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Cybersecurity Awareness Basics

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Consumers increasingly rely on computers and the Internet — the “cyber” world — for everything from shopping and communicating to banking and bill-paying. But while the benefits of faster and more convenient cyber services for bank customers are clear, the risks posed by these services as well as the strategies for preventing or recovering from cyber-related crimes may not be as well-known by the average consumer and small business owner.
Common cyber-related crimes include identity theft, frauds, and scams. Identity theft involves a crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data to open fraudulent credit card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, withdraw funds from deposit accounts, or obtain new loans. A victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses but also substantial costs to restore credit history and to correct erroneous information in their credit reports.
In addition to identity theft, every year millions of people are victims of frauds and scams, which often start with an e-mail, text message, or phone message that appears to be from a legitimate, trusted organization. The message typically asks consumers to verify or update personal information. Similarly, criminals create bogus websites for such things as credit repair services in the hopes that consumers will enter personal information.
If you think you are a victim of a fraud or scam, contact your state, local, or federal consumer protection agency. Also, a local law enforcement officer may be able to provide advice and assistance. By promptly reporting fraud, you improve your chances of recovering what you have lost and you help law enforcement. The agency you contact first may take action directly or refer you to another agency better positioned to protect you.
Violations of federal laws should be reported to the federal agency responsible for enforcement. Consumer complaints are used to document patterns of abuse, allowing the agency to take action against a company.
People who have no intention of delivering what is sold, who misrepresent items, send counterfeit goods or otherwise try to trick you out of your money are committing fraud. If you suspect fraud, there are some additional steps to take.

  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
  • If the fraud involved mail or an interstate delivery service, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service ( It is illegal to use the mail to misrepresent or steal money.

How to Avoid Identity Theft

The best protection against identity theft is to carefully protect your personal information, for example:

  • Do not share personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you initiated the contact or know the person you are dealing with;
  • Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly online and asks for your personal information. It doesn’t matter how legitimate the e-mail or website may look. Only open e-mails that look like they are from people or organizations you know, and even then, be cautious if they look questionable. Be especially wary of fraudulent e-mails or websites that have typos or other obvious mistakes;
  • Don’t give out valuable personal information in response to unsolicited requests. Social Security numbers, financial account information and your driver’s license number are some of the details that should be kept confidential;
  • Shred old receipts, account statements, and unused credit card offers;
  • Choose PINs and passwords that would be difficult to guess and avoid using easily identifiable information such as your mother’s maiden name, birth dates, the last four digits of your social security number, or phone numbers;
  • Pay attention to billing cycles and account statements and contact your bank if you don’t receive a monthly bill or statement since identity thieves often divert account documentation;
  • Review account statements thoroughly to ensure all transactions are authorized;
  • Guard your mail from theft, promptly remove incoming mail, and do not leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox with the flag up for pick up by mail carrier;
  • Obtain your free credit report annually and review your credit history to ensure it is accurate;
  • Use an updated security program to protect your computer; and
  • Be careful about where and how you conduct financial transactions, for example don’t use an unsecured Wi-Fi network because someone might be able to access the information you are transmitting or viewing.

How to Avoid Frauds & Scams

There are numerous scams presented daily to consumers so you must always exercise caution when it comes to your personal and financial information. The following tips may help prevent you from becoming a fraud victim.

  • Be aware of incoming e-mail or text messages that ask you to click on a link because the link may install malware that allows thieves to spy on your computer and gain access to your information;
  • Be suspicious of any e-mail or phone requests to update or verify your personal information because a legitimate organization would not solicit updates in an unsecured manner for information it already has;
  • Confirm a message is legitimate by contacting the sender (it is best to look up the sender’s contact information yourself instead of using contact information in the message);
  • Assume any offer that seems too good to be true, is probably a fraud;
  • Be on guard against fraudulent checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or electronic fund transfers sent to you with requests for you to wire back part of the money;
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers that require you to act fast;
  • Check your security settings on social network sites. Make sure they block out people who you don’t want seeing your page;
  • Research any “apps” before downloading and don’t assume an “app” is legitimate just because it resembles the name of your bank or other company you are familiar with;
  • Be leery of any offers that pressure you to send funds quickly by wire transfer or involve another party who insists on secrecy; and
  • Beware of Disaster-Related Financial Scams. Con artists take advantage of people after catastrophic events by claiming to be from legitimate charitable organizations when, in fact, they are attempting to steal money or valuable personal information.

