January 22, 2004

Local Customers Receiving E-mail Banking Scams

Local customers of U.S. Bank, including the Memphis Democrat newspaper, have recently received fraudulent e-mail regarding their bank accounts.

The U.S. Bank website stated “In the past few weeks, the U.S. Bank logo and name have been used without our consent in ‘phishing’ schemes to acquire sensitive information from unsuspecting Web and e-mail users. ‘Phishing’ refers to an individual or group of individuals who create an imitation or copy of an existing legitimate Web page to trick users into providing sensitive personal information. We are working aggressively with law enforcement officials to resolve these incidents after they are brought to our attention.”

The e-mail received by the Memphis Democrat stated that the paper’s bank account had been suspended because it apparently was being accessed by unauthorized parties and apparently was being used to fund illegal activities such as drug trafficking or terrorism. The e-mail then requested that the recipient click a link to a webpage where the user is asked to enter confidential information such as the account numbers, etc.

The bank’s main office issued the following statement “U.S. Bank will never initiate a request for sensitive information from you via e-mail (ie., Social Security Number, Personal ID, Password, PIN or account number). If you receive an e-mail that requests this type of sensitive information, you should be suspicious of it. We strongly suggest that you do not share your Personal ID, Password, PIN or account number with anyone, under any circumstances.”

Despite the scam bank authorities stressed that their system had not been broken into and that their customers are safe.

“Please know that neither your personal U.S. Bank account information nor our U.S. Bank systems have been compromised in any way,” the bank’s website stated. “Cyber-criminals are ‘spamming’ large numbers of recipients, without actual knowledge of their banking affiliation, with fraudulent e-mails like these. They request and collect e-mail addresses and other confidential information like financial account numbers, IDs and passwords. The cyber-criminals have copied the logos and the content styles of widely known and respected financial institutions (including U.S. Bank) in an attempt to elicit a response from a recipient who may or may not be a customer of that financial institution.”

However bank officials noted that customers that have responded to such e-mails and that have given out their bank information unknowingly to these criminals should immediately call the U.S. Bank Fraud Liaison Center toll-free at 1-877-595-6256.

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