Tip #5: How to Take Action When You Suspect Fraud


If you suspect fraud on any of your Merchants Bank accounts, please contact us as soon as possible. You can:

According to the terms and conditions of your account, federal regulations require that if your statement contains electronic transactions you did not authorize, you must notify us within 60 days after the statement was mailed to you, or within 14 days for draft/check by phone, or check disputes.

Here are the steps we will take together when you identify an unauthorized transaction. We will:

  1. Determine if a transaction is truly fraudulent, a recording or processing error, or a simple miscommunication with the business or store.
  2. Assist you with calling the business to try to identify the charges subtracted from your account.
  3. Help you initiate a dispute by completing a Dispute Form. You will need to come to the bank to complete this paperwork.
  4. Contact you, as needed, for additional information during the dispute process.
  5. Notify you via mail with the results of your dispute.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank shared a fraud prevention tip each day. Click here to view previous tips from this week:

Tip #4: How to Know if Merchants Bank is Really Calling


Merchants Bank will never initiate a phone call or email asking you to verify your Social Security number or account number. If you are asked for this information from another company, please proceed with caution.

Merchants Bank may, however, contact you in the following situations:

  • If mail is returned for incorrect address and we do not have record of receiving an address change request from you.
  • If you are in the process of opening an account with us and we need additional information.
  • If you have submitted an Online Bill Payment and there is a question on the address or company information.
  • If you are enrolled for Online or Mobile Banking and have not used them for a period of time, or your Online Banking account is locked.
  • If you are a business and submit an ACH file; we will verify this with you.
  • If your debit card is captured in an ATM.
  • If your debit card or PIN mailer is returned to the Bank.
  • If fraud is suspected on your Merchants Bank debit or credit card.

In these, or similar, situations, we may contact you. If you do not know the bank employee calling you, we encourage you to write down the information being requested and call the person back by dialing your local Merchants Bank office at a number you have verified on your own through a public source, such as a phone book, or call a bank employee you do know personally.

For additional protection, you may set up a privacy code with the Bank. A privacy code is a 4-5 character combination of letters and/or numbers that the Bank will use to identify you over the phone. To set up a privacy code, visit your local Merchant Bank or contact your Customer Service Representative.

Friendly reminder: In order for any communication between you and the Bank to occur, we need to have your up-to-date contact information. Please contact us if you’ve moved or made any changes to your personal contact information, such as discontinuing a landline phone or changing your cell phone number. You may also update your contact information by logging in to Online Banking and clicking on Other Services.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.

Tip #3: How to Recognize “It’s Too Good to Be True”


Fraud happens on a daily basis. In many cases, it could have been prevented if the person had simply asked themselves this one question: Does this situation sound too good to be true?

Here are real examples of fraud that have happened to Merchants Bank customers. Do any of these situations sounds too good to be true?

  • You receive a phone call from what appears to be a legitimate company stating you are owed $600. When you call the company, you give them your card number and PIN so they can deposit your $600. The next day $600 in cash in taken from your account.
  • You receive a call stating you’ve won the lottery. You must send a money order in the amount of $450 to cover a processing fee and then you can claim your winnings. You take out cash, purchase the money order and send it in the mail. You never receive your lottery winnings.
  • While on your computer, a pop-up appears alerting you that your computer has been compromised by a virus. You call the phone number on the screen to get help removing the virus. Before the company can begin, you need to pay $300 up front. You give them your card number and PIN. After a few minutes, the you can see the company accessing your computer remotely and taking your personal information.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission reports customer fraud on their website. Here are a few real “too good to be true” scams from 2015:

Each scam demonstrates that clever fraudsters will use any information and technology at their disposal to obtain your information or get you to send them money. If you find yourself in a situation that sounds too good to be true, take a moment to verify the validity of the person, business or claim. You’ll be glad you did.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.

Tip #2: How to Review Your Bank and Credit Card Statements for Fraud


What’s the most important step you can take to prevent identity theft? Review your account transactions on a regular basis. Regardless of how you receive your statements or banking information (paper statements, eStatements, Online or Mobile Banking), reviewing your account information is crucial to catching fraudulent transactions.

First, look at each line item on your statement or in Online or Mobile Banking:

  • Review each item to see if you recall the transaction.
  • If you have a joint account, make sure to ask the other account owner about transactions you do not recognize.
  • If you see an item you believe is an unauthorized charge contact Merchants Bank immediately.

Next, review your transactions for a prenote.

A prenote is a normally a zero-dollar transaction sent to test the validity of an account. For the most part, prenotes are used by banks or other businesses you have authorized to set up electronic transfers. However, some fraudsters have started collecting account information by using prenote transactions. If you do not recognize the name or business associated with a prenote transaction on your statement or in Online Banking, contact Merchants Bank immediately (see numbers above).

Then, review your transactions for a pre-authorization.

A pre-authorization is a transaction sent to secure funds for a payment. For example, if you book a hotel online you might have a pre-authorization on your card in the amount of the hotel room but the hotel would not actually charge your card the amount until your stay is complete. It’s important to note that pre-authorization does affect the available balance in your account on a debit card or available credit on a credit card.

Fraudsters are now using pre-authorization to test the value of card numbers.

