Experts offer tips to avoid financial fraud

Haley Warwick, Staff

Credit and debit card scams among students

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That is what Ryan Dozier, financial center manager at Fifth Third Bank in Jeffersonville, said students need to be aware of.

“I was a student once, I know what it is like,” Dozier said. “Students may need money, but if it is a quick buck, it’s probably not legal or valid.”

Erica Bates, financial fraud investigator at Republic Bank in Louisville, said students locally have been getting hit with a scam that is based out of Chicago, Illinois.

“Students are approached and [are told] if they give this person their pin number and debit card, [and] let them withdraw all the money, then they [the student] can say it was fraud and get their money back,” Bates said.

Bates said there are some serious repercussions that can come out of being involved in this type of fraud.

“But [students] don’t know they are restricted to time frames to report fraud and when the bank catches on, they are seen as an accomplice,” Bates said.

Bates said this scam has caused a lot of problems for students locally.

“No one wants to start out like that. They [the students] are trying to go to college and better themselves, and getting into that kind of trouble isn’t want they need,” Bates said.

Bates said scams like this will likely keep presenting themselves to students, so being alert and reporting suspicious offers or activities to your bank is important.


Internet credit and debit card fraud

President of The Computer Security Group Nolan Pruett, computer science junior, said students should be careful where they use Wi-Fi and what they use it for.

Pruett said while debit or credit card fraud can happen in many different ways; online debit and credit card fraud is something students should take seriously.

He said students may not know that going to a coffee shop and connecting to the shop’s Wi-Fi could possibly compromise their privacy.

“If you shop online other people can to see what you are doing,” Pruett said.

Pruett said this could be an easy way for someone to take your personal card information and you will not be aware of it.

He said students should also be aware of “http” sites that are not secure.

“Https sites are secure because they have the ‘s’ at the end which stands for secure. If it is just http, it’s not secure,” Pruett said.

Pruett said making sure to check if the site is secure before making purchases or providing identifying information at a site that is not well known is important.

Bates said students should steer clear of “mom and pop” sites for online shopping if possible.

“Mom and pop shops have less security,” Bates said.

Bates said if you have to purchase things online, go to known websites because they are monitored more and have more security.

Dozier said students should keep passwords and personal bank information that is stored on their computers or phones to a minimum.

“Living in a dorm or a place close to other students, keep your information secure,” Dozier said.

Dozier said students may trust those they live with, but having information on a device that is not secure is just not safe.

Pruett also said that students should avoid using passwords that would be easy for someone to figure out with a little digging on social media.

He said students may establish passwords using phrases or names of things they are interested in. Pruett said with so much self-expression on social media, students may unknowingly be giving hackers an easy way into their account information.


Changes coming to bank cards

Bates said America is one of the last countries in the world to utilize chip cards.

She said regular debits cards currently have a three digit number on the back and a black stripe which we swipe when making a purchase. These black stripes will be taking on some new technology soon enough.

“These are dynamic chip cards where the information changes,” Bates said.

The information that links your card back to your account will change all the time, which will make it very difficult for someone to duplicate your card to make fraudulent charges on it Bates said.

Bates said even though debit and credit cards are not always percent safe, we will never revert back to all cash, so these chips will help move us in a better direction.

“Europe has been using it a long time and it’s [fraud] has gone down significantly,” Dozier said.

Dozier said this upgrade will become very mainstream in the next couple of years since companies have to invest in them.


Melissa Hill from the Bursars Office said in an email that UCards should be kept safe just like a debit or credit card.

Hill said that students should not leave it lying around where other people could use it.

She said the UCard is a safe form of payment.

“Since the UCard program was implemented in 2007, I have not had any reports where a student’s card was stolen and used fraudulently,” Hill said.

Hill provided some steps a student should take to deactivate their UCard.

“You should deactivate your UCard immediately on our website,” Hill said.

“To deactivate your UCard, go to transaction history. Under the “cardholder information” section click the “lost or stolen UCard” link to enable the deactivation.  You can also reactivate your card here in case you find it before a new one is printed,” Hill said.

Investing in prevention  

Dozier said a service that Fifth Third Bank offers is called “Identity Alert” would be a good investment for students. This service monitors debit card activity and if it detects a suspicious charge it will notify the owner.

Dozier said he compares this service to car insurance since it is a service clients pay for, but it does pay off in peace of mind and in the event something does happen.

“You will be glad you have it,” Dozier said.

Dozier said other banks normally offer some type of this service as well.

Pruett suggested that students use an anti-virus software on any devices they use to search the internet. Pruett said the anti-virus software may cost some money, but it is important to have something like that monitoring your device.