Security & Fraud Prevention Center

If you suspect fraudulent activity on your accounts, have been a victim of identity theft, or if you receive a suspicious email, text or call that you think is from us, please contact our Call Center immediately:

Monday – Friday: 7 am – 7 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 9 am – 2 pm

The protection of your accounts and personal information is our highest priority. That's why it's our policy to never call you and ask you to tell us your account number, social security number, debit/credit card number, PIN number, or other personal information. If you receive a call like this, please hang up and call us at 800.797.6324.  We will be more than happy to help you determine if any form of contact from Mechanics Bank is authentic. When you do call us we will ask you to verify your identity through security measures set up at the time of your account opening.  If you would like to add additional security measures to your account at any time, please contact us.   

You can be your own best protection by following some simple guidelines and tips included on this page. First and foremost, be sure to always pay attention to the transactions that post to your account and report anything suspicious or unfamiliar to us immediately. 

If your account information or debit card information has been stolen or compromised, please contact us first, and then contact one of the three (3) major credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit report. Ask them to call you before opening new accounts or charging existing ones.

Report Fraud
Equifax (800) 685-1111
Experian (888) 397-3742
TransUnion (800) 888-4213

As required by law, the credit bureau you call will report the information to the other two (2) bureaus for you. Also be sure to:

  • Contact creditors by phone for any accounts that have been affected
  • Follow up with a letter, and keep copies of everything for yourself
  • Close any impacted accounts and change passwords on any existing accounts

Keeping you and your money safe is our number one priority!  We invite you to learn more by watching our video or checking out some of the tips below.

Online Privacy Policy under California law

Revised: March 2010

Maintaining your confidential financial information has been, and is today, an important part of our corporate culture, employee code of conduct, employee training, operating procedures, and privacy policy. We want you to understand the policies and procedures that we have developed to help protect the confidentiality of personal information about you. We hope these privacy disclosures will help you in this regard. This privacy notice discloses the privacy practices for, any affiliated websites owned and maintained by Mechanics Bank and the online banking services offered for both consumers and businesses.

Note: It is NOT the practice or the desire of Mechanics Bank to collect information about minors on this website. We respect the privacy of children and comply with the practices established under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. We do not knowingly collect or retain personally identifiable information from children. If you are under the age of 18, please do not apply for products or services on this website.

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. What this means for you: when you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information as described below that will allow us to identify you.

Personally identifiable information

We collect the following information from you when you use our online services:

If you sign up for Online Banking, we collect your:

  • Last name/business name
  • Email address
  • Contact phone number
  • Account number
  • Account type
  • A security question of your choosing
  • The answer to the security question above
  • Automated TeleBanking
  • Social security number

If you sign up for Online Bill Pay, we collect your:

  • First, middle and last name
  • Current address (city, state and zip code)
  • Home and daytime phone numbers
  • Checking account number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Information about your payees

If you apply to open a savings or checking account online, we collect your:

  • First, middle and last name
  • Current residential address (city, state and zip code)
  • Email address
  • Primary phone number
  • Social security number
  • Place of birth
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Current driver’s license/state ID with issue and expiration dates
  • Employment information

If you apply for a home loan online, we collect your:

  • Name
  • Current address (city, state and zip code)
  • Home and daytime/business phone numbers
  • Email address
  • Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • Marital or registered domestic partnership status
  • Employment information
  • Financial information, including
    • Income
    • Assets
    • Liabilities
    • Current housing costs
Information sharing

Our policy is that we do not disclose personally identifiable information about you to anyone, except as permitted by law or as disclosed in this notice. This means that we share information about you with others under certain circumstances specifically permitted by the laws that govern us. For example, we are permitted to share information

  • In order to service your loans or accounts
  • To respond to legal requirements
  • To report your credit, checking and transactional experience with us to consumer reporting agencies as permitted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • To companies which perform services for us, such as check printing or electronic banking services
  • To our regulators, accountants, auditors and others who assist us in preventing fraud or losses
  • To persons who may assist us in connection with selling the assets of our business; and to companies which perform marketing services on our behalf. This allows us to provide you with information about the products and services we offer, if we think you might be interested in them.

We do not share customer information with outside companies for the purpose of marketing non-financial products to you.

