send the balance to a specific bank

   account or through a wire transfer.



Protect yourself against cheque overpayment scams

-  Use your common sense: the offer may be a scam. 

-  You can contact your local office of fair trading, ASIC or the ACCC for assistance. 

-  Make sure that cheques have been cleared by your bank before transferring or wiring any refunds or

   overpayments back to the sender.


Check out more scams on


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