Learn More

ATM Fraud: Consumer Tips

ATM Attacks are among the most prevalent forms of fraud striking banking institutions and their customers. And while institutions are ever more vigilant at defending against these increasingly sophisticated crimes, the best defense might still be the simplest: Customer education.Here are some tips to help reduce ATM skimming incidents - Fighting Back Through Education:

  1. Be wary of anything about the ATM machine that looks out of the ordinary, such as odd-looking equipment or wires attached to the device.
  2. Look for a "no tampering" sign. Crooks often place these to stop anyone curious about a new piece of equipment.
  3. Steer clear of a jammed ATM machine that forces customers to use another ATM that has a skimmer attached. Often, the criminal will disable other ATMs in the area to draw users to the one that has the skimming device on it.
  4. Customers should check their bank accounts regularly to make sure there are no unusual or unauthorized transactions. Federal law limits loss from ATM fraud, and many banks offer additional protection. Consumers should check with their financial institution for details.
  5. If you see anything unusual or suspicious around an ATM, or if you find unauthorized ATM transactions on your bank account, immediately notify local law enforcement, as well as your financial institution and/or the establishment where the ATM is located.
  6. Always protect your PIN: Don't give the number to anyone, and cover the keypad while you are entering your PIN.

Avoid a vacation property rental scam

Ready to start booking your next vacation? Maybe you’re thinking about renting a house or condo. These days it’s easy to connect directly with property owners who advertise their vacation homes online, and you’ve probably heard wonderful stories from people who rent vacation properties. We have, too. But we’ve also heard from people who’ve fallen for vacation rental scams.

    Just this year, the FTC received thousands of complaints related to rental scams. Some complaints are from people who wired money to lease a vacation property, and then learned that the person they were dealing with was not the actual owner. Other complaints are from renters who were asked to pay upfront using PayPal, only to find out later that PayPal doesn’t offer the same protections for services and intangible goods — like real estate rentals — as for physical items. In both scenarios, the people wanting to rent a vacation property lost money. Here are some tips to help you avoid this scheme:

  • Wiring money is the same as sending cash. If you wire money to a person you’ve never met, you have no way to trace it or get it back. If a property owner asks you to pay in full upfront and requires payment via MoneyGram, Western Union or Green Dot cards, it could be a scam.

    • Don’t be rushed into a decision. If you receive an email pressuring you to make a decision on the spot for a rental, ignore it and move on.
    • The lower the price for a premium vacation property, the more likely it’s a scam. Rip-off artists love to attract people’s interest by offering below-market rent.
    • Get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. Check that the address of the property really exists. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm the location of the property and other details on the contract.

    If you responded to an ad for a vacation rental property and believe that you were scammed, report it at You also can contact the fraud department of the website where you found the ad. You may not get your money back, but you can help others by getting the ad removed.

New report highlights recommendations to protect consumers from mobile cramming

Chances are you have a mobile phone – according to a Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project survey, almost 90 percent of us do. And like most of us, you may not pour over every line on your monthly phone bill to understand what you are really paying for. Too bad, because mobile cramming – adding charges to mobile bills that people didn’t authorize or know about – is an illegal practice – and it has become practically epidemic, according to the FTC.

The consumer protection agency is trying to change that landscape, using enforcement, consumer education, and policy discussions. Today, the FTC issued a report with five key recommendations for industry stakeholders that could protect all of us mobile phone users from mobile cramming. Read it here – but in the meantime, here’s what you can do to protect yourself:

  • Read your phone bill line by line, every month. One way you might detect bogus cramming charges is to get into the habit of taking the time to read your statement online, or the one that comes in the mail.
  • Regardless if you are a new or existing customer, ask your carrier to block third- party charges. The third-party blocking service is often offered free of charge. You just have to speak up.
  • Call you carrier and demand a refund for charges you didn’t know about or authorize. Be persistent when you complain to your carrier about the charges, and know that some carriers have a 60-day period for refund requests. Even if you’ve detected a years’ worth of fraudulent charges, the phone carrier may offer to refund only a part of it.

File a complaint with the FTC and let us know what’s happening. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of mobile cramming, call your mobile carrier first to complain, then fill out our complaint form online, or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

By Cristina Miranda, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Security Information

Beach Community Bank's Online Banking application has not been affected by the recently discovered Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL. Beach Community Bank has security protocols in place for all systems, and is committed to protecting your information.

For our customers’ personal internet safety we recommend you maintain separate usernames and passwords across multiple websites and change your passwords regularly to create additional layers of security.

Please contact us at 850-244-9900 with any questions or concerns.

Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

The FDIC published an informative article on how to spot and prevent elder financial abuse. You can read the article at

FDIC Consumer Newsletter Offers Strategies for Building a Better Financial Future

Consumers have important decisions to make when it comes to managing money and saving for their future, particularly in a tough economy when every dollar counts. To help consumers make choices based on practical information from reliable sources, the Fall 2011 issue of FDIC Consumer News offers simple strategies in three areas: saving for retirement, improving credit scores, and buying vs. renting a home. In addition, the issue offers new tips and information related to Internet banking. Here's an overview:

  • Ways to plan and save for retirement: Consumers and small business owners are fortunate to have a variety of retirement savings options, which are especially important now that traditional pensions and other employer-funded retirement plans have become increasingly rare. The FDIC newsletter discusses basic characteristics of different types of retirement options so that consumers, perhaps in consultation with a financial planner or tax advisor, can make the right choices.
  • Improving credit reports and scores: The information in a credit report may be used to help determine whether or not someone will get a loan and at what price — and perhaps even the cost of insurance or the ability to get a new job or apartment. The FDIC newsletter describes simple steps for improving credit reports and credit scores, including the importance of paying loans and other bills on time.
  • Renting vs. buying a home: With housing prices still low in many areas and a favorable mortgage-rate environment, people who don't own a home may be thinking about buying instead of renting. The newsletter offers points to consider on both sides. For instance, renting offers more "freedom to move" and smaller up-front costs, while buying a home and living there long enough to pay off the mortgage yields a valuable asset to sell or leave to a family member.
  • Connecting to Internet banking: The newsletter describes the new guidelines from the FDIC and other federal regulators, effective January 1, 2012, on how banks should verify that someone logging on to a bank's Web site is the real owner of a particular account. The FDIC also is warning consumers to be on guard against a repeat of previous scams that surfaced the last time the agencies announced new security guidelines in 2005. The newsletter also offers tips for people who haven't tried Internet banking but would consider getting started.

The goal of FDIC Consumer News is to deliver timely, reliable and innovative tips and information about financial matters, free of charge. The Fall 2011 edition can be read or printed at

-Information courtesy of FDIC.

Fraudulent "FDIC Notification" E-Mails with Attachment

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous reports of fraudulent e-mails that appear to be from the FDIC and contain an infected attachment.

The fraudulent e-mails have addresses such as "" or "" on the "From" line. The message appears, with spelling and grammatical errors, as follows:

Subject line: "FDIC notification"
Message body: "Dear customer, Your account ACH and WIRE transaction have been temporarily suspended for security reasons due to the expiration of your security version. To download and install the newest installations read the document(pdf) attached below. As soon as it is setup, you transaction abilities will be fully restored. Best Regards, Online Security departament, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation."

The e-mails contain an attachment "" that will likely release malicious software if opened. These e-mails and attachments are fraudulent and were not sent by the FDIC. Recipients should consider these e-mails an attempt to collect personal or confidential information, or to load malicious software onto end users' computers. Recipients should NOT open the attachment.

Consumers should be aware that these fraudulent e-mails may be modified over time with other subject lines, sender names, and narratives. The FDIC does not directly contact consumers, nor does the FDIC request bank customers to install software upgrades.

-Reprinted from FDIC

Fraudulent E-Mails Claiming to Be From the FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous reports of fraudulent e-mails that have the appearance of being from the FDIC.

The e-mails appear to be sent from various "" e-mail addresses, such as "," "," or ""

They have subject lines that read: "FDIC: Your business account" or "FDIC: About Your Business Account."

The e-mails are addressed to "Business Customer" or "Business Owner" and state "We have important information about your bank" or "…financial institution." They then ask recipients to "Please click here to find details."

They conclude with, "This includes information on the acquiring bank (if applicable), how your accounts and loans are affected, and how vendors can file claims against the receivership."

These e-mails and the link included are fraudulent and were not sent by the FDIC. Recipients should consider the intent of these e-mails as an attempt to collect personal or confidential information, or to load malicious software onto end users' computers. Recipients should NOT access the link provided within the body of the e-mails and should NOT, under any circumstances, provide any personal financial information through this media.

Financial institutions and consumers should be aware that other subject lines and modifications to the e-mails may occur over time. The FDIC does not directly contact consumers in this manner nor does the FDIC request personal financial information from consumers.

For your reference, FDIC Special Alerts may be accessed from the FDIC's Website at To learn how to automatically receive FDIC Special Alerts through email, please visit

Questions related to federal deposit insurance or consumer issues should be submitted to the FDIC using an online form that can be accessed at

-Information courtesy of the FDIC

Basic Strategies for Simplifying Your Financial Life

There are many reasons to organize and simplify your financial life. Eliminating clutter, saving time and reducing stress are surely among them. And here's another motivating factor: Not keeping tabs on your finances can be costly if it results in fees or interest charges you could have avoided, investment losses, additional taxes or other pitfalls. FDIC Consumer News offers a checklist of nine basic things you can do to get your money matters in order...and keep them that way.