Your choice to limit customer information sharing and marketing

You may call our Client Services Center at 800.797.6324, Monday – Friday 7 am – 11 pm and Saturday and Sunday 7 am – 4 pm or stop by the nearest Mechanics Bank branch to ask us not to share customer information about you and to limit marketing by Mechanics Bank or affiliated companies. If you make this choice, it will apply to all of your accounts with us. Your choice will also apply until you tell us to change your choice. If you have previously told us your choice, you do not need to do so again.

  • We take precautions to protect your information. When you submit sensitive information via the website and within our online banking services, your information is protected both online and offline.
  • Wherever we collect sensitive information, that information is encrypted and transmitted to us in a secure way. You can verify this by looking for a closed lock icon at the top of your web browser, or looking for "https" at the beginning of the address of the web page.
  • While we use encryption to protect sensitive information transmitted online, we also protect your information offline. Only employees who need the information to perform a specific job (for example, billing or customer service) are granted access to personally identifiable information.
  • The computers/servers in which we store personally identifiable information are kept in a secure environment.
Changing your personally identifiable information
  • You may change your email address for online banking by logging onto Online Banking
  • You may change your email address for Bill Pay by logging Online Banking Bill Pay
  • You may change any other information by contacting us directly at 797.6324
Notification of changes
  • We reserve the right to amend the Online Privacy Policy at any time
  • We will post and inform you of the revised Online Privacy Policy by noting the latest revision date of the policy at the top
  • Any changes to this Online Privacy Policy will become effective upon the posting of the revised Online Privacy Policy on the website
  • By continuing to use the website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes
  • If you do not agree with the terms of this Online Privacy Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or in part, please do not continue using this website

How we protect you online

Mechanics Bank views the security of your personal information online as a top priority. When you login to any online banking system from our website home page, from other areas of our website, or through mobile banking, your User ID and Password (Online Banking/Mobile Banking) or Access ID and Password (Business Online Banking) are securely transmitted to our online system.

When you sign up for online banking or mobile banking access, you must create your own username and password to access your accounts. This information is encrypted during transmission.

Individualized passwords
  • We strongly recommend that you do not use your social security number, or other identifiable number like a birthdate as a username or password
  • Our Online Banking system utilizes additional password complexity requirements:
  1. Passwords should be between 8 and 20 characters
  2. Should include at least one number
  3. Should include at least one uppercase letter
  4. Should include at least one lowercase letter
  5. Should have at least one special character (a special character is anyone of the following: ! @ # $ % ^ & * _ + - = ( ) [ ] { } | : ; ` , . / ?)
  6. Cannot contain leading or trailing blanks
Login time out
  • Mechanics Bank Online Banking and Mobile Banking will automatically log you off after 20 minutes and five (5) minutes of inactivity, respectively (you have the ability to adjust your timeout in Online Banking, but not for Mobile Banking)
  • This reduces the risk of others accessing your information from your unattended computer, mobile, or tablet device
  • Mechanics Bank computer systems are protected 24 hours a day by a powerful firewall that blocks unauthorized entry
  • All Online Banking access and Bill Pay sessions are encrypted; Mechanics Bank has some of the strongest forms of encryption commercially available for use on the web today
  • During any transaction, our 128-bit and 256-bit encryption turns your information into a coded sequence with billions of possible variations, making it nearly impossible for unwanted intruders to decipher
  • Look for a "closed lock" icon on your browser to determine if encryption is being used on any web page you are viewing
  • Additionally, any website URL beginning with "https:” indicates the page you are viewing uses encryption
Email communication

Mechanics Bank will never send unsolicited emails asking clients to provide, update, or verify personal or account information such as passwords, social security numbers, PINs, credit or check card numbers, or other confidential information. Please report any emails that you receive asking you to update that information.

Additional browser security - Trusteer

To help protect you, we offer an additional layer of protection while banking online. Trusteer’s Rapport® from IBM® Security is a small, downloadable application that helps protect against financial malware attacks and fraudulent websites. Learn more about protecting yourself and your computer with Trusteer.

