Nearly all banks offer online banking and electronic payment systems to their customers, and there are many benefits to using this technology. Unfortunately, criminals have developed increasingly sophisticated methods of stealing money from customer accounts. Intrusion into computer systems for criminal purposes, also known as “cybercrime”, is becoming more prevalent.
In recent years, the theft of bank deposits has become a one billion-dollar business for sophisticated “cyber-gangs” operating on a global scale. Cash losses from traditional bank robberies are now far less than digital losses attributable to cybercrime.
Cybercrime can be committed over the internet from virtually anywhere in the world, but it is a particularly well-developed business in parts of Eastern Europe and Asia. Cybercriminals are adept at duping careless or unsuspecting computer users into downloading malicious software programs known as spyware onto their computers.
A common ploy is to send out an innocent looking e-mail with an attachment or website link that, if opened, will download spyware onto the recipient’s computer. The cybercriminal then uses the spyware to monitor the victim’s browsing activity and computer keystrokes. Eventually, the cybercriminal will have enough information to initiate a fraudulent transaction.
The information stolen from a computer can potentially be used for identity theft, including the ability to utilize the victim’s e-mail account. Even worse, the stolen information could include the log in codes needed to directly access the victim’s electronic payment systems.
In recent years, Valley Business Bank has received e-mails purportedly from customers requesting transfers of funds from their accounts for what appeared to be legitimate business purposes.
Unfortunately, the customer e-mail accounts had been compromised by cybercriminals operating over the internet. After gaining access to the customer e-mail accounts, the cybercriminals used the information to put together a very convincing transaction request. Valley Business Bank’s control processes and knowledge of our customers fortunately prevented losses from these incidents, but we are aware of some very significant losses that have occurred in the Central Valley and across the United States as a result of cybercrime.
Of course, there is a lot more that can be said about the issues of cybercrime and identity theft. Valley Business Bank has produced a comprehensive brochure that elaborates the preventative measures listed above and how to proceed if you are a victim of cybercrime or identity theft. It is available free of charge from any Valley Business Bank branch office.
The FDIC does not insure your deposits if you are a victim of cybercrime or identity theft. With fraudulent activity on the rise, businesses and consumers have little choice but to maintain a strong awareness of these issues.
What can you do to protect yourself from cybercrime and identity theft? Here are the basic rules:
- Never respond to a request for personal information even if it looks official.
- Be suspicious of all e-mail correspondence.
- Prevent the theft of your regular mail.
- Dispose of sensitive information safely.
- Protect your computer from spyware.
- Protect your PIN numbers and other passwords.
- Always use a secure website for online transactions.
- Don’t be careless with the portable devices and information you carry on a daily basis.
- Monitor your account information and billing statements.
- Review your credit report at least annually.