Consumer Awareness

Consumer Awareness

AloStar Bank of Commerce wants to help you protect yourself against crimes targeted against consumers such as identity theft and phishing. The following information is provided to help you protect yourself from becoming a victim and provides an explanation of methods to help you repair your good name if you become a victim of identity theft.

What is Identity Theft?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, social security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission. The identity thief then uses your information to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity thieves use various low- and high-tech methods to attempt to obtain your information for illicit purposes. Over the past few years, the internet has proven to be an easier method for identity thieves to conduct scams and trick consumers into divulging their personal information.

Email and Website Fraud

Email fraud scams are commonly known as “phishing” and “spoofing.” In these types of schemes, a consumer receives an email with a link that directs them to a fraudulent website. In most cases, the fraudster has designed a website that closely resembles that of a legitimate organization or business. It is sometimes difficult to recognize a bogus site. Typically the business being “spoofed” has wide name recognition and is normally associated with being a trusted business by consumers. The “spoofed” site will typically ask for personal or financial information to be verified or confirmed. The fraudster will then use the information for identity theft. Reputable companies will never ask you to provide personal information such as login information, account numbers, card numbers, personal identification numbers (PIN), social security numbers, etc. in an online environment.

However, since email scams have gained more notoriety and consumers have become more internet savvy, fraudsters have become more creative in their attempt to defraud consumers. Some links or sites now serve as a means to download malware or other types of keystroke loggers on home and business computers. These malicious programs, unlike common computer viruses, do not disrupt the functioning of infected computers. These programs lie in wait until an unsuspecting consumer or business signs on to a secure site to conduct legitimate banking or other business. These programs record personal information such as usernames and passwords that the fraudsters can then use to sign on to these accounts. These identity thieves take over legitimate online accounts to either transfer away the funds or make fraudulent bill payments. Recently, email scams have used the names of government agencies, legitimate financial institutions, internet shopping sites, electronic payment services and others.

If you have received email purportedly from AloStar Bank of Commerce requesting you to update or verify any personal, private, or financial account information, DO NOT click on any links associated with the email. AloStar Bank of Commerce will never ask you to update or verify your account information through email. If you have received one of these email requests and you have possibly divulged any of your personal, private, and financial information, then immediately contact AloStar Bank of Commerce at 1-877-738-6391. You will be placed in touch with a member of our Fraud Prevention Department who will assist you in protecting your AloStar Bank of Commerce Bank accounts.

For more information about our Online Privacy Policy click here.

Debit Card and Credit Card Skimming

Shoulder surfing is decidedly low tech and old school. This type of fraud occurs when someone looks over your shoulder while you are entering your PIN or other verification information into an electronic terminal. This information can then be used to make online purchases or even counterfeit cards. The newest scam has allowed fraudsters to use high-tech means to do essentially the same thing, but in a much greater volume. This new scam is conducted by “skimming” the information directly from the magnetic strip on the back of your debit or credit card. These devices have been found connected to Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and gas pumps. Other portable devices have been discovered in use by waitresses, bartenders and valets, etc. This type of fraud typically occurs in trusted places where the card is taken from the owner and the transaction is conducted at a remote terminal.

Protecting Your Information

To help prevent your information from being compromised, first make sure your usernames and passwords are all different. Next, make sure that they cannot be easily guessed. Use what are called out-of-wallet items. Do not use names, addresses, phone numbers, pet names, birth dates, etc. Do not use anything that can be guessed if the thief got your whole wallet or purse.

With the proliferation of information access in today’s environment, such as social media, networking, online banking, etc., there are several methods that can help you prevent your information from being significantly compromised. The following is a list of best practices for your everyday use:

