I recently read an article on the United States Federal Trade Commission’s web-site about an old scam that is making its rounds again (www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/variations-scheme). 

It is a telephone scam where the caller claims to be calling from the US government to advise the caller that they are being sent a national medical card for the new Affordable Care Act. “You’re one of the lucky people to get yours first, so I just need to confirm your name, address and phone number.  Oh, and your bank account number, too.”

While it is unlikely that Bermuda will encounter this particular scam we continue to be targeted by similar scams that prey on our uncertainty. Hence the reason I am writing again about scams, they are not going away and there are still people out there that are being victimized.

In fact about an hour after I read the above mentioned article I received a bogus email from a local bank with the following message.

“We noticed you haven’t logged on to your Personal Internet Banking for long. For security reasons we have suspended your online access. Please click on the option below to continue using Personal Internet Banking.”

The email continues with, “Else, access to your online access will automatically be cancelled.”

And my favourite line in this bogus email says, “Please note it is important to keep your account active by regularly logging on. By doing so you can easily detect suspicious activity and minimize the risk of your online account becoming dormant or cancelled.”

This is a typical phony email scam, commonly known as “Phishing”. This was not the first time I have received this message and similar messages from other financial institutions and I am sure it will not be the last.

Delete, delete, delete - I know that legitimate financial institutions and for that matter, any business will not send you an email requesting your personal information, nor will they direct you to a website where you can ‘update’ your online account access.

Last summer all four local banks, in cooperation with the Bermuda Police Service, the Bermuda Bankers’ Association, Consumer Affairs of the Government of Bermuda, and the Bermuda Monetary Authority, launched a consumer education campaign to combat online fraud.

This was in response to the growing number of fraudulent e-mails circulating that where targeting customers of Bermuda’s banks.  Phishing emails and similar scams via telephone calls and regular mail have not gone away but the more we educate ourselves and our friends and family the less likely we will be a victim of fraud.

You can protect yourself from phishing. If you get a call asking for personal information, hang up. If you are receiving phishing emails do the following:

  • Ignore the request
  • Do NOT click on any links contained in the email
  • Forward the email to your bank
  • Delete the email

Visit the consumer affairs website for more information – www.ca.gov.bm.

Honey Adams is the education officer for Consumer Affairs.