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Oh, You Better Watch Out (for Holiday Scams!)

Beecher, IL (December 19, 2011)—Just like everyone else, scammers love the holiday season! It gives them all sorts of opportunities to "give" ... to themselves, that is! And what they like to give themselves is your information. According to McAfee, the security technology company, the top scam targets anyone using their smartphone for holiday shopping.  According to Google, there are now more searches being done via mobile devices than desktops. The increased use of mobile devices has given cyber-thieves more ways to cash in by creating malware, malicious mobile apps and phony social network promotions and contests. Contrary to a popular song, "one bad app can spoil the whole bunch" or at the very least, your holiday spirit.

Mobile Malware: Malware has recently been found that targets QR codes, a digital barcode that consumers might scan with their smartphone to find good deals, or just to learn about products they want to buy. Although Android platforms are most at risk, there has been an increase in the number of threats against Apple products. Use caution and know the source before scanning the code.

Malicious Mobile Apps: These are mobile apps designed to steal information from smartphones, or send out expensive text messages without a user’s consent. Dangerous apps are usually offered for free, and masquerade as fun applications, such as games. For example, last year, 4.6 million Android smartphone users downloaded a suspicious wallpaper app that collected and transmitted user data to a site in China.

Phony Facebook Promotions and Contests – Who doesn’t want to win some free prizes or get a great deal around the holidays? Unfortunately, cyberscammers know that these are attractive lures and they have sprinkled Facebook with phony promotions and contests aimed at gathering personal information. Scams advertising free airline tickets or $100 gift cards often require participants to fill out multiple surveys requesting personal information. Another social network precaution: Posting information about a vacation on social networking sites could actually be dangerous. It's easy to find addresses online and if someone sees what a wonderful time you're having on your holiday ski trip, they may decide visit your home while you are away!

Holiday Phishing Scams – Through the use of phony email or social media posts consumers are tricked into revealing information or performing actions they wouldn’t normally do online. Cyberscammers know that most people are busy around the holidays so they tailor their emails and social messages with holiday themes in the hopes of tricking recipients into revealing personal information. One common scam is a phony notice from UPS, saying you have a package and need to fill out an attached form to get it delivered. The form may ask for personal or financial details that will go straight into the hands of the cyberscammer. Banking phishing scams continue to be popular and the holiday season means consumers will be spending more money—and checking bank balances more often. From July to September of this year, McAfee Labs identified approximately 2,700 phishing URLs per day. A newer form of phishing, called Smishing (SMS phishing) sends fake messages via a text alert to a phone, notifying an unsuspecting consumer that his bank account has been compromised. The cybercriminals then direct the consumer to call a phone number to get it re-activated—and collects the user’s personal information including Social Security number, address, and account details.

Stay safe this holiday season and use common sense. The best advice is to make sure you know and trust the source of anything you download. And remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A Note from First Community Bank and Trust:
Protecting our customers’ privacy and their money is our number one priority. If you ever have experiences similar to those described above, please contact us immediately. We will work with you to protect your money.

If your Debit MasterCard is lost or stolen, please do one of the following:

  1. Contact us at (708) 946-2246 or (708) 258-0530.
  2. After hours, within the United States call (800) 523-4175, outside of the United States call (973) 656-2345 (for collect calls).
  3. If you need assistance and you do not have these numbers with you, find the toll-free number for MasterCard™ Global Service™ through local directory assistance, your hotel, or MasterCard’s Web site at www.mastercard.com.

About First Community Bank and Trust
First Community Bank and Trust is a privately owned bank. Established in 1916 First Community Bank and Trust has been serving Beecher, IL, Peotone, IL and the surrounding communities for over 95 years. Our commitment to providing the best banking products and services is matched only by our outstanding customer service. We offer traditional community banking services, including mortgage, consumer, and commercial lending, as well as state of the art electronic banking services.

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Press Contact:
Steven D. Koehn, VP
First Community Bank and Trust
(708) 946-2246