Many residents have been sent e-mails asking them to update their billing information. Bermuda's banks said they would never do this via e-mail. *MCT Illustration
Many residents have been sent e-mails asking them to update their billing information. Bermuda's banks said they would never do this via e-mail. *MCT Illustration

SUNDAY, JULY 8: Bermuda’s banks have banded together to help combat online fraud.

Capital G Bank Limited, HSBC Bank Bermuda Limited, The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited and Bermuda Commercial Bank Limited announced on Sunday that, in cooperation with the Bermuda Police Service, the Bermuda Bankers’ Association, the

Department of Consumer Affairs of the Government of Bermuda, and the Bermuda Monetary Authority, they have launched a consumer education campaign to combat online fraud.

The first ads in this campaign appeared in newspapers, including the Bermuda Sun, on Friday.

The campaign is designed to help educate consumers about the circulation of fraudulent e-mails that are targeting customers of Bermuda’s banks.

These phony e-mails, commonly referred to as “phishing” scams, are created by individuals with criminal intent who are attempting to obtain customers’ personal information for purposes of identity theft and/or their online banking credentials, which could result in unauthorised transactions in customers’ bank or credit card accounts.

The campaign advises consumers about how to differentiate between legitimate communications from their banks and fraudulent communications, how to react to fraud attempts and where to report them.

A typical phishing e-mail is designed to look like an official communication from a customer’s bank, often bearing the logo and borrowing the style of the bank’s website.

It will generally ask the recipient to click on a link to visit a website to “update” or “unlock” online account access and/or enter their personal information.

Consumers are advised that Bermuda’s banks will never send e-mails to their customers asking them for personal or financial information or containing links to a website where they are asked to enter their personal information to update/unlock their online credentials.

If a customer receives such an e-mail, they should report it to their bank immediately, and under no circumstances should they click on links contained therein.

After the e-mail is reported to the bank, it should be deleted.

Speaking on behalf of Bermuda’s banks, Richard Moseley, CEO of HSBC Bermuda and current chairman of the Bermuda Bankers’ Association, said: “The incidence and sophistication of phishing attempts against customers of Bermuda’s banks are on the rise. In response, the island’s banks have come together to help educate the public about how to recognise and avoid falling victim to online fraud.

“This kind of cooperation among the banks, the regulator, the Government and the police to assist Bermudian consumers is evidence of the proactive, customer-focused character of the financial services industry in Bermuda.”

Ian Grant Tomkins, Inspector with the Bermuda Police Service’s Financial Crimes Unit said: “The Bermuda Police Service is pleased to support this initiative of our community partners in the Bermuda Bankers’ Association. This campaign is particularly timely as online fraud remains a growing issue to both Bermuda businesses and residents alike.

“Whilst modern technology has made our financial transactions more efficient, it has also created new opportunities for criminal organisations to exploit.

“We therefore would like to remind everyone to be vigilant when conducting online transactions and report any suspicions to the addresses listed.”

Vance Campbell, Consumer Affairs Board chairman, said: “Consumer Affairs supports this campaign and will continue our education initiatives to help further educate the public.

“Local residents should be vigilant and aware that they could be targeted by scammers and be prepared to react and report such activity. This campaign is both timely and will go a long way in educating consumers - an informed and savvy consumer is our best protection against scams.”