How to protect yourself

Protect yourself online
  • Keep your computer system and software up to date – be sure to confirm the updates are legitimate before clicking to install (check company website or call)
  • Use a firewall – firewall software can allow your computer to refuse undesired or suspicious connections and keep out potential hackers
  • Install and regularly update anti-virus and malware software on all of your devices
  • Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads
  • Use pop-up blockers on your browser
  • Always use a password on your device, and lock it when not in use
  • Protect your passwords
    • Never store passwords or personal information on a computer or device
    • Save a printed copy of your passwords in a safe, locked place
    • Never share a password or pin via email or text
    • Do not use the same password for different accounts
    • Mix numbers and symbols with letters to create a stronger password
    • Never use your social security number as a password
    • Change your password often
  • Be careful of misspellings when you type in a domain name or website address, especially for the first time
  • Watch what links you click on within emails: make sure it’s legitimate and from a trusted source
  • Do not install or run any program or app on your device unless you know it is from a legitimate and trusted source
  • Always log out of a program before switching to a new web page or site (including your online or mobile banking sessions)
  • Always make sure online shopping sites you use includes encryption (look for the “S” in the HTTPS of the website address or URL)
  • Be careful using public Wi-Fi services – they could be compromised

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team - Home and Business

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team - Securing Your Web Browser

Protect your business
  • Follow the same steps as you would for your own financial security
  • Utilize up-to-date virus protection and malware software
  • Monitor customer orders
  • Utilize Tokens to reduce the risk of key logging and wire fraud
  • Use Positive Pay to help identify and prevent check fraud
  • Reconcile monthly account statements quickly to check for suspicious activity
  • Set up separate accounts and provide limited employee access to prevent embezzlement
  • Utilize pre-employment screening and background check services
  • Contact your local Business Bankers – they would be happy to share additional tips on how to protect your business from fraud
Fraud prevention tips
  • Do not click on any suspicious links in an email – when in doubt, call us at 800.797.6324
  • If your credit or debit card is lost or stolen, report it immediately by calling us at 800.797.6324
  • Be aware of fraudulent emails (and SPAM) from senders that are posing as the Bank or any other company that asks for you to input or verify your personal and confidential information (account numbers, social security numbers, PIN, credit or debit card numbers). We will never ask you to provide this information via email or text.
  • Never send any of your personal and confidential information via email or text (account numbers, social security numbers, PIN, credit or debit card numbers). Always call the company and report it.
  • Be careful of scams such as Lottery, Inheritance, IRS/Taxes, and Foreign Government notices that can come via email, phone or mail. Never send money to person or an address that you haven’t confirmed is legitimate. See our Types of Fraud section below for more information.
  • Always know where your belongings are that contain your personal information (cell phones, tablets, laptops, purses, wallets, etc.). If left in the wrong hands even for a short time, your identity could be compromised.
  • Take additional steps to protect your identity, like credit monitoring services, online or mobile alerts for financial transactions, reviewing your credit report regularly, and shredding unneeded documents. For more tips, check out our Identity Theft section below.
  • Know the potential signs of Elder Financial Fraud:
    • New acquaintances gaining access to the financial accounts of an elderly person
    • Friends or family taking advantage when given authority to make legal decisions for an elderly person
    • Merchants, contractors, landlords and others charging the elderly higher prices or charging them for services not needed or never agreed upon

    Read more in our Types of Fraud section below.

Identity theft

Identity theft is when a thief uses your stolen personal information, such as a social security number or bank account and opens accounts or initiates fraudulent transactions in your name.

If fraudulent transactions occur on your account, contact the Bank immediately. While potentially damaging and certainly frightening, a fraudulent activity does not automatically mean your identity was stolen. It may be an isolated incident of theft that can be quickly resolved.

Identity Theft is a serious crime in today’s ever-increasing digital world. It can cause significant financial loss and damage your credit, which can take time, money and an enormous amount of patience to resolve. In order to protect yourself from Identity Theft, here are just a few ways in which thieves might try to obtain your identity:

  • Searching your trash: This is called “dumpster diving” – a term used to describe people who rummage through your trash to find un-shredded information like credit card offers, old bills and bank statements.
  • Intercepting your mail: Thieves can complete change of address forms and receive mail that’s intended for you.
  • Stealing your wallet or purse: Your wallet or purse can contain a wealth of information about you, including account numbers, address, date of birth, etc., and make it easy to open accounts in your name.
  • Accessing your employer’s files: Your place of work stores a lot of your personal and business information and can be targeted by identity thieves. Talk to your company’s security officer to learn how your information is protected.
  • Getting information directly from you: As discussed above, thieves may pose as telemarketers, send emails or create websites and pose as someone who might have a legitimate reason to ask you for your personal information.
Signs of Identity Theft

Identity Theft is dangerous because it can remain hidden for a relatively long time before it’s identified. Here are some signs to help you identity if you’ve been a target of Identity Theft:

