Detecting Scams

High tech thieves are out there

Fraud happens on the phone, online, in the mail, even at the ATM. Criminals are hard at work trying to hijack your identity and steal your money. Banner Bank helps to protect our clients with high tech tools and services that detect and help prevent fraud. But the most effective defense is knowing how to spot a scam and take countermeasures. In the fight against fraud, knowledge is power. If you've become a victim of a scam, please contact us immediately.

Fraud is committed when criminals use your personal information to access your financial information and make purchases

Who Can It Affect?

Anyone. Although it's considered a felony crime, police can't help you restore your credit record and undo the damage that's been done. Taking the proper precautions with your information is the best protection.

Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

  • Never give out your checking account, credit card or Social Security number to solicitors or callers that you have not contacted
  • Never give out your password or PIN for your debit card, credit card or ATM card
  • Check your accounts frequently using free Banner Online Banking and contact us if you notice any suspicious activity
  • Receive and pay bills online instead of by mail with Banner Bill Pay. The less biller information in your mailbox, the better
  • Protect your information by not receiving paper copies of your account statements. With free Banner eStatements, just login to Banner Online Banking and view or print the statement information you need
  • Provide personal information only on websites that are secure and only when you have initiated the contact. Always check for the lock icon in the bottom right of your screen, and check the browser to make sure that "https" ("s" indicates secure) is displayed in the website address

Common Scams

  • ATM & Card Skimming
  • Bogus Charities & Fake Auctions
  • Fake Payments & Secret Shoppers
  • Phishing, Smishing & Vishing
  • Pop-ups, Attacks & Viruses

ATM Skimming

Some clever crooks attach cameras or scanning devices to ATMs in order to steal your account number and password. Don't use any machine that shows signs of tampering, and report any such suspicions to the bank or ATM operator.

Credit Card Skimming

At retail stores and restaurants, some workers have been caught recording information off customer credit cards. Keep your card in sight whenever possible, and swipe it yourself if you have that option.

Fake Online Auctions

If you've scored a deal from an unfamiliar merchant that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Shady sellers might be hawking counterfeit products, or they may never send you the item you paid for. Research how other consumers have rated the seller, and be wary of merchants who demand payment through wire transfers (instant cash).

Bogus Charities

Is that solicitor a community servant or a common thief? On your doorstep, on the phone and online, fraudsters appeal to your benevolent side, then take your money and run. Before donating to a charity you're not familiar with, always investigate it — start with the Better Business Bureau — and just say no to high-pressure pitches.

Fake Check, Secret Shopper, Overpayment Schemes

If you sell items on eBay or Craigslist, watch out. In this extremely common scam, a "buyer" contacts you and says he will pay by cashier's check. He sends a check for much more than your asking price and asks you to wire the excess money back to his "agent" or "associate." The trouble starts a few days later, when your bank rejects the cashier's check as fraudulent. If you've already wired the cash, the "excess money" and bank fees come from your pocket.

Be on the lookout for unexpected checks in the mail. Other commonly reported variations on this fraud involve foreign lotteries (Congratulations! You've won!) in which you're sent a big check and asked to wire back taxes and fees. Or "secret shopper" programs; that's when you receive a check in return for evaluating the quality of some company's money-transfer service. If you encounter an opportunity that sounds anything like these scenarios, just say no.

Advance-fee Fraud

This con comes in many forms. You pay in advance for something, anticipating a reward of greater value. You might pay a fee to claim "found money" that supposedly belongs to you; to get in on a "can't lose" investment opportunity; or to have your "lottery winnings" delivered to you. In the end, the only one who comes out ahead is the scammer. A common form of advance-fee fraud is known as the Nigerian Letter Scam or 419 Scam, named for a section of the Nigerian criminal code. In this long-running swindle, you might receive an official-sounding letter or email that promises you a cut of millions of dollars if you'll help this person move money out of his country using your bank account. And — you guessed it — fees are required upfront.


An email that appears to be from your financial institution asks you to click a link, directing you to a web page that looks legitimate. On this web page, you're asked to verify personal information, such as your account number, password and Social Security number. The email may include an attachment, which it urges you to open. Don't bite. It's a scam to snatch your personal data. Banner Bank and other reputable companies never gather information this way. Report any


Think of it as phishing over the phone — the "v" is for voice. Instead of sending a bogus email, the criminals call you, claiming to be from your bank or another institution you trust, such as the local court system calling about jury duty. If they ask for a password or Social Security number, think twice. Hang up and call the organization's customer service number to double-check. Similar scams send you an email or voice mail asking you to call a certain phone number, where an automated voice system gathers your information.


This variant of the phishing concept uses text messages. The name is derived from the SMS technology used for texting.

Pop-ups and Viruses

As anyone who's emailed or surfed the Internet has experienced, there's no end to the traps set up by online thieves. Pop-up ads are especially loathsome, since clicking on them could trigger your computer to download a nasty virus or spyware. The same goes for attachments or links that come in unsolicited emails or in unsolicited Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or other social networking messages. (Tip: Hover your mouse over the link to preview the website before clicking.) Once the malicious code is on your machine, it could hijack your computer's processing resources, launch unrelenting pop-up ads or even record your keystrokes and report back to its controller. What can you do? Defend your computer with anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware and pop-up blocker programs. If available, consider using an alternative browser with additional security features to further protect you online. Remember, when you're in unfamiliar territory on the Internet, trust no one.

Search Engine Attacks

These attacks leverage the power of search engines to hide malicious links in common Internet queries, such as recent news items or lyrics for a popular song. Before clicking a search result, read the summary text to make sure it’s grammatically correct and relevant and the link address is concise.

Telephone Denial-of-Service Attacks

This relatively new and elaborate con bombards your telephone with hundreds of phone calls from an automated dialing system. When you answer, you may hear dead air or a recorded message. Meanwhile, a crook is raiding your bank account using illegally obtained information. And the bank can't call you to verify the transaction because your phone is busy.

How to tell if an email is legitimate

Banner Bank occasionally sends marketing emails. These emails contain clickable links for your convenience and the displayed text may be different than the actual link (i.e., the target). Although fraudulent emails can be difficult to recognize, beware of emails that:

  • Request that you click a link to a spoof website, one that looks like a real company website, including the real company's graphics and design. Since fraudulent email may even use exact wording from the real company's website, it's difficult to determine a spoof website.
  • Ask you to give, confirm, or update sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers, usernames, passwords, PIN (Personal Identification Number) or account numbers.
  • Use Pop-Up windows for entering or confirming personal data (see below for more pop-up screens on secured websites.)
  • Have a sense of urgency to give the information immediately, citing a specific thing that might happen. For example, your account may be closed or temporarily suspended.
  • Have spelling errors and/or bad grammar. Intentional spelling errors may allow the email to get through spam filters used by ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

Even if you don't enter your personal data, by clicking on a link embedded in a fraudulent email, you may inadvertently download tracking software or viruses that track your keystrokes to gain your personal information.

Some people "test" for online fraud by entering incorrect information. If the information is accepted, then they feel they can determine that it's an email fraud. Criminals are now aware that people perform this test, and may not accept the information entered first. The best defense is not to enter any personal information at a website you link to from an unsolicited email

If you have any doubts, please contact Banner Bank at 800-272-9933 or send an email to Unlike Online Banking, our general Banner Bank email address does not use SSL encryption. Please do not send sensitive information, i.e. your social security numbers, account numbers, other account information via email. You may safely send secure information through our messaging service within Banner Online Banking.

More ways to protect yourself from fraudulent activity: