Scams, Hoaxes, & Fraud

Scam artists use clever schemes to defraud millions of people around the globe each year. Being on guard online can help you maximize the benefits of the internet and minimize your chance of being defrauded. Learn how to recognize common scams and what you can do to avoid them.  The information below is meant to help you be safe, secure, and responsible.  Visit On Guard Online for more information.

While you are the first line of defense against scams, hoaxes, and fraud, The Honesdale National Bank aims to help our customers as much as possible with HNB Fraud Watch Protection.  For an added layer of protection, you may enroll in the HNB Guard Dog service to receive alerts when certain debit card transactions occur.

How to lower debit card risk

  • Always know your PIN (Personal Identification Number).  Due to the increase in debit card fraud, banks will block certain areas where fraud is prevalent.  Only a transactions with a PIN and card present will be processed when a block is placed.  If you cannot remember your PIN, please call HNB at 800-462-9515, and ask for a PIN mailer to be mailed to you.
  • Use a credit card for internet transactions.  You have greater legal protection if goods are defective or don’t arrive.
  • Use internet and/or mobile banking to monitor your account on a regular basis, instead of waiting for a monthly paper statement.  If you see fraudulent transactions contact HNB immediately.
  • Don’t use your debit card for info-mercial purchases.  If you have a dispute over double-billing or products that do not arrive from an info-merchant, only credit card companies can facilitate consumer disputes.
  • If you cannot use a credit card in place of your debit card when shopping online, HNB offers prepaid reloadable cards which may be used online.
  • Many businesses still print credit and debit card receipts with your entire account number on them.  Check your receipts when you make purchases to ensure the full number is not included.  If it is, use the pen you are signing with to black out all but the first or last four (4) numbers of your account number.

Tips to Avoid Fraud

  • Keep track of the balances on any account that has a plastic payment card.  Sign up for email or text alerts through HNB Online Banking, or you can download the HNB Mobile Banking App to monitor your HNB accounts on your mobile device.
  • If you receive a call from a bank employee, realize that is okay to hang up and call the bank to find out if the call was legitimate.  Do not call a number provided by an unknown person.  Call us at 570-253-3355, 800-462-9515, or a branch phone number.
  • Do not use an ATM unless you have privacy around you.  Do not converse with others while you are using the ATM.  If any parts of the ATM are loose, unstable, or looks drastically different than you last saw it, do not use it, instead go to one you feel more comfortable using or visit inside the branch to withdraw money.
  • Report any incidents that could put your card information at risk.  If an ATM captures your card, do not assume that it is by fault of the ATM.  A criminal may have staged this and will retrieve your card later.  In either situation, you should notify the bank and request a new card as soon as possible.
  • If for any reason you feel that your card information may have been compromised by a merchant, ATM, or any business, notify the bank and ask for a new card number.  You can also report your card lost or stolen through HNB Online Banking.  Also, remember to change your PIN often.

Types of Scams

Scams come in many forms, but many include checks.  The most prevalent —ones are: lottery, secret shopper, overpayment, inheritances, high profit, relationships, and employment.  With many scams, the victim will receive a check with instructions to deposit the check and wire funds within a certain amount of time.  The check would then not clear from the other bank, and the wire is already sent to the criminal via wire.  If you have any suspicions about a check, ask an HNB representative or contact Kevin Colgan at 570-253-3362, ext. 1497.  You can also fax a copy of the check to us at 570-251-9519.

Phishing Scams

When internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information, it’s called phishing.  Don’t reply to email, text, or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information.  Don’t click on links within them either – even if the message seems to be from an organization you trust.  It isn’t.  Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels.

Consumers should be vigilant. For more information on phishing, visit any of the following:
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Federal Trade Commission
Anti-Phishing Working Group
National Consumers League
OCC Consumer Protection News

Online Scams

Scammers use email, online ads, pop ups, and search results to trick you into sending them money and personal information.  One way to outsmart them?  Use your email’s spam filter to screen the email you get.  Then forward any email that seems suspicious to

  • Work-at-Home Scams
  • Weight Loss Claims
  • Lotteries and Sweepstakes Scams
  • Fake Check Scams
  • Imposter Scams
  • Mystery Shopper Scams
  • Bogus Apartment Rentals
  • Miracle Cures
  • Debt Relief Scams
  • Pay-in-Advance Credit Offers
  • Investment Schemes
  • The “Nigerian” Email Scam

Phone Scams

A call is received from a person or automated system stating they are from the bank or the fraud department at the bank.  They state that your account has been compromised or your debit or credit card has been suspended/deactivated.  To reactivate it or remove any holds, you must provide personal information – account number, card number, social security number, expiration date, PIN, etc.

Never provide this information – especially if you did not initiate the call.  Always hang up and call back a published phone number or visit your local bank office to authenticate the request.  Your bank already has all your account information.  Know who you are speaking with.

Lottery Scams

You receive notification that you won a lottery (usually from a foreign country) for which you never purchased a ticket.  You are told you will receive a portion of the proceeds in a check.  You are directed to deposit it into your account and send a good portion of the check back by wire transfer to pay any fees or taxes due.  Of course, the check you deposited is bogus and is debited against your account when it is returned by the bank it was drawn on.  If you sent the funds via wire transfer, you are then out those dollars.

Variations of this scam involve the overpayment for the purchase of something large – like a car – where you are told to give the excess money paid to you to a fictitious shipping company.  The original check is bogus and when it is returned, you do not have the sale you thought you did and you are out the money that was paid to the bogus shipper.

You receive a large check and are enlisted to to do some “Mystery Shopping” at a large retailer (Walmart, Kmart, Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s, etc).  You are told to cash or deposit the check into your account, use a portion of funds to make a purchase, complete a survey, and return the survey, receipt, and remaining funds – less a fee you can keep.  The original check, once again, is not valid and you are out the amount of the purchase plus the funds you returned to them.

Account Activation Text Scams

Fraudulent text messages are being used to obtain personal information.  Do not respond to a text message or call a phone number to reactivate a credit, debit, or payment card.  When this is necessary, you will receive a letter in the mail or an HNB employee will call you personally.  You will only receive a text message if you enroll in text alerts through HNB Online Banking.

Account Hijacking & Identity Theft

Criminals use deceptive emails and/or fake websites to make you believe you need to update usernames, passwords, and account numbers.  If you get an email instructing you to change any personal information, never follow the links in the email.  Go to the institutions website and complete the necessary information from that page.  Criminals may also use spyware to hijack your information.  The spyware can be loaded onto a personal computer when certain links are clicked or certain emails are opened.  The spyware then collects certain information from the computer like usernames, passwords, and accounts numbers.  Never open an email or click on a link unless you are certain about the sender.  Always keep your anti-virus software and anti-malware programs up-to-date.

Reverse PIN Myth

Despite internet circulated claims, since 2006, emergency PIN technologies have never been deployed to any ATMs.  Claims stated that anyone being robbed at an ATM could simply enter his or her PIN in reverse to summon help.  This is NOT TRUE.