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Security Center

Scams - What To Watch For

  • Security Center Glossary

    Security Center Glossary

    Account takeover - A form of Identity Theft where a criminal gains complete control of your account(s) and blocks you from accessing them.
    Application fraud - A form of Identity Theft where a criminal uses your personal information to open new accounts and applications without your knowledge.
    Cache - Website files stored on your computer by your web browser to reduce the loading time when you re-visit a page.
    Database - A collection of information used by virus scanners and anti-spyware programs to identify and remove threats to your computer.
    Email encryption - A security feature used to scramble emails so that only you and an authorized representative can transmit/receive your confidential information.
    Ethernet connection - The standard 'wired' connection to a cable or DSL modem.
    Firewall - A program or device used to screen and identify threats in the data going to and from your computer.
    Hard drive - The physical storage device for your computer's data.
    Malicious software - Fraudsters install malware programs on your computer through various methods, such as hidden attachments to downloads. The malware programs can generate many different fraudulent and nefarious activities.
    Network connection - How your computer connects to the Internet.
    Phishing - A common Internet scam where criminals obtain confidential information by impersonating a trusted source through email.
    Router - A common network device used to connect multiple computers to the same cable/DSL modem.
    Session - The time between logging-in and logging-out of a secure website.
    Spyware - Programs that intercept and transmit your personal information without your permission.
    SSID - The unique name that you give your router.
    Unsolicited email - An email that arrives requesting action/response when there is no grounds for such communication.
    Virus - A destructive self-replicating program that spreads between computers by exchanging files between users.
    Wireless connection - A way of connecting to the Internet without using wires, typically through a wireless router or access point.
    Wireless encryption - A way of restricting access to a wireless connection by enforcing a password.
    Worm - A self-propagating form of virus that can spread without users actively trading files.
    BMO Financial Group is providing you with the information contained on these Security pages for your personal use only on the understanding that you agree that BMO Financial Group has no liability to you for providing you with this information, whether or not you rely on it. BMO Financial Group does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information.
  • How to Protect Yourself from "Phishing" and Email Scams

    How to Protect Yourself from "Phishing" and Email Scams

    You may have experienced or read about recent incidents of unsolicited email messages masquerading as legitimate companies that trick recipients into disclosing personal and financial information.
    These "phishing" (also called "brand spoofing") emails send you to web sites pretending to be legitimate companies or government agencies that ask for your personal and financial information.
    Reminder: BMO Harris will never contact you by unsolicited phone call or email and ask for your User ID, Password, PIN, social security number or other sensitive information. You should never send personal identification numbers or sensitive information by email as it is not a secure method of contact.
    If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud or would like to report suspicious activity, visit the "Report Fraud & Suspicious Activity" section of this site for important information. Visit your branch or contact us using a known legitimate number (for example, the number on the back of your debit card).
    How The Scams Work
    A common email scam uses unsolicited email to deceive consumers into disclosing confidential personal information. The deceptive email suggests clicking on a link or attachment for any one of the following reasons:
    • Change / update to personal information
    • Contests
    • Possible suspension of client cards or accounts
    • Possible loss of deposit insurance
    • Application for products
    After clicking on an attachment or link from the unsolicited email, the user is taken to a bogus site that requests confidential personal information, which could include:
    • ATM or Debit Card Numbers/User ID's
    • Account Numbers
    • Personal Identification Numbers (PINs)
    • Credit Card Numbers
    • Social Security Numbers
    • Other Personal or Private Information
    • Passwords
    How To Identify the Scam
    There are some commonalities that can help you identify the scams:
    • They are designed to mimic the look and feel of a genuine site
    • They are most commonly sent out through unsolicited emails, containing links or attachments
    • The Web address will often have the @ symbol or a numeric address (eg.123.456.1.2). The address may also include the word, phrase or text 'harris ' or 'bmoharris ' to make it appear authentic.
    • For additional information on how to identify a "Phishing" scam, watch this video.
    How To Help Protect Yourself
    It is important to understand that there are ways in which you can help protect yourself from email fraud and web sites that request your personal or banking information:
    • If you receive an email pretending to be from a member of BMO Harris or M&I that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the email. To ensure that the email is legitimate, contact us immediately:
    • Always enter the full web site using your bookmarks or any of our published URLs.
    • Review your financial statements regularly for unauthorized or suspicious transactions.
    • Never send personal and/or financial information via email.
    • Do not trust email headers. They can be easily forged.
  • Do Not Be A Victim of a Check Scam

