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Bank Tellers stealing Identities

Ever consider the possibility that a person gets a job as a bank teller…for the sole purpose of stealing a patron’s identity?

Do you realize how easy this would be?

  • No techy hacking skills required.
  • No gun required.

So we’ve all been instilled with fear of our bank getting data breached by Russian hacking rings, while that mousy looking teller with the sweet smile could be your greatest threat.

A nytimes.com article points out that a teller from Capital One had gained access to seven accounts and gave information to a co-thief who drew checks on these accounts.

Tellers can fake debit cards and wire unauthorized funds. They can also sell personal data to other thieves.

The nytimes.com article says that a teller was part of an ID theft ring that stole $850,000. The idea of tellers committing these thefts is very real. One teller even took photos with a cell phone of account data to cash phony checks. Another thief, who worked at a credit union, took loans out in customer’s names.

There are many ways that tellers can steal, including creating credit cards in customer’s names. Tellers may also be easily bribed by thieves to sell them customer information, as the tellers’ income isn’t that great, averaging about $25,000 a year.

The thieves, who bribe the tellers, don’t necessarily pay them with money. They may offer them luxuries that the teller can only dream of, such as flying in private jets and meeting famous athletes, says the nytimes.com report.

And if you think that banks require rigorous background checks for new teller  hires…think again. Furthermore, continues the article, savvy thief-tellers will keep their fraudulent withdrawals under $10,000, to keep below the detection radar. These sneaks can get away with this for years.

The general rule of thumb is that tellers have way too much access to customers’ data, and banks are lax at correcting this problem beyond simply reimbursing customers with their stolen money. The banks don’t want to invest the money and time in straightening out this problem, though a small number of banks have implemented tighter controls on tellers.

But what can we, the customer, do? We just have to keep our fingers crossed? The most effective way to prevent fraud is to do two things:

  1. Go over your accounts security controls with a bank advisor. Set up limits on transactions, require second signatures for large dollar amounts, and restrict money flow in any way that will cause financial harm.
  2. Set up alerts and notifications, so you, the account holder can become fully aware of every transaction of any kind.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

Protect from Personal Loan Scam

Are you thinking of getting a personal loan? Hopefully you have a high credit score, as this will give you a better chance of getting the loan through a legitimate company. But even if your credit is excellent, you need to be aware of the personal loan scams out there.

2DNot Respecting Your Limit

  • You don’t want to do business with a lender that pressures you into borrowing more than you can handle

Upfront Payment

  • You should never have to pay any fees for the application process. If you’re requested to do this, move on.

Pumped up Interest Rate

  • Know what the going interest rate is. A good lender will quote you near this average rate.
  • A bad lender will recognize the desperation of the applicant with bad credit and try to sock them with an abnormally high interest rate.

Us and Only Us

  • Be suspicious of lenders that don’t like the idea of you shopping around for better rates.
  • This is a red flag that they have questionable loan practices.

Location, Location

  • An honest, legitimate lender or bank has a verifiable physical address. Get this confirmed with Google maps.
  • If you can’t, move on. But know that even a predatory lender may have a very solid physical address.

Solicitations

  • As in ones you didn’t request. Watch out for banks that send you unsolicited invitations for a personal loan application.

 

Don’t Be Intimidated

  • Because a seedy outfit may want to scare you into closing on their loan. But they can’t do anything to you, even if they use the term “legal action.”
  • If you want to reject their loan offer, then do so.

SSN

  • Does the lender want your Social Security number? This is fine if they’re wanting to do a credit check.
  • If they’re not doing a credit check but want your SSN, move on.

Signing Empty Documents

  • Do not sign anything that does not have the interest rate, terms, loan amount, monthly payment and other crucial information.
  • Before signing anything, make sure there are no blank areas that can be filled in later.
  • Run if the lender wants you to sign something that’s missing information.

Guaranteed!

  • Is a bank guaranteeing your personal loan? Sounds great, right?
  • Not so fast. They cannot do this if they have not verified your financial history or credit history.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

Bank Account depleted, Company sues

Is it Bank of America’s fault that a hospital was hacked and lost over a million dollars? Chelan County Hospital No. 1 certainly thinks so, reports an article on krebsonsecurity.com. In 2013, the payroll accounts of the Washington hospital were broken into via cyberspace.