  • Missing mail: A telling sign of identity theft is if you are missing mail or see a significant drop in the amount of mail you receive
  • Suspicious transactions: Monitor your accounts, statements and credit reports and look for unusual transactions. Online and Mobile Banking are a great way to monitor your accounts
  • Unexpected declines: Be alert to any unexpected declines for a loan or mortgage, despite your good credit. A safe practice is to get a copy of your credit report to review every six months
  • Strange collection calls: Calls from a collection agency you don’t recognize are another sign that someone has stolen your identity
  • New credit cards: Receiving a credit card that you haven’t applied for in the mail could be a sign that someone has attempted to steal your identity
How to protect yourself from Identity Theft
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service
    Many legitimate companies provide this service and can alert you to changes in your credit report, tell you when new accounts have been opened, or alert you to unusual activity on various accounts.
  • Sign the back of your credit and debit cards
    Or place SEE ID on the signature line. This minimizes the possibility of someone else using your card.
  • Keep your credit card receipts
    Don’t throw your receipts away until you have double checked your bank and card statements and identify any suspicious activity.
  • Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately
    If you lose your credit or debit card, or if they’re stolen, don’t waste any time in reporting it to the issuing company.
  • Cancel and destroy all unused or expired cards
    Call the bank to cancel the cards and destroy the cards before throwing them away. When you destroy the cards make sure the numbers are no longer recognizable.
  • Leave out personal information on your checks
    Don’t include your driver’s license number, telephone or social security numbers on your checks.
  • Promptly collect incoming mail
    Your incoming mail has lots of clues to your personal information. Make sure you collect it promptly.
  • Shred your junk mail
    Make sure you shred all your junk mail before you throw it away, especially credit card offers which could contain confidential information.
  • Don’t drop your outgoing mail in your mailbox
    It is safer to drop your outgoing mail in an official Postal Service collection box than leaving it in your mailbox.
  • Review your credit reports regularly
    Make sure they’re error-free. There are three (3) credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) whose reports can show different information. It’s best to review them all at least once every six (6) months or once a year. The law now gives you the right to view your credit report from each of the three agencies one time per year for free. Click here for more information:
  • Don’t give out your personal information to unsolicited requests
    Unsolicited email , pop-up websites or web pages asking for personal information (phishing) can be scams. If it looks suspicious, call the company to check them out first.
  • Keep your personal information in a safe place
    Don’t store a list of credit card numbers, PIN numbers or passwords in your wallet or on your computer. Memorize the confidential information, and keep a copy of this information on paper in a secured location.

Types of fraud

Email phishing

Criminals use fraudulent emails (known as phishing emails) that appear legitimate and are designed to deceive you into sharing personal or account information.

The phishing emails often include logos of legitimate companies, content from their websites, and sometimes the names of real employees.

Many scammers randomly generate email addresses – that's why you may have received fraudulent emails that appear to be from banks you do not have an account with. They may also obtain email addresses online from web pages, chat rooms, online auctions, directories or other sources.

Note: Mechanics Bank will never send unsolicited emails asking clients to provide, update, or verify personal or account information, such as passwords, social security numbers, PINs, credit or check card numbers, or other confidential information.

Do not click on any suspicious links in an email. When in doubt, call us at 800.797.6324.

Examples of phishing emails

Notification of changed email address or password:
  • Fraudulent emails notifying you of changes to your email addresses or passwords are a tactic fraudsters use to gain your personal information.
  • Do not click on the link in these emails; the link may take you to a phishing site or could download spyware to your computers.
  • A fraudulent email could include a statement such as this:

    "Thank you for banking online at Mechanics Bank. Our records indicate that you recently added or made a change to one of your email address(es). This notification is to confirm that you initiated this change. If you feel you have received this email in error and did not add or change your email address(es), please click here."
Request to update your online account
  • Other emails that fraudsters send state that clients need to update their Mechanics Bank account “due to the recent changes we have made on our online banking system" which "allows us to activate new features for your account on our system."
  • These emails may include a hyperlink that appears to take users to the Mechanics Bank website. However, the hyperlink may actually take users to a phishing site or can download spyware to their computers.
  • Mechanics Bank will never send emails requesting updates to your online account.
Mechanics Bank system/technical updates
  • Many fraudulent emails may mention "system," "technical," or "technology" updates at Mechanics Bank.
  • For example, you could receive a message asking you to make a "regular update and verification" to your Online Banking accounts.
  • Mechanics Bank will never send emails asking you to update your information in this manner.