-Reprinted courtesy of the FDIC

Suspicious Calls Claiming to Be From the FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous reports of suspicious telephone calls where the caller claims to represent the FDIC and is calling regarding the collection of an outstanding debt.

To date, the callers have alleged that the call recipient is delinquent in payment of a loan that was applied for over the Internet or made through a payday lender. The loan may or may not actually exist. The caller attempts to authenticate the claim by providing sensitive personal information, such as name, Social Security number, and date of birth, supposedly taken from the loan application. The recipient is then strongly urged to make a payment over the phone to "avoid a lawsuit and possible arrest." In some instances, the caller is said to sound aggressive and threatening.

These suspicious telephone calls are fraudulent. Recipients should consider them as an attempt to steal money or collect personal identifying information. The FDIC generally does not initiate unsolicited telephone calls to consumers and is not involved with the collection of debts on behalf of operating lenders and financial institutions.

If a caller demonstrates that he or she has the recipient's sensitive personal information, such as Social Security number, date of birth, and bank account numbers, the recipient may be the victim of identity theft and should review his or her credit reports for signs of possible fraud. The individual should also consider placing a "fraud alert" on his or her credit reports. This can be done by contacting one of the three consumer reporting companies listed below. Only one of the three companies needs to be contacted. That company is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of the report.

  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289;; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, California 92834-6790
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285;; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, Georgia 30374-0241
  • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742);; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, Texas 75013

Information about counterfeit items, cyber-fraud incidents and other fraudulent activity may be forwarded to the FDIC's Cyber-Fraud and Financial Crimes Section, 550 17th Street, N.W., Room F-3054, Washington, D.C. 20429, or transmitted electronically to Questions related to federal deposit insurance or consumer issues should be submitted to the FDIC using an online form that can be accessed at

- Release reprinted from the FDIC.

Basic FDIC Insurance Coverage Permanently Increased to $250,000 Per Depositor

On July 21, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which, in part, permanently raises the current standard maximum deposit insurance amount to $250,000. The standard maximum insurance amount of $100,000 had been temporarily raised to $250,000 until December 31, 2013. The FDIC insurance coverage limit applies per depositor, per insured depository institution for each account ownership category.

The temporary increase from $100,000 to $250,000 was effective from October 3, 2008, through December 31, 2010. On May 20, 2009, the temporary increase was extended through December 31, 2013.

"With this permanent increase of deposit insurance coverage to $250,000, depositors with CDs above $100,000 but below $250,000 will no longer have to worry about losing coverage on those CDs maturing beyond 2013. We strongly encourage all bank depositors who have questions about their insurance coverage to go to our Web site at and use our Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE) or call our toll-free number at 1-877-ASK-FDIC. Insured deposits provide the comfort and peace of mind to depositors that their money is 100 percent safe – provided they keep their deposit balances within the insurance limits," said FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair.

To help consumers, bankers and others understand how the new law affects deposit insurance coverage and to help consumers verify whether their deposit accounts are fully protected, the FDIC provides the following resources:

  • Information on deposit insurance on the FDIC Web site: Updated brochures on deposit insurance coverage (including the basic guide, Deposit Insurance Summary, and the more comprehensive guide, Your Insured Deposits) and a new version of the "Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator" (EDIE), an interactive service that allows consumers to quickly and easily check whether their accounts are fully protected, are now available on the FDIC's Web site ( ).
  • A toll-free consumer assistance line: Help and information about deposit insurance and other matters of interest to bank customers are available at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

- Press release reprinted from the FDIC.

FDIC Consumer Tip of the Week

Have you recently deposited a large sum in your bank account from a home sale, inheritance or an IRA rollover? Make sure your deposit is fully insured. Visit the FDIC website for information on how to check your FDIC insurance.

FDIC Consumer Tip of the Week

You may know you are entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. But do you know there may be advantages to spreading out those requests? Visit the FDIC website for information.

FDIC Consumer Tip of the Week

Have you or someone you know gotten an offer involving a large check to be deposited into your account and instructions to wire any of that money back, perhaps to someone in another country? If you follow the instructions and wire money out of your account, you may end up owing thousands of dollars to your financial institution. Read this FDIC article for more information.

FDIC Consumer Tip of the Week

You want your documents to be safe, but you probably should not keep your passport, "powers of attorney" or other items you may need immediate access to in your safe deposit box. Learn more at .