4HBank of America got back about $400,000, but the hospital is reeling because the hospital says the bank had been alerted by someone with the Chelan County Treasurer’s staff of something fishy. The bank processed a transfer request of over $600,000—even though the bank was told that this transfer had not been authorized.

In short, some say Bank of America failed to follow contractual policies. And what does the bank have to say for this? They deny the lawsuit allegations. They deny brushing off the hospital’s alert that the wire transfer was not authorized.

This scenario has been replicated many times over the past five years, says the krebsonsecurity.com article. Hackers use Trojans such as ZeuS to infiltrate banks. And not surprisingly, phishing e-mails are the weapon of choice.

Though bank consumers are protected from being wiped out by hackers as long as they report the problem within 60 days, businesses like hospitals don’t have this kind of protection. The business victim will need to sue the bank to recoup all the stolen money. Legal fees will not be covered by the defendant, and they are enormous, which is why it’s not worth it to sue unless the amount stolen is considerable.

Businesses and consumers should:

  • Require that family and employees from the ground up complete security training that includes how to recognize phishing e-mails.
  • Stage phishing attacks to see how well everyone learned their security training
  • Retrain those who fell for the staged attacks
  • Make it a rule that more than one person is required to sign off on large transfers
  • Know in advance that the bank will not reimburse for most of the stolen money in a hacking incident, and that legal fees for suing can exceed the amount of money stolen.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

What happens when a Bank Account is hacked?

Who’d ever think that 50 years ago, your money was safer in your bank account than it is today in this “modern” age: remote theft. If you bank with a large or small bank, your account may be at risk by hacking rings.

7WHowever, most of the time, but not always, if your account is drained by a cyber thief, the bank will cover it for you.

The latest information is that a big attack is planned in the spring, but it’s the “It’s easier to get one dollar from a million people than it is to get a million bucks from one person” type of attack plan. The apparent hacking plan involves stinging mass numbers of banking customers via the customers’ computers.

Because banks are a favorite target for cyber thieves, financial institutions are always improving their cyber security. However, criminals get into bank accounts by suckering customers into revealing personal information; we’re talking thieves who don’t directly hack the bank, but hack YOU.

  • Never click links inside e-mails—including those that SEEM to be coming from PayPal, Chase or whatever institution you use.
  • Typically, these scam messages are constructed by thieves posing as your bank. They tell you your account is about to be compromised, or there are suspicious withdrawals or something else to grab your attention, and that to correct the problem, you must visit their site and enter some information. This is a scam to get your login information! The phony site that the link goes to is constructed to look exactly like the authentic bank sites.
  • If you’re not convinced these scammy e-mails you got have gone to a million other people, then phone your bank and inquire about the message.
  • Never use the “remember your computer” option that banks offer. Forget the convenience; just deal with the login hassle every time for better security.
  • Don’t hide your savings in your house because you figure they’re safer there. If you follow the aforementioned rules, your money will be far safer in your bank than hidden inside your toddler’s teddy bear.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

Hackers and Banks win, Clients lose

Don’t blame the hackers; don’t blame the bank; apparently it’s the victim’s fault that a Missouri escrow firm was robbed of $440,000 in a cybercrime, says a report on computerworld.com.

11DThe attack occurred in 2010, but the appeals court’s March 2013 ruling declared that the firm, Choice Escrow and Title LLC, can’t hold its bank accountable. The victimized firm might even have to pay the bank’s attorney fees. The court says that the firm failed to abide by the bank’s recommended security procedures.

BancorpSouth Bank was sued by Choice Escrow following a cyber assault in which the password and username to the firm’s online bank account was stolen.

The victim asserted that the bank failed to implement sufficient security measures, allowing the attack to take place. The firm also insisted that the bank should have detected that the wire transfer of the money to Cyprus was fraudulent because it was initiated outside the U.S.—an unprecedented type of transaction.

BancorpSouth’s defense was that Choice Escrow failed to instill the security precautions for wire transfers that the bank recommended.

At first it seems like the bank here is bucking culpability, but according to the bank:

  • It had controls in place for Choice Escrow to use.
  • The bank requested that the firm use a dual-control process for wire transfer requests that would require two people to sign.
  • The bank asked the firm to enforce an upper limit on wire transfers.
  • Choice failed to follow these two recommendations.

The bank also points out that the wire transfer was started by someone who used the firm’s legitimate banking credentials, along with a computer that seemed to belong to the company. Had the company followed the bank’s recommendations, the crime may not have occurred.