Spoofed websites

Cybercriminals may create a fake website that is designed to look like a legitimate site that you’re intending to visit, but will steal your personal and financial information.

  • Fraudsters may attempt to direct you to spoof websites via various methods, some of which include: emails, pop-up windows or text messages.
  • These websites are used to try to obtain your personal information, by prompting you to enter your User IDs, Passwords, account numbers, etc.
  • One way to detect a phony website is to consider how you were directed to the site or landed there. Use caution if you may have followed a link in a suspicious email, text message, online chat or other pop-up window requesting your personal or account information.

What to look for if you suspect a spoofed website:

Typo Scamming

Cyber criminals also use web addresses that resemble the name of a well-known company but are slightly altered by adding, omitting, or transposing letters. For example, the address "" could appear instead as:

Check the domain name
  • Be careful of misspellings when you type in a domain name, especially for the first time. After that, your browser may fill in the rest of the address of a site you've visited before.
  • Typo-scammers have been known to download malicious software apps and spyware onto non-firewalled computers that connect to their sites.
  • One of the more insidious cyber attacks is the Man-In-The-Middle Attack, which is when attackers attempt to intrude into an existing secure connection to intercept exchanged data and inject false information. It involves eavesdropping on a connection, intruding into the connection, and intercepting sensitive messages or data, and selectively modifying data like the amount of money within a transaction.
  • This is why you need to verify that you are in the correct domain when logging in to our online banking and mobile banking systems, and why you should monitor your accounts for suspicious activity.
Hover-over links
  • When you hover over a link on a page and the real web address is revealed, be suspicious if rather than a URL that makes sense (like "") you see a string of numbers, like "http://187.472.252.052."
  • Also be suspicious if you're on what should be a secure site (like our bank site or your secure online banking session) and there is no padlock symbol in your browser frame, and the URL does not begin with "https:".
Be aware of emails from the Bank
  • If you get an email that appears to be from Mechanics Bank or another secure site asking you to "verify your account," call us to ask if an email was sent.
  • Never answer one of these emails. We have other ways of contacting you.

Note: Mechanics Bank will never send unsolicited emails asking clients to provide, update, or verify personal or account information, such as passwords, social security numbers, PINs, credit or check card numbers, or other confidential information.

Pop-up messages

Phishing via phony pop-up messages on the internet is by far one of easiest ways to steal login credentials to access secure online accounts.

  • Various types of phishing allow fraudsters to copy the login page of any bank and set up a fraudulent website, in addition to creating malicious email messages that contain links to these fraudulent websites.
  • One result of phony pop-up messages is a new variation of a phishing attack called 'in-session phishing,” which targets online banking sessions through a pop-up window posing as a legitimate message from the Bank.
  • A typical scenario would be as follows:
    • A user logs into their online banking account.
    • They might leave the browser open and navigate in another window to other websites.
    • A short time later a pop-up appears, allegedly from the bank, asking the user to retype their username and password because the session has expired, or to complete a satisfaction survey.
    • Since the user had already logged into the website, they don't suspect this pop-up is fraudulent and provides the requested details.
Defend yourself from phishing pop-up messages:

Since this is a browser-based attack, the best way to defend against this is to be aware and practice browser security, including:

  • Be suspicious of unprompted pop-up windows that appear without clicking on any links.
  • Deploy browser security tools and set security settings to disallow pop-ups and certain scripts from running.
  • Be suspicious if a pop-up window appears shortly after finishing a browsing session (e.g after logging out of your online banking), and you see a pop-up, allegedly from the Bank, asking you to retype your username and password because the session has expired, or to complete a satisfaction survey.
  • Always log out of online banking and other sensitive online applications and accounts before going to other websites, so that the sessions do not remain active.

Note:  Mechanics Bank will not solicit any type of information via pop-up messaging.


A scam is an attempt, through deceit or trickery, to intentionally mislead someone, usually with the goal of financial gain. They come in the form of emails, mail, phone calls and advertisements.

  • Traditional scams play upon the vulnerability of people by exploiting human virtues such as compassion and trust.
  • There are many different types of scams, including deceptive lotteries, inheritances, employment opportunities, debt consolidation, loan offers, overpayment on sold items, and high-profit/no-risk business or investment offers. Below are some examples of common scams and how you can protect yourself.
Telephone Scam

Some fraudsters attempt to commit fraud through telephone calls. They pose as legitimate financial institutions, government agencies or official businesses, and ask for your personal and account information.

