Bank customers beware of scam e-mails

Published 1:50 am Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fraudulent e-mails are circulating that may be attempting to gather personal information or install malicious software on computers.

The Mississippi Bankers Association recently sent out a press release stating that e-mails have been circulating that allege that the customer’s bank has been found to be a failed bank.

In the e-mail, which has “Check your bank deposit insurance coverage” in the subject line, it is alleged that the bank the customer uses has been found to be a failed bank and the FDIC has taken control of its assets. The person is then asked to “visit the official FDIC website and perform the following steps to check your Deposit Insurance Coverage,” the release states. That message is not being sent by the FDIC and therefore the link does not go to that agency’s Web site.

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Instead, a link to a malicious Web site is included in the e-mail that people are instructed to click on. Once on the malicious site the user is instructed to download and open “your personal FDIC Insurance file to check your Deposit Insurance Coverage,” the release states.

The release states that the e-mail and associated Web site are fraudulent and anyone receiving the message should not provide any personal information. The e-mail is considered to be an attempt to gain access to the banking customer’s online banking services or to use that information for identity theft purposes, the release states.

Jeff Theiler, senior vice president of payment services for Hancock Bank said while he is not aware of any Hancock Bank customers receiving the e-mail, he suggests that customers of any bank not provide information to unsolicited forms of communication. Theiler said Hancock Bank uses a surveillance system on its Web site to look for possible phishing attacks. When such threats are found, they are posted on the Web site for customers to see.

That service has cut short the length of phishing attacks by notifying people before the attack gets to them, thereby putting the attack out of commission.

“If we prepare, then we can stay ahead of the fraudsters,” Theiler said.

Representatives with other local banks did not respond to attempts to contact them by press time Friday afternoon. However, an IT employee with First National Bank and a representative with Bank Plus both said they had not heard of any customers receiving the e-mails.