Tax Scammers Target Might Target You: Here’s What to Do

Tax Scam Awareness

It’s that time of year — tax time. It’s also a great time to get up to speed on tax-related scams. Here are two ways tax scammers might target you and what you can do about it:

Tax Identity Theft
This kind of identity theft happens when someone files a fake tax return using your personal information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund. Tax identity theft also happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job. You find out about it when you get a letter from the IRS saying:

  • More than one tax return was filed in your name, or
  • IRS records show wages from an employer you don’t know

If you get a letter like this, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. You can find more about tax identity theft at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and irs.gov/identitytheft.

IRS Imposter Scams
This time scammers aren’t pretending to be you — they’re posing as the IRS. They call you up saying you owe taxes, and threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay right away. They might know all or part of your Social Security number, and they can rig caller ID to make it look like the call is coming from Washington, DC – when it could be coming from anywhere. Leaving you no time to think, they tell you to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number right away.

The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone. When the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they usually do it by mail. You can report IRS imposter scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online or at 800-366-4484, and to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Visit IdentityTheft.gov
IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. You can report identity theft, get step-by-step advice, sample letters, and your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. These resources will help you fix problems caused by the identity theft.

What Should You Know About Merchants Bank EMV Chip Credit Cards?

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What is an EMV chip card?

The term “EMV” stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – the original developers of chip cards. These cards increase the security of in-person transactions by generating a one-time use code that can only be read by a register enabled to read chip cards. The code is created from the small chip on the front of your card and is hard to counterfeit, which prevents fraud.

How do I know if I have a chip card?

If you have a chip card, you will notice a small chip icon on the front of the card. At this time, Merchants Bank Visa Credit Cards offer EMV chip technology and have the chip icon. If you are a current Merchants Bank Visa Credit Card cardholder, your EMV chip card will be sent to you upon expiration of your current card. New cardholders will be issued a chip card upon credit approval.

Is paying with a chip card different from paying with my other cards?

Yes, making a payment with a chip card is slightly different than the card transactions you are used to. Instead of swiping your card at the register, you’ll simply follow these instructions:

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Step 1: Insert the chip end of your card into the terminal with the chip facing up.

Step 2: Keep the card in the terminal during the transaction and follow the prompts on the screen.

Step 2: Keep the card in the terminal during the transaction and follow the prompts on the screen.

Step 3: Take your card when prompted. It’s that easy!

Step 3: Take your card when prompted. It’s that easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Do all stores accept EMV chip cards?

Not yet, but the trend is growing and if a store does not yet accept chip cards, you can still swipe your card to pay.

What happens if I swipe my EMV chip card instead of inserting it into the register?

The terminal will display a message asking you to insert your card instead.

To learn more about EMV chip technology, contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank.

If you are a business and would like to accept cards, or have a terminal that does not currently accept EMV chip cards, contact our Credit Card department.

Credit cards are subject to credit approval.

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One Time Security Code and Trusteer Rapport, Extra Layers of Security for Your Business

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The security of your online business transactions is vitally important to us, and we’re always researching ways to provide extra security for your business transactions. With that in mind, we are excited to offer our business customers One Time Security Code and Trusteer Rapport, two free services designed to increase your transaction security.

One Time Security Code

One Time Security Code is a required extra level of security for high-risk transactions, such as the submission of ACH files, while using Merchants Business Online Banking. One Time Security Code does not replace any current security programs offered through Merchants, but is an additional service.

How does One Time Security Code work? If a business is performing ACH transactions online, One Time Security Code sends a code via email, phone call or text message that the business customer enters into the appropriate area in Merchants Online Banking for further verification. Once the code is entered, the transaction can be completed.

“One Time Security Code is a great tool to protect your business and is likely familiar to you through your past online experiences,” said Kerri Bronk, Merchants Bank’s Senior Operations/E-Channel Officer. “It is similar to what other websites use when you forget your password and need to verify your identity using a PIN or code sent to your email or phone.”

Who Should Use One Time Security Code? All Merchants Bank business customers who conduct ACH transactions through our Online Banking must use One Time Security Code. If you haven’t yet been contacted by the Merchants Bank Electronic Banking department (866-496-0522) or Cash Management Officers Tammy Johnson (507-457-1190) or Machelle Anderson (507-263-7572), they will be in contact in the near future, or you can feel free to contact them.

Trusteer Rapport

Trusteer Rapport better controls and reduces risk when using a computer for business by providing extra security for financial malware beyond malware identification and protection that a business should already be using. Trusteer Rapport does not replace normal computer security. While it is not required of Merchants Bank business customers, it is highly recommended. It takes just a few minutes to download.

Trusteer Rapport has multiple tools to:

  • Flag and notify customers of potential security risks. For example, if the same password is being used for multiple sites.
  • Flag or automatically clean malware off of a computer system.
  • Choose which sites are protected with Trusteer Rapport during financial transactions. If a site is protected, Trusteer Rapport will lock down the computer and not allow other programs or functions to happen until the transaction you are performing is complete. This protects the computer/customer from potential hackers searching for financial information, like what can happen in online shopping.
  • View statistics on online behavior and malware detection.

Who should use Trusteer Rapport? “Even if you can’t see someone committing a crime, it doesn’t mean they aren’t in the background online trying to figure out your online patterns and information,” Bronk said. “We encourage all businesses, especially those using Online Banking, to take advantage of the additional level of protection provided by TrusteerRapport.”

How Do I Start?

If you’d like to learn more about Trusteer Rapport, or have other questions about One Time Security Code, the best place to start is Merchants Bank’s Electronic Banking department at 866-496-0522, or by visiting our the Online Banking/ATMs area on our website.

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

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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

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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.

Digital Security: Be Deliberate, Be Judicious

eNews-DigitalSecurityBlog

Almost daily we hear of new and troubling attacks, hacks, and loss of key data and information, all taken from the online world by digital thieves. The technical ins and outs of these events are often confusing and complex and it’s easy to feel powerless to do anything about them. Yet, we can reduce risk by being deliberate and judicious in our use of digital resources. Here are two steps we can all take today:

Step 1 – Know who we are doing business with
Review privacy policies, learn about security practices, and apply common sense. Stop visiting or engaging with companies or sites that leave us uncomfortable. According to the Business Insider, there are now more than 644 million active websites on the Internet – so chances are the company you are doing business with is not the only provider. As part of Security Awareness Week (June 1-6), Merchants Bank has provided some quick steps to help you identify if a website is legitimate.

Step 2 – Enjoy the social network but…
The FBI cyber center reports the use of social media by cyber criminals has grown 400% since 2009. Sharing too much online allows thieves to build a near complete picture of who we are and then use that information to outright steal (or con others into revealing) otherwise protected data. Instead of posting everything about our lives, pick up the phone, send a note, or get together with friends. After all, it is those close to us who are most interested in what we have to share.

Some of the best approaches to security do not involve technology. By being more deliberate in how we share information, and more judicious in what we share, we can reduce the risks that, if our online information is compromised, it will have little value to thieves and cannot be used against us.

For more security information, sign up for Merchants Bank security tips and alerts via email.

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

SAWWednesday

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.