“Vishing” is the criminal practice of using social engineering and Voice over IP (VoIP) to gain access to private personal and financial information from the public for the purpose of financial reward. The term is a combination of "voice" and "phishing." A Telephone Scam could be in the form of a real person on the line, or an automated call, per the example below:

  • When the victim answers the call, an automated recording, often generated with a text-to-speech synthesizer, is played to alert the consumer that their credit card has had fraudulent activity, that their bank account has had unusual activity or they owe someone money for something.
  • The message instructs the consumer to call the following phone number immediately.
  • The same phone number is often shown in the spoofed caller ID and given the same name as the financial company they are pretending to represent.

Here are some other examples of recent fraudulent telephone activities:

  • Gift of $10,000 cash: The caller tells clients that they've won a gift of $10,000. Clients are asked to confirm their bank account and bank routing numbers so that the money can be transferred to their accounts by wire. The reality is, they’re looking to route that money out of the account and into their hands.
  • IRS past due taxes: The caller tells the client that they owe back taxes and are asked to provide a credit card number over the phone, wire money, or send a check/money order to a fraudulent address. Call the IRS before giving away any information or money.
  • Verify possible fraudulent card information: Clients receive a call or voice mail and are asked to verify possible fraudulent activities on their cards. The caller or the message asks them to provide the card number for verification purposes, or ask them to call a bogus number to provide the information.
Check Scam
  • The victim is usually sent a worthless check, which the victim then deposits into their account under the assumption that it is a legitimate transaction
  • The victim is then urged to quickly forward a small portion of the value of the check to the trickster as cash.
  • The victim then does not have time to discover that the check is fraudulent, and loses the money they sent when the check bounced.
Lottery Scam
  • Victims are generally notified via email or U.S. mail.
  • Many emails or letters appear to be from reputable companies or financial institutions.
  • Some lottery scams claim to be from other countries, such as Canada or the Netherlands.
  • Victims may receive an authentic-looking check.
  • Upon contacting an organization, victims may be asked to deposit the check and then return a portion of the money to cover fees or taxes.
  • Even though the amount requested for payment is relatively small compared to the winnings they've supposedly won, legitimate lotteries do not ask recipients to pay fees to secure their prize.
Inheritance Scam

Inheritance scams try to deceive the victim into believing that a long-lost relative has passed away and left them a large sum of money. Scammers will go so far as to research family tree information to make the inheritance seem more believable.

  • The victim may receive an email or an official-looking letter.
  • These notifications often ask the victim to send a check to help cover expenses associated with their inheritance.
  • Upon sending a check, the victim soon realizes they will not be receiving the money.
Foreign Government Letter or 419 Scam

This scam can begin with unsolicited communication from individuals representing themselves as foreign government officials.

  • The imposter "official" offers the victim a percentage of a large amount of money in exchange for their assistance in placing money in an overseas bank account(s).
  • The victim may be asked to send their account numbers, or sometimes a cashier's check or wire.
Protect yourself from scams
  • Consumers should be highly suspicious when receiving calls or messages directing them to provide any money, personal and confidential information (social security number, credit card number or bank accounts) to any unknown parties.
  • Be very skeptical of unsolicited letters, calls, or emails informing you that you've won a lottery, inherited a large sum of money, have a friend stranded overseas, or that you can make a lot of money helping out a foreign government:
  • If you didn't play a lottery, you didn't win.
  • Check with relatives about recent deaths in your family.
  • Call or email your friend to find their whereabouts.
  • Instead of providing your personal or confidential information, you should take the caller’s name and contact information and tell them you’ll call back after you’ve had a chance to verify the situation. Then, go online and do some research or call your local authorities. They may be familiar with the latest scams taking place in your community.
  • Only call a company back using a phone number that you know is legitimate, and explain what happened.
  • When calling the Bank or any financial institution, make sure they ask the proper security questions that you set up on your account, so you can be sure they are legitimate, before providing any personal or confidential information over the phone.

Remember, there may be times we need to contact you via phone for legitimate reasons but we will be sure to identify ourselves in a way that you know it’s really us.

Check fraud

Check fraud is the act of counterfeiting a check or negotiating a check that has been knowingly altered or forged in any way in an effort to defraud a financial institution or customer. Technology has made it increasingly easy for criminals to create increasingly realistic counterfeit and fictitious checks as well as false identification that can be used to defraud financial institutions and customers.