Stealing legitimate banking credentials and using them to initiate criminal wire transfers to overseas accounts is nothing new to cyber criminals. This crime causes disputes between banks and their customers and heightens awareness over how much responsibility each entity should carry.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

10 Simple Tips to Bank Safely Online

One of the issues I’m passionate about, as an online-security analyst, is that of banking safely online; so I recommend the following simple tips to help ensure your security in cyberspace.4H

  1. Wired ethernet link. This offers more security than does a powerline or Wi-Fi network. In fact, the powerline carries your data via electrical wires—not secure at all. Data from wires can leak into adjacent homes, and Wi-Fi signals are out in the open, literally. An ethernet attack, however, may require a home break-in by the crook, and then he has to set up his device.
  2. Nevertheless, powerline and Wi-Fi do come with encryption capabilities; encryption scrambles data for safer online banking. Any attacker would need your password to infiltrate. But remember this: Wi-Fi’s WEP, which is obsolete, can be hacked into, even though it’s still offered as an option for router setup.
  3. Do not leave a router on its default password. Otherwise, crooks can get in and redirect your traffic to who knows where.
  4. Never trust third-party Wi-Fi hotspots.
  5. Make sure that the financial site you visit has a padlock icon and “https” before the URL address; this means it’s secure and legitimate. “Http” (no “s”) is not secure.
  6. Keep up to date on security updates for your browser and operating system. This will protect against a crook who uses a keylogger to track your keystrokes. With a keylogger, a hacker can get your keystroke pattern and will figure out your passwords.
  7. Never click on links in e-mails. Even if it’s supposedly from your bank. Never.
  8. To really beef up online banking security, use a separate computer just for online banking.
  9. Enable your financial institution’s two-step verification. This is typing in a password that’s one-time, that gets texted to you. Unfortunately, many banks don’t have this tactic. But if you’re concerned with banking safely on the Internet, see if your institution does. If you can’t find this information on their web site, call them.
  10. One more simple tip about safe online banking: Hotspot Shield VPN service guards your entire online experience when you’re using unprotected networks, such as at coffee houses, hotels, airports, etc., be they wired or wireless.

You can have peace of mind that your web sessions (downloads, filling out forms, shopping, banking) are safe and secure with the https-protected tool. With Hotspot Shield, all mobile data is encrypted. Hotspot Shield also has a mobile version, and it compresses bandwidth so that you can download nearly double the content at the same cost. This VPN service has saved 102.9 million megabytes.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Banks and Retailers fight it out over Who’s at fault

The duking out between banks and retailers was launched this past December when a credit card data breach occurred to an estimated 110 customers of a big retail store.

1CIs the retailer responsible? Should the credit card issuers or banks take the brunt of preventive action? What about the consumer? Lawmakers are trying to figure out what can be done to keep the consumer’s data safe from hackers.

The 110 million breach aside, the generality is that the big tripod (banks, retailers, credit card issuers) doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of shared responsibility when it comes to protecting consumers’ data.

James Reuter of the American Bankers Association points out that banks tend to take the brunt of the responsibility with data breaches, way more than what banks are even accountable for. Banks “are making customers whole,” he says.

Meanwhile, retailers are all banding together saying that the customers have zero liability. Retailers know that the banks will swoop in and bear much more financial burden than they’re actually responsible for.

Reuter believes whichever entity—be it a retailer, card company or even bank—is responsible for hacking due to lame protection strategies, should take full responsibility.

Banks really want retailers to step up to the plate too. Forty-six states already have standards for businesses to inform customers of data breaches. However, banks would like a federal standard. Senators Tom Carper and Roy Blunt have introduced such a bill.

After a breach may be too late:

The customers of the breached retailer in December didn’t just have their credit card numbers taken, but other data such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Once hackers have these, they have more tools with which to drum up identity theft schemes—something they can’t do with just a credit card number.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

Banking and Brokerage Accounts vulnerable to “Account Takeover”

It wasn’t pretty: those fairly recent credit card breaches at a few big-name retailers. As newsworthy as these were, they’re actually not the greatest risk for wealthy folks; a bigger foe is a money management firm lacking sufficient checks and balances.

3DAttack schemes:

Another type of attack can hit an organization hard: some cyber punk getting into your clients e-mail account, then using their stolen information to rob money from the clients financial accounts. E-mail related fraud is booming.

