February 1, 2017
We have been made aware that some members of the public have received phone calls that look as though they are coming from our toll-free number, 1-800-837-2265. The malicious actors attempt to lure you into hitting the "#" sign to retrieve an access code, then use the code for malicious activity. We wish to remind you that AmeriServ will never contact you in this manner, nor will we ever contact you to request passwords or other personal information.
Public Service Announcements
Tax season is now upon us, and we want to do our part in helping you to recognize tax scams in an effort to protect you against cyber crime and identity theft.
In recent years, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams and fake IRS communication. REMEMBER: The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
In addition, IRS does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action. Being able to recognize these tell-tale signs of a phishing or tax scam could save you from becoming a victim.
Below you will find a wealth of information on how you can help to protect yourself and others against cyber crime. This information page is available year-round, because we feel strongly about educating our community on how to stay safe online. In addition to the information below, you can check out the following links to learn more from the IRS about protecting yourself against fraud. Then, share what you learn with your friends and neighbors!
IRS Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts
IRS News Releases
Reminders At AmeriServ®, we strive every day to provide you with all of the choices and convenience possible to ensure that you always have access to your bank. While these services are useful and convenient, we want you to know that your safety and security are a top priority. As a reminder, AmeriServ Financial will never send e-mails that require you to return account information to us via public e-mail or through pop-up windows.
Need to Report Fraud?
If you suspect fraud on any of your AmeriServ® accounts, contact us toll-free at 1-800-837-2265.You can also place a fraud alert onto your credit report at the three major credit bureaus:
General Online Safety Questions
How can I keep my computer secure?Very few things in the world are 100% secure. However, just like having a security system in your home or being sure to lock your car, you can do a lot to deter cyber crime by following some simple steps:
- Keep security software current. New computer viruses (and new versions of old ones) are being released all the time. So making sure you have the latest security software, web browser, and operating system updates are your best defenses against these threats. Often, you can set those updates to be automatically installed as soon as they become available.
- Be aware of how you connect to the internet. If you're at home, make sure your WiFi network is password-protected so that outsiders cannot log onto your network and gather information. If you're in a public place that offers WiFi access, be cautious of what you send over their network. Try to refrain from banking or other sensitive activities until you're in a more secure location.
- Check the site. If you are banking or shopping online, check that the site you are using is security-enabled. Look for sites that start with "https://" or "shttp://" which means that the site is taking extra precautions to help secure your information.
What about my mobile device?
Many of the same steps listed above also apply to your mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. In addition, it is a good practice to lock your phone or tablet with a passcode so that a criminal cannot access the device if it becomes lost or stolen.
I keep hearing about "strong passwords". What is a strong password?
A strong password is one that is less likely to be easily guessed. In 2015, the most commonly used password worldwide was still "123456". This is a terrible password. To make a password strong, use a combination of capital and lowercase letters, along with numbers and symbols. Avoid using words that are easily guessed such as your child's name or your favorite sports team. The more unique your password is, the better it will protect you and your personal information.
Do you have any other recommendations?
For a great list, check out the Tips & Advice page created by our partners at Stop.Think.Connect.
What is "Phishing"?
Phishing (pronounced "Fishing") is the attempt to gather sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by posing as a trustworthy person or business in an electronic or telephone communication.
What do Phishing emails look like?
Phishing emails can appear to come from many sources. Examples include your financial institution, social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, or even the Internal Revenue Service. Phishing emails will prompt you to return sensitive data back to the sender via email or phone, or by clicking a link within the message which will take you to a fraudulent webpage for data collection.
How do I know if an email I receive is legitimate?
There are many questions you can ask yourself in order to help you decide whether an email you've received comes from a legitimate source. Here are just a few good examples:
- Does the email have multiple spelling errors or grammatical mistakes?
- Is the name of the supposed sender misspelled?
- Is the sender requesting information that they either do not need access to, or should already have available?
- Does the sender promise a prize or monetary compensation in return for access to your bank account or other service?
- Do company or organization logos seem blurry or stretched out of proportion?
What should I do if I receive an email like this?
The best thing you can do when receiving a fraudulent email is to ignore any requests contained within the message and place it into your email provider's "Junk" or "Spam" folder.
What if I'm not sure that the email is fraudulent?
If you are still unsure whether the email is authentic or fraudulent, you can always contact the sender directly to ask about the content of the email. We recommend not using any phone numbers, addresses, or links contained in the message as a source for contact information. Instead, navigate to the company's website on your own or look up the phone number in a phone book.