Examples of check fraud include:
  • Counterfeit/bogus checks
    Counterfeit checks are reproductions of a check or other negotiable instrument not authorized or issued by the bank or the holder of the account the item is drawn against.
  • Forgeries
    Forgeries are checks or other negotiable items that contain forged, unauthorized or improper endorsement of the maker or payee.
  • Alterations
    Alterations are checks or other negotiable items bearing any kind of mechanical or chemical alteration of the payee(s) name(s) and/or amount.

Debit/credit card fraud

Credit card and debit card theft is a very common form of fraud. However, it is still possible for your account numbers to be stolen while your cards are in your possession.

Reduce the chances that you will become a victim of credit card and debit card fraud:

  • Sign your cards immediately once they arrive in the mail OR in lieu of a signature on your credit card or debit card, write "verify signature on driver's license."
  • Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and don't write it on anything.
  • Don't enter your card online unless you're on a secure site.
  • Don't send your credit card or debit card number in an email.
  • Keep a record of all your account numbers, expiration dates, and contact information for each issuer. This will come in handy if your wallet is lost or stolen.
  • Report a lost or stolen card right away. Quick action will minimize potential loss and liability.
  • Save your receipts to compare against your billing statement. When discarding receipts, tear them up or shred them.
  • Monitor your statements monthly, making sure you recognize all charges. If you see any suspicious transactions, contact the Bank immediately.
  • Carefully review receipts for voided transactions and be sure they do not post to your account.
  • Don't leave your purse, wallet, cards, or receipts unattended. Always keep them secure or in your sight. Only carry cards that you need; leave others in a safe place at home.

Don't give out your account number unless you know and trust the company.

Elder financial fraud

Elder financial fraud is projected to grow as the baby boomers age. This means educating yourself about taking preventive measures to secure your finances (or those of a family member or loved one), and learning to detect signs of fraud. Whether you are elderly or you are a caretaker, take precaution when it comes to finances. 

Here are some signs to look for when dealing with finances of the elderly

New acquaintances

Consider the circumstances under which you build a new friendship. How did this person enter your life, and what are they getting out of the friendship? Where is this person from, what does he/she do for a living, and who are his/her close friends or family?

A common ploy of fraudsters is to befriend the elderly and increasingly gain their trust over time. They may eventually ask this new friend to come with them to make a purchase at the grocery store, or to help order new bank checks. By gaining access to the trust and financial accounts of an elderly person, the fraudster may deplete their finances without anyone’s knowledge. Or, the fraudster may make them reliant on him/her and threaten to not assist the elder anymore, or even threaten them with harm in order to get their money.

Friends and family

Unfortunately, many elder financial fraud cases involve family members. A family member may be given the authority to make legal decisions for the elder, and may abuse that right.

Merchants, contractors, landlords and others

It is not uncommon for seniors to be tricked into paying higher prices for goods or even paying for services he/she doesn’t need or has never signed up for. A contractor may raise the price of work after starting. A landlord may increase your rent without following the proper legal procedures. Even when you said no to unsolicited offers to purchase magazines or enter sweepstakes by phone, in person, or by email, the goods may appear along with a bill.

How to protect yourself or a loved one
  • Don't give out personal information via email, the internet or telephone.
  • Anticipate your needs over time and plan ahead. Do not put any one person in absolute control over your finances, and you will avoid being put in position of absolute dependence.
  • Consult with an attorney about executing a Power of Attorney naming a person you know well and trust. This person may be an attorney, a family member, or a friend. Once executed, give your bank a copy of the Power of Attorney. Be sure to notify your bank of any changes to the Power of Attorney.
  • Sign your own checks and do not write out blank checks for anyone.
  • When seeking assistance with your finances, ask for help from more than one source in order to be sure that you get an objective view. Should you have any questions, have your local bank representative help you to reconcile any discrepancies you have found.
  • When you are signing over money or property to anyone in exchange for your care, have an agreement written out and reviewed by your attorney.
  • Educate yourself on the various fraud scams out there.
  • Before signing up for any service, get the agreement in writing and read it thoroughly. If you are approached with unsolicited services, it is probably best to say no.
  • Before hiring a contractor, check the validity of their contractor’s license. Never fully pay for work in advance of its completion.
  • If any of your service providers, such as your care providers or landlords, increase their charges, get an explanation in writing. By formally documenting their excuses you may discourage them from defrauding you at the risk of their losing their business license or facing other legal repercussions.