Review Your Credit Report for Free

To fight identity theft, you should monitor your credit report several times a year. You may request up to three reports annually at no charge online, by phone or through the mail. The only authorized source for your free credit report is Learn more from the Federal Trade Commission at

FDIC Consumer Tip of the Week

You can protect yourself against a variety of financial frauds and scams by being extremely skeptical of unsolicited offers that involve "updating" or "confirming" personal information or requirements that you send a payment or provide bank account information before receiving anything in return. Learn more at

FDIC Consumer News 


Those blank "convenience checks" from your credit card company offer a quick way to write yourself a loan, pay bills or transfer other loans to your credit card account, but they often come with high costs and other potential pitfalls. Learn more at

Fraudulent E-Mails Claiming to Be From the FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has become aware of e-mails appearing to be sent from the FDIC that are asking recipients to download and open a “personal FDIC insurance file" to check their deposit insurance coverage. These e-mails are fraudulent and were not sent by the FDIC. The FDIC is attempting to identify the source of the e-mails and disrupt the transmission.

Currently, the subject line of the fraudulent e-mails includes the wording “check your Bank Deposit Insurance Coverage." The e-mails state: “You have received this message because you are a holder of a FDIC-insured bank account. Recently FDIC has officially named the bank you have opened your account with as a failed bank, thus, taking control of its assets."

The e-mails ask recipients to “visit the official FDIC website" by clicking on a hyperlink provided, which appears to be related to the FDIC and directs recipients to a fraudulent Web site. The Web site includes hyperlinks that appear to open forms. However, it is believed that clicking on the hyperlinks will cause an unknown executable file to be downloaded. While the FDIC is working with the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) to determine the exact effects of the executable file, recipients should consider the intent of the software as a malicious attempt to collect personal or confidential information, some of which may be used to gain unauthorized access to online banking services or to conduct identity theft. Financial institutions and consumers should NOT access the Web site or download the executable files provided on the Web site.

Information about counterfeit items, cyber-fraud incidents and other fraudulent activity may be forwarded to the FDIC’s Cyber-Fraud and Financial Crimes Section, 550 17th Street, N.W., Room F-3054, Washington, D.C. 20429, or transmitted electronically to Information related to federal deposit insurance or consumer issues should be submitted to the FDIC using an online form that can be accessed at For your reference, FDIC Special Alerts may be accessed from the FDIC’s website at To learn how to automatically receive FDIC Special Alerts through e-mail, please visit

-Press release reprinted from the FDIC

Credit Card Interest Rate Reduction Telephone Scam

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is receiving reports of a new telephone scam from a company that refers to itself as "CreditCard Services." The company claims to be affiliated with the FDIC and offers to lower credit card interest rates.

To verify qualification of the lower interest rate, the caller asks for personal or confidential information. This scam is a variation of a telephone scam in which identity thieves try to persuade consumers to provide information such as, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, social security numbers, and PIN numbers, in the attempt to access accounts or to commit identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission encourages consumers to report telemarketing fraud at or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. See the following link to the FTC's Web site for more information:

Information about fraudulent activity involving the FDIC should also be transmitted electronically to the FDIC's Cyber-Fraud and Financial Crimes Section by e-mailing it to

-Press release reprinted from FDIC

Information On Private Bank Rating Organizations

On Wednesday, October 1, 2008 WEAR-TV ran a story regarding ratings that private organizations assign to commercial banks. Although the ratings are provided to the public for free, these private organizations seek to either sell you additional information about their ratings or sell other products or services they offer on their website. They also want to draw more internet traffic to their website, generating more ad revenue from their advertisers. Frankly, the more sensational the ratings on their website, the more ‘hits’ they get and the more money they potentially make.

We want to emphasize that the data these organizations utilize is already available free of charge to the public at the FDIC’s website These organizations have no unique or inside information about our bank or any bank beyond what is freely and publicly available on the FDIC’s website. They do not consult with the FDIC or any other federal or state banking regulator. The ratings assigned to each bank by its regulator are, by law, confidential and are not released to the general public.

Referring to the ratings put out by the private organizations, Linda Charity, Director of the Division of Financial Institutions in the Office of Financial Regulation with the State of Florida, was quoted in the WEAR-TV news story saying "This is not the picture of a financial institution's health and safety and soundness. There are other factors, other critical factors, that go into the assessment." She went on to say that regulators examine banks thoroughly every year.

Beach Community Bank meets and exceeds all “well-capitalized" definitions used by the federal and state regulatory agencies. We are a member of the FDIC and all deposits are insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

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