Perhaps the biggest scheme is when an employee gets an e-mail in which someone is requesting money—and urgently. Often, the employee is lured into clicking on a link inside the e-mail, and the end result is that the employee ultimately reveals personal data, allowing the system to get hacked.

Another common realm of infiltration is via unsecured public wireless networks, such as at an airport or hotel. Fraudsters will set up hot spots—fake, of course—that yield Internet access but will ensnare employee data.

Employees can also expose their accounts to hacking by using their e-mail address to log into their own financial accounts. This makes the job easier for cybercriminals.

Protect Your Business

Here are some ways to add protection:

Revamp how employees wire money for clients (one way to do this is to require that the recipient’s authenticity be verified with a phone call).

Clients should verify any and all wire transfers from their accounts.

If a client’s computer is not recognized or has an unfamiliar IP address, the client should be called with a code that completes the transaction.

Incorporate multifactor authentication in the login process and when transfers of any substantial amount are made.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

One-Third of Banking Account Takeover Attempts Successful

The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), which works with the Department of Homeland Security, has released a study indicating that attacks on customer bank accounts have increased considerably in recent years.

The FS-ISAC, in collaboration with the American Bankers Association, surveyed large financial institutions to collect data on fraud attempts. The responding banks reported a combined 314 break-in attempts in 2011, up from 239 in 2010 and 87 in 2009.

Roughly one third of these attempts were successful in fraudulently transferring money out of hacked customer accounts, with institutions losing a total of $777,064, which is actually a decrease from $3.12 million in 2010. Customers lost only $489,672 in 2011, down from $1.16 million in 2010.

While less money was ultimately siphoned from banks and customers than in past years, there are new attack strategies on the horizon, which may push these numbers up in 2012. Threats, defenses, and vulnerabilities continually emerge, so stay tuned as we track the shifts in our evolving security landscape.

When asked what they were doing to prevent fraud and theft, banks’ three most common responses were:

  • Increased customer education
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Anomalous behavior detection

This year, the FFIEC updated the security requirements recommended for banks. One of the recommendations encourages financial institutions to employ complex device identification. Oregon-based security firm iovation goes a step further offering device reputation technology, which builds on device identification by offering real-time risk assessments, exposing any history of fraud associated with a particular device or group of devices, and investigating relationships between devices and accounts that have been associated with fraud in order to expose fraudsters working in cahoots to steal from online businesses.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses identity theft  in front of the National Speakers Association. (Disclosures)

Regulation E Protects Consumers, Not Businesses

Consumers enjoy a certain level of protection that business bank accounts do not, and it’s called “Regulation E.”

Here is Regulation E in black and white:

ELECTRONIC FUND TRANSFERS (REGULATION E)

Limitations on amount of liability. A consumer’s liability for an unauthorized electronic fund transfer or a series of related unauthorized transfers shall be determined as follows:

1. Timely notice given. If the consumer notifies the financial institution within two business days after learning of the loss or theft of the access device, the consumer’s liability shall not exceed the lesser of $50 or the amount of unauthorized transfers that occur before notice to the financial institution.

2. Timely notice not given. If the consumer fails to notify the financial institution within two business days after learning of the loss or theft of the access device, the consumer’s liability shall not exceed the lesser of $500 or the sum of:

(i) $50 or the amount of unauthorized transfers that occur within the two business days, whichever is less.”

Businesses do not get this kind or protection. So when business accounts are compromised, they often have to fight for their money. And today, more than ever, they are losing. But banks are losing, too. The only winners here are the criminal hacking enterprises.

In order to meet the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s compliance guidelines by January of 2012, banks must implement multiple layers of security. Called out in the recent FFIEC guidance was using complex device identification and moving to out-of-wallet questions. 

Financial institutions and their clients aren’t only losing millions to fraud; they are losing millions more fighting each other. It makes more sense for banks to beef up security (all while properly managing friction for legitimate customers) than to battle with their customers.

Financial institutions could protect users and themselves by incorporating device identification, device reputation, and risk profiling services to keep cyber criminals out. Oregon-based iovation Inc. offers the world’s leading device reputation service, ReputationManager 360, which is used by leading financial institutions such as credit issuers and banks, to help mitigate these types of risk in their online channel.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses another databreach on Fox News. Disclosures