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preventing fraud

The USA Patriot Act has paved the way for financial institutions to help prevent fraud, identify theft, and the spread of terrorism. It requires financial institutions to obtain more information from an individual or legal entity to help establish identity.

Your cooperation is needed when you open a new account or request a loan. You may be asked more questions to establish and confirm your identity. It may also be required for you to provide one or more of the following types of identification:

  • Driver's license
  • Passport and country of issuance
  • U.S. taxpayer identification (ID) number
  • Alien ID card
  • Any other government-issued document evidencing nationally or residence


Guard your Social Security number

  • Never carry your Social Security card and know your surroundings when disclosing your Social Security number
  • Never provide your Social Security number unless you initiated contact and have confirmed the person or business' identity.
  • Do not record your Social Security number on a check, traveler check, gift certificate, etc., unless required by law.
  • Do not use any part of your Social Security number as a Personal Identification Number (PIN) or password.
  • If you must provide your Social Security number in an email or website, ensure that it is encrypted and know how the recipient will protect it.

Secure your computer

  • Web browser updates are provided with your security in mind so keep them current
  • Operating system and software patches or service packs should be installed as soon as possible.
  • Anti-spyware and anti-virus software helps detect and remove 'bad' software that can steal vital information.
  • A firewall prevents unauthorized users from gaining access to the computer or monitoring transfers of information to and from the computer.
  • Always use the highest level of security possible when setting up and connecting to wireless networks.
  • Never transmit sensitive information over and unencrypted wireless network.

Eliminate Paper

  • Sign up for direct deposit and have funds put into your account electronically without paper checks.
  • Sign up for e-statements and stop receiving statements and canceled checks in the mail.  View them online instead.
  • Reduce the amount of mail and paper with your personal information printed on it to minimize the chance of criminals stealing it.


Malware, short for "malicious software," includes viruses, spyware and trojans that are designed to infect or damage a computer system. Malware is often used to steal personal information and commit fraud. There are several easy ways to minimize the risk of malware:

  • Updated security and system software can protect your computer from malware threats.
  • Attachments or free software from unknown sources should not be opened or installed. 
  • Downloads from file sharing and social networking sites can be sources of malware.
  • Pop-up ads asking for personal or financial information are likely fraudulent, so close them.

Phishing or spoofing

Thieves may send you an email that looks like it comes from West Shore Bank.  These emails ask you to go to a website that looks like West Shore Bank's website and provide your personal account information.  They may even ask you to call a phone number and provide account information but the website is fake.  Look for the following information to determine if the email is really from West Shore Bank:

  • West Shore Bank emails will never ask you to reply in an email with your personal information and any email that does should raise your concern.
  • The message may contains claims that your account will be closed if you fail to confirm, verify or authenticate your personal information.  West Shore Bank will not ask you to verify your information in this way.
  • Messages about system and security updates claim the Bank needs to confirm important information due to upgrades and states that you must update your information online.  West Shore Bank will not ask you to verify information in this way.
  • Typos and other errors are often the mark of fraudulent emails or websites.  Watch out for typos or grammatical errors, awkward writing and poor visual design.
  • Offers that sound too good to be true often are.  You may be asked to fill out a short customer service survey in exchange for money being credited to your account, and you are then asked to provide your account number for proper routing of the supposed credit. West Shore Bank will not request your information in this way.

Money Mules

Money mules are unsuspecting victims who become middlemen for criminals trying to launder stolen funds.  Victims are lured by the promise of love or a new career opportunity making large sums of money for minimal work.  Criminals recruit money mules, send them stolen money and then ask the money mules to wire or transfer the money unwittingly to the criminals.  Using the money mule masks the criminal's identity.

The money mule may keep a commission for performing the transfer or wire.  The victims of these scams may not only have their bank accounts closed and financial reputation ruined, but are often left financially responsible for returning the stolen funds.

Common signs of a money mule scam are:

  • Accepting large sums of money into your account for a new job.
  • Transferring or wiring funds out of your account to people you do not know.
  • Opening a new account to receive money from someone you do not know.
  • Oversea companies requesting money transfer agents.


Vishing uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to call, leaving an automated recording.  It alerts the consumer that their account has experienced unusual activity.  The message instructs the consumer to call the same phone number shown in the spoofed caller ID with the same name as the bank they are pretending to represent.  Sometimes criminals who try to get consumers to turn over personal data send emails and text messages containing fraudulent phone numbers.

Rather than provide any information, you should contact West Shore Bank at the customer service number you normally use to verify the validity of the message.


Fake Mobile Banking apps

Criminals may develop and publish fake mobile banking applications to steal your online banking credentials.  Always look for these signs before installing a mobile banking application:

  • The developer or publisher of the application is West Shore Bank.
  • Only download the application from the official 'store' for your device.
  • Mobile applications for West Shore Bank are currently free.  If there is a charge for the application, it's not legitimate.


SMShing is phishing via SMS text messaging.  A criminal will send a text message to trick you into replying with financial or personal information or clicking links that will install viruses onto your mobile device.

  • Do not respond to a text message that requests personal or financial information; West Shore Bank will never ask you for this.
  • Verify the phone number(s) that appear in the text message.  Store West Shore Bank in your device contacts for a quick cross-check.

Stolen devices

  • Password protect your device.
  • Turn on the screen lock.
  • Use a remote wipe application.
  • Keep records of the make, model, serial number and IMEI number of your device.
  • If your device is stolen, log into Online Banking and remove that device from Mobile Banking.

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