Sunday, October 14, 2007


“ Your Online Banking is Blocked !
Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on you account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on you account. So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security. Please click on sign in to Online Banking to continue to the verification process and ensure your account security. It is all about your security.
Thank you. and visit the customer service section. “

I opened my email and discovered this disturbing official notification from one of the largest banks in the United States . For Expatiates living here, a block on their bank account could mean a personal financial disaster. How would you pay your rent? How would you buy food? How would they re-new their passport?

Many people would have clicked on the link and immediately tried to resolve the problem. Unfortunately what would probably happen is that they would have every dollar in their bank account stolen!

My first clue that this was a possible hoax is the fact; I have no account with this famous international bank. Now, it is possible that someone has stolen my identity and opened a new account; but then why would they contact me instead of the person who stole my identity? In addition to this anomaly, I have placed a special alert with all credit bureaus. The credit bureau is directed to report to me, immediately, all “new” accounts. I have received no such notification. A check with them shows no such account has been opened.

So what is going on here? Look at the notice. This notice is purportedly from one of the largest banks in the world. This notice has at least sixteen grammatical, punctuation and syntax errors. One error is possible, but sixteen is ridiculous for a bank of this stature. Obviously the people who composed this message, not only do not work for the bank, but it would appear English is their second language.

If you click on this link you open your computer to these criminals. They can place a “key-stoke” virus on your machine and steal your identity. If you complete the form you will give the crooks direct access to your personal bank account. They then can steal all the money you have in your account.

Anytime you receive a notice supposedly from a legitimate business (EBay, Bank of America etc.) instead of using the link provided, contact the business through a different route. Ask the business directly if the notice is legitimate. My experience is that these notices never are legal. Responsible businesses never give you a link and demand passwords or account numbers. They always just ask you to contact them as soon as possible.

I suggest you contact the three largest credit bureaus and have them place your account on “alert”. Request they contact you in the event any new accounts are added to your record. Also request a copy of your account and clean it up. There are procedures for removing obsolete or inaccurate information. The first step in preventing identity theft is prevention.

Finally, be VERY cautious about what you send over the internet. Never send passwords and account numbers through links even to what may appear to be a legitimate web site. On the rare occasion you need to transmit this data, go directly to the companies’ web site and access them through a secured system. I access my bank through two levels of security. In addition I constantly scan my computer for “key-stroke” viruses. Once your identity is stolen you can never get it back. Be an Everyday Hero, protect yourself and educate your friends.

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