    Do Not Be A Victim of a Check Scam

    Has someone asked you to deposit checks for them into your account and then wire them the money minus your commission?
    Have you been informed you are due a sizeable inheritance due to the recent death of a distant relative, but you need to pay certain legal fees to obtain the money?
    Has a stranger offered to pay you for something with a check or money order for more than the purchase price?
    Have you received lottery winnings that require you to pay processing fees?
    Don't Be the Victim of a Check Deposit Scam!
    Each year, check deposit scams defraud thousands of people in the U.S. Even the most skeptical consumer can be deceived. Find out how you can protect yourself and your family.
    Fake Check Scams are on the Rise
    There has been an alarming increase in check scams, with new variations cropping up to trick discerning consumers. It could start with someone offering to buy something you advertised, such as a car, boat or even pedigree dogs. They may offer to pay you to do work at home or negotiate with you on an apartment rental. Or you may have received a check claiming it's part of lottery money that has been deposited in a bank in your name. The possible scenarios are endless.
    The key ingredient is that someone offers to send you a check, cashiers check or money order that is in excess of the amount you require. There is always an overpayment. Then they ask you to wire transfer some or all of the money out of your account or use a money transfer service such as Western Union®.
    he reason for the inflated-value check will vary from one check scam attempt to another. If it's part of a work-at-home scheme, they may claim that you'll be processing checks from customers by depositing the checks and then wiring them the money minus your "pay". Maybe you have an apartment or house to rent. The individual is going to overpay you for the first month's rent, and ask to send the balance to the movers. Or if you receive a check as part of a fake lottery, they claim the total prize cannot be withdrawn unless a large cash deposit is made to "release" the money. Whatever the story, the person may sound quite believable.
    Here's What Happens
    Individuals using fake check scams usually look for victims by scanning newspaper and online advertisements for people listing items for sale. They check postings on online job sites from people seeking employment. They place their own ads with phone numbers or email addresses for people to contact them. They call or send thousands of emails or faxes to people randomly, hoping someone will respond. They win people's confidence by presenting checks that look like they're from legitimate individual or business accounts.
    Your bank may learn, after you withdraw or wire the money from your account, that the check you were given was fraudulent. At this time the check will be returned to the bank unpaid and the full amount of the check will be deducted from your account. Because bank customers are generally responsible for the checks they deposit, the victims of these scams are left to repay the bank the money they withdrew against the bad check.
    The scam usually works because under federal law, banks make the funds you deposit available quickly – usually within one to five days, depending on the type of check. But just because you can withdraw the money doesn't mean the check is good, even if it's a cashier's check. It can take weeks for the forgery to be discovered and the check to be returned.
    What Can You Do?
    Don't get involved in any sale where the buyer wants you to accept a check for an inflated amount and refund the overage. There are usually no legitimate reasons for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back.
    • 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 a bank that has a branch in your area.
    • Ignore requests to pay certain "fees" to process lottery winnings or to increase your chances of winning.
    • Whatever the set-up, the bottom line is if someone you don't know wants to pay you by check but wants you to wire money back, it's probably a scam.
    Don't deposit it – report it! If you believe you have been the victim of or are currently being solicited by a fraudster, contact your local police department immediately.
    If you believe you have recently deposited a fraudulent check or other negotiable item, please Contact BMO Harris Bank at 1-888-340-2265.
    Western Union® is a trademark owned by The Western Union Company, registered in the United States and many foreign countries
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