Privacy & Security
Gate City Bank is here to help you avoid fraud or identity theft scams.
Gate City Bank does not, and will never, ask our customers for confidential information (such as Social Security Number, account number, or PIN) via text message or e-mail.
Fake Check Scams
There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back. Such a request is a clear sign that the person is trying to scam you. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier's check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a branch in your area.
International Lottery Scams
“Congratulations! You may receive a certified check for up to $400,000,000 U.S. CASH! One Lump sum! Tax free! Your odds to WIN are 1-6.” “Hundreds of U.S. citizens win every week using our secret system! You can win as much as you want!”
Sound great? It’s a fraud.
Scam operators — often based in Canada — are using the telephone and direct mail to entice U.S. consumers to buy chances in high-stakes foreign lotteries from as far away as Australia and Europe. These lottery solicitations violate U.S. law, which prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail.
Still, federal law enforcement authorities are intercepting and destroying millions of foreign lottery mailings sent or delivered by the truckload into the U.S. And consumers, lured by prospects of instant wealth, are responding to the solicitations that do get through — to the tune of $120 million a year, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says most promotions for foreign lotteries are likely to be phony. Many scam operators don’t even buy the promised lottery tickets. Others buy some tickets, but keep the “winnings” for themselves. In addition, lottery hustlers use victims’ bank account numbers to make unauthorized withdrawals or their credit card numbers to run up additional charges.
The FTC has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery:
- If you play a foreign lottery — through the mail or over the telephone — you’re violating federal law.
- There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.
- If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment “opportunities.” Your name will be placed on “sucker lists” that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell.
- Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch.
The bottom line, according to the FTC: Ignore all mail and phone solicitations for foreign lottery promotions. If you receive what looks like lottery material from a foreign country, give it to your local postmaster.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Phishing and Smishing Schemes
Be leery of e-mails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individuals to a fraudulent website or message that appears legitimate where any personal information you provide, such as account number and PIN, will be stolen. This scam also occasionally takes the form of automated phone calls asking you to input account numbers or debit card numbers to update your account or correct the problem.
Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed website. A spoofed website is a fake site or copy of a real website and misleads the recipient into providing personal information, which is routed to the scammer's computers.
Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
- Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
- Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Virus scan the attachments if possible.
- Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
- Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
- Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
- Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if the e-mail is genuine.
American Bankers Association, Financial Education Corporation, Fake Check Scams, 2005.