  • For debit cards: Fraudsters pre-authorize thousands of dollars to see what the account is worth. Typically pre-authorization will appear in your Merchants Online Banking account as a red “pending” transaction and never change to black.
  • For credit cards: Fraudsters pre-authorize small dollar amounts to see if the card number is valid. Typically pre-authorization will appear on http://www.mycardstatement.com in the Pending transactions section of your account and never move to the Transaction view of your account.
  • If you do not recognize the name or business associated with a pre-authorization in Online or Mobile Banking, contact Merchants Bank immediately (see numbers above).

Finally, make it a habit to review your financial transactions at least monthly. You know your spending history better than anyone and that makes you the best person to detect a fraudulent transaction on your account(s). If you want to access your account information more frequently, consider enrolling in Merchants Bank Online or Mobile Banking. Make sure to save your debit and credit card receipts to compare them against your statement.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.


Tip #1: How to Tell if a Website is Legitimate


If you’re one of the 190 million Americans who shop online,* it’s important to take steps to verify the legitimacy of a company website before placing an order. Here are five tips to help you determine if a website is legitimate.

1. Can you easily find the company’s full contact information?

You should be able to locate the business’s full name, physical address, telephone number and email address. In addition, if you call the telephone number listed, make sure you can reach a live person who can verify details about the business.

Red Flag = You cannot find the company’s contact information.

2. Is there a Terms and Conditions web page?

Find the Terms and Conditions page on the website and read it carefully to understand company products, return policies and more.

Red Flag = You cannot find the company’s Terms and Conditions page.

3. Does the site accept secure payments?

If the company wants to accept secure payments with a credit card, they must use SSL security which properly encrypts your payment and personal information. Websites with SSL security have a website address that begins with “https” instead of “http.” For example, https://www.merchantsbank.com.

Red Flag = The company’s site does not accept secure payments.

4. Is the site design and information professional?

Review the site for typos, errors, misspellings, stolen images and more.

Red Flag = The company’s site contains any of the above.

5. What happens when you Google search the company’s name?

Type the company name into Google and read related customer reviews, feedback and articles.

Red Flag = Bad feedback or customer experiences.

Visit the FTC Consumer website for information on current website scams.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.



3 Financial Tips for Snowbirds


Coordinating your winter travel plans can be chaotic. In the midst of preparing for your trip, keep in mind these three tips to ensure smooth sailing while you’re somewhere warm.

1. Communicate your change of address.

There are several businesses that should be aware of your change of address for the winter season, including Merchants Bank. To ensure you continue to receive important financial, medical or family information or to discontinue specific subscription services, you should contact the following regarding your address change:

  • Your bank
  • The Post Office
  • Your local newspaper (if you have it delivered)
  • Other delivery services

To alert Merchants Bank of your address change, stop in or call your local branch (link to contact us page) to let us know of the change. Please include dates of departure and return as well as the names of other account holders living at your address.

2. Know how to access your bank account information.

Managing your money across a few states or a country is critical to helping you feel at ease during your trip. Make sure you are comfortable with getting information about your accounts and managing your money through one of the following free options:

Or, if you prefer assistance enrolling in any of the listed services, simply contact our Electronic Banking department at 866-496-0522.

3. Be diligent in protecting your identity.

In the course of your travels, there are a number of circumstances that could impact the chance of identity theft. You could lose track of a card, leave financial statements in the mailbox, or post publically on a social media site that you’re out of town, which lets criminals know that your house is empty. Review our security tips to ensure that your personal information is safe.

Click here to view our Snowbird Kit.

Prevent Fraud on Your Merchants Bank Cards

fraud word abstractPreventing fraud on your bank accounts can feel like a daunting process, but at Merchants Bank, we make it easy. By collaborating with us, you’ll have 24/7 fraud detection monitoring on your debit and credit card accounts and gain access to education on latest fraud alerts and trends. The fight to prevent fraud involves not only our expertise and diligence, but a constant open line of communication with each of our customers.

How does fraud detection at Merchants Bank work?

  • We work with our trusted partners, FraudWatch at Elan Financial Services and VISA Falcon Fraud Prevention Services, to monitor fraud trends and detect fraudulent transactions on your debit or credit card accounts 24/7.
  • We will call you in the event of a suspicious transaction. You may receive a call from our partners, Elan or Falcon, who will make you aware that the call is being placed on behalf of Merchants Bank.
  • When our partners call you they will ask you for some identifying information – such as the last four digits of your Social Security Number. They will never ask you for your full number. If you are uncomfortable and don’t want to speak with our partners, please call your local Merchants Bank office and verify the transaction or let us know that you did not make the purchase in question.

What can you do to prevent fraud? Keep in touch!

  • Ensure the Bank has your most up-to-date contact information. Call your local branch if you need to make any changes.
  • Contact us before you go on vacation and don’t be shy about sharing the details, for example: dates, exact locations and how we can contact you while you’re gone. If you make purchases in a state or country where you don’t normally use your card, we may think these transactions are fraudulent unless we know otherwise.
  • If you forget to contact us before you left on vacation, call a Customer Service Representative at your local branch during your trip to provide the information listed above.
  • Contact us if you’ll be making a large purchase that would be uncharacteristic when compared to your purchase history.

Click here for more security information from Merchants Bank make sure to review the Alerts section of our website.