As police investigate a series of fraudulent e-mails and money reported stolen from personal bank accounts, TCF Bank said yesterday that no one hacked into its database to obtain the information needed to access the accounts.
Four fraud cases were reported last week by people who responded to e-mails and voluntarily gave out personal information. The people reported having large sums of money disappear from their bank accounts.
The e-mails which asked for personal information had “nothing to do with the security and integrity of the bank,” TCF Bank spokesman John Owens said.
Sgt. Robert Neumann of the Department of Public Safety said although it is unusual for so many fraud cases to be reported to DPS at once, these scams are not out of the ordinary.
Owens said this is not the first time people have fallen victim to fraudulent e-mail scams, and that there are scams like this occurring across the country.
These scams — which involve e-mails asking for personal information — are known as phishing. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, phishers will send e-mails or pop-up messages that claim to be from a well-known organization — such as the local bank — in order to steal the identities of their victims.
Neumann said fraudulent e-mails often try to create a sense of urgency by threatening to discontinue bank services or offering a prize incentive if the person responds immediately.
Owens said phishing scams often target young people who are not as bank savvy.
“The bank would never, ever contact someone by e-mail and ask for their Social Security number and their account number. Obviously we have that information already,” Owens added.
The University sent out an e-mail yesterday to warn students about fraudulent e-mails.
“We’re letting people know not to send personal information over e-mail. A bank will never ask — through e-mail — for your PIN number, account number or social security number,” Neuman said.
Owens said many students were deceived because the fraudulent e-mails copied TCF Bank’s logo. Because the students believed the e-mail was legitimate, they gave out personal account information.
DPS is also cautioning students about e-mails that ask for personal information.
“What we’re encouraging people to do is to stop and look at these e-mails, don’t click on anything or open any attachments, and contact the financial institution,” Neumann said.
Owens was unable to comment on specific information regarding the fraud cases because it could compromise some account holders’ information. He said, however, that TCF Bank will continue to communicate with students.
Owens said students can visit TCF Bank’s website, www.tcf-bank.com, for more information on fraud. Students can also call (866) 823-2265 or visit their local branch, which is open seven days a week.
Neumann said DPS is still investigating the fraud cases. He added that DPS is working in conjunction with TCF Bank and other police departments because many of the cases involve money being withdrawn in other states.