  • Never give your account numbers or social security number to an unknown caller performing an unsolicited sales call.
  • Never give out personal information to an unsolicited caller, even if they claim to be from the IRS, police department, government agency, etc. If you receive a call, do not ask for a call-back number; go online or look it up in the phonebook. Then call the business or agency directly to see if they are placing calls. This is also a good time to ask to be removed from their marketing database.
  • Never give out your debit card or credit card personal identification number (PIN).
  • Never write your PIN on your debit card.
  • Never leave your checkbook or debit card in your vehicle.
  • Never leave transaction receipts at an ATM, financial institution’s teller counter or with merchants, or at gasoline pumps.
  • Protect your debit card and credit card receipts.
  • Match your debit card and credit card receipts against your monthly bills and check your monthly financial and bank statements for accuracy.
  • Review all bank and credit card account statements when received and report any discrepancies or unauthorized charges immediately.
  • Take notice of when you receive your monthly financial and bank statements and bills. If you do not receive them when expected, contact the sender.
  • Report any lost or stolen checks, debit card and credit cards immediately.
  • Make a photocopy of the contents of your wallet. Include both sides of your driver’s license and all debit and credit cards; keep the copy in a convenient and secure location.
  • Mail all bills or sensitive financial correspondence from a secured location, such as a U.S. Postal Service mail drop. Do not mail these items from your home mailbox.
  • If you apply for or request a new debit or credit card and do not receive it when expected, notify the financial institution immediately.
  • Sign new debit and credit cards immediately upon receipt.
  • Monitor the expiration dates on your debit or credit cards and contact the issuer if a replacement card is not received prior to the expiration date.
  • Memorize your social security number and any other commonly needed account numbers, usernames and passwords.
  • Do not carry your social security card or birth certificate on your person or with you unless it is explicitly needed. Return them to a secure location as soon as possible.
  • Do not use your social security number or date of birth as a password or PIN, and never write them on papers you carry with you.
  • Beware of unsolicited mail or telephone callers that offer prizes, awards or financial assistance. If the offer requires you to give out personal information or any type of financial account numbers for redemption, it is a scam. You are probably not the winner of a contest you never entered. Randomly selected phone numbers or email addresses are almost always a scam.
  • Do not reply to or click on a link in an email that warns you, with little or no notice or prior legitimate expectation, that an account of yours will be shut down or forfeited unless you confirm billing or other account information. Do not follow a link or use a telephone number provided by the suspect communication; instead, independently verify the request. Contact the company or agency directly via their official site or telephone number, such as those found on a genuine previous statement or in the phonebook.
  • Before submitting personal financial information through a website, look for the “locked padlock” on the browser status bar, typically at the bottom right of the page, or look for https:// at the beginning of the web address in your browser’s address window. This window may also turn green to signify a secure connection. Having these DOES NOT guarantee that the website is legitimate, but it does indicate that the website is secure.
  • What to do if you believe you have been a victim of Identity Theft:

    If you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, the following actions will help to minimize your exposure:

    • File a police report with your local police department.
    • Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus. Ask that a “fraud alert” be placed on your credit files. A fraud alert forces creditors that pull your file to contact you before opening any new accounts or changing existing accounts. Contact numbers for the three major credit bureaus:
    • You are entitled to a free credit report annually, by direct request to one of the three major credit bureaus above, or by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
    • Close and change account numbers on all bank and financial accounts you feel may have been compromised. Immediately close any accounts you feel have been fraudulently opened in your name or with any other personally identifiable information. You will be required to prove your identity before these requests will be honored.
    • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You may file a complaint online at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or www.ftc.gov/idtheft or contact them via telephone at 1-877-438-4338.
    • Obtain an “Identity Theft Affidavit” from the FTC and forward a copy, and a copy of the police report, to each business where your information was used fraudulently to open an account.
    • Maintain detailed records of all actions taken. Document dates, times, and full names of all persons with whom you speak concerning the theft of your identity.

    *Links to third party sites are provided for your convenience. These sites are not within our control and may not have the same privacy, security or accessibility standards. Third parties are responsible for the content, security and availability of their sites.

      What do I do if my AloStar Bank of Commerce account has been compromised?

      If you feel that your AloStar Bank of Commerce account may have or has been compromised, contact our Customer Service Center at 1-877-738-6391 and ask to speak to a member of our Fraud Prevention Department. It is our goal to keep you informed and educated in taking the right precautions to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and account fraud. If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact our Customer Service Center, Monday - Friday 8am-5pm (CT), we're closed Saturday and Sunday.

      If you contact our Customer Service Center, you will be required to verify your identity to ensure the privacy and protection of your account information. AloStar Bank of Commerce does not contact customers to request or verify information about login IDs, passwords, PINs or any other security measures we have in place to protect your account. For your protection, we recommend that you do not email, nor will you be asked to email, full account numbers, debit card numbers, passwords, or any other personal financial information.

      We will also not include links in any informational or transactional emails we may send you. As an added measure, we prefer that you respond to any email we might send you, by creating a new email to customerservice@alostarbank.com.

      For more information on identity theft and other types of account fraud, please visit the following websites:

       

      Consumer Complaint Policy

      We are dedicated to providing you financial products and services in compliance with all Federal and State regulations. In the event your concern cannot be addressed by one of our helpful customer service representatives, you may contact our Compliance Officer. Please write to the address below, Attn: Compliance Officer. Please include a description of the act or practice you believe to be in violation of the law or a consumer regulation, including all relevant facts. Please include your name, address and telephone number where you may be reached. You should receive a response within ten business days of our receipt. If your concern requires further investigation you will be contacted concerning the investigation status within ten business days of receipt.

      AloStar Bank of Commerce

      3595 Grandview Parkway, Suite 425

      Birmingham, Alabama 35243

      Toll Free 1.877.738.6391

      Toll Free Fax 1.866.715.6601