How to Spot Fraudulent E-Mails

Every internet user should know about Internet fraud known as "phishing" or "spoofing." Phishing is a technique used to trick you into revealing your personal information such as bank and credit card account numbers, passwords, your birthdate and your social security number.

The scam is very simple. You receive an e-mail that appears to be from a company with whom you do business. It will tell you that your account information is out of date or needs to be re-verified, and it will include a link that will take you to a fake copy of the company's website. There, you'll be asked for your personal information which is then deposited into the hands of the criminals, which they can use to steal your money and your identity.

  1. There may be obvious spelling or grammatical mistakes in the text of the e-mail.
  2. The e-mail may convey a sense of urgency. For example, it might claim that you might be assessed a fee or that your account will be closed or suspended, if you do not respond quickly.
  3. There are embedded links that appear to be legitimate because they contain the company's name. These links will take you to fake websites or pop-up windows that will ask you to provide your sensitive personal information.

Do not be fooled! Heritage Oaks Bank and other companies would never ask you for your personal information via e-mail.

How to Protect Your Accounts

  1. Never click on links found in unsolicited e-mails, especially if they ask for your personal information. Even if you don't enter any personal information, some of these links can install spyware or viruses on your computer that can record your account information.
  2. Bookmark the websites of companies with whom you frequently do business, or type the URL by hand into your browser instead of clicking on links in emails.
  3. Change your passwords regularly.
  4. Make sure that you regularly install security updates on your computer. Many companies, including Microsoft and Netscape, offer these updates for free.
  5. Heritage Oaks Bank will never telephone or e-mail you and ask you to provide your personal account information. Although you may be asked to verify your identity if you call us, we will never contact you requesting this information.
  6. Never send personal information such as account numbers, passwords, your social security number or other confidential information in e-mail.