The Many Faces of Fraud

At Timberland Bank, we are committed to providing you with the tools you need to make sound financial decisions. In today's day and age, doing so requires being able to recognize the different types of fraud and the ways to prevent each one.

How To Fight Fraud

Explore the information below to learn what to avoid and how to protect yourself from fraud:

Check Fraud

Here's how to identify whether a check is legitimate or altered in some way.

Check fraud has been around for awhile and there is no indication it is going to go away anytime soon. Avoid becoming a victim with these three easy steps:

Step One - Always verify photo identification when accepting a stranger's check, even if they've already written the ID number on the check. A common scam is to have the ID number already conveniently located on the check so the person receiving the check has a great comfort level.

Step Two - Always check the Memo line. If it says anything other than the transaction you are processing, it's likely a bad check.

Step Three - Keep an eye out for common alterations involved in check fraud such as:

  • Are the fonts the same throughout the check?
  • Are there misspelled words?
  • Does the area code for the phone number make sense in reference to the address?
  • Is there a bank or credit union listed on the check with a small logo?
  • Does the check have a bad odor or scent?
  • Is the print clear and crisp or fuzzy and blurred?
  • Does the check feel like a real check or is the texture off?
  • Is the check discolored or stained?
  • Can you see other writing on the check?

As always, if you suspect something is wrong with a check you receive, please contact us for assistance. We'll be happy to help!

Card Fraud

Get familiar with the dos and don'ts of card fraud to avoid this common crime.

Card fraud, debit or credit, can occur in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:

  • A dishonest clerk makes an extra imprint or "skims" your card information when processing a payment
  • A fuel pump's terminal has been compromised by a scammer and collects your card information when you buy fuel for your vehicle
  • A thief goes through the trash and finds an account statement or receipt that reveals a card number
  • You respond to a travel ad via phone for low-cost vacation. They make you join a travel club, requesting your card information, before you can qualify for the discount. You notice extra fees on your card and no vacation voucher ever arrives

Card fraud is so prevalent, but there are measures you can easily take to protect yourself. To prevent fraud, DO:

  • Always sign the back of you card when it arrives in the mail
  • Keep a record of your account numbers as well as where to report to if you have trouble. A great way to do this is to photocopy the front and back of every card and store it in a secure location.
  • Keep a close eye on your card when presenting it for transactions
  • Open your statements when you receive them to ensure all transactions are valid
  • Save receipts to compare to statements
  • Shred all statements and receipts when you're finished with them
  • Receive statements and pay online when possible


  • Leave receipts or cards lying around
  • Lend your card to anyone for any reason
  • Leave blank spaces or lines on a receipt (be sure to cross out or put "0" on each line that you want left blank)
  • Sign a blank receipt

Mail Fraud

Learn how to spot and avoid this fraudster favorite.

Mail fraud is nothing new, yet continues to claim victims. Mail Fraud typically utilizes the US Postal Service to facilitate the fraud request. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from mail fraud:

  • Don't leave mail in your mailbox for pick up. Take your mail to the Post Office or drop it off in one of the official US Post Office official collection boxes.
  • Install a locking mailbox or utilize a post office box
  • Carefully review all bank and credit card statements promptly when you receive them
  • Know your billing cycles and when statements should arrive. If you miss a regular delivery of a statement, look into it right away. The safest delivery of statements is electronically through Timberland's Online Banking Bill Pay system.
  • Never respond to a sweepstakes that requires you to send money or sensitive information in order to enter
  • Only submit funds to charities you are familiar with or know
  • Don't respond or send money to "get started" or to "deposit" toward an employment or work at home offer


This particular type of fraud is a combination of SMS text messaging and phishing.

Imagine the following scenario: You receive a text message or an automated phone call on your cell phone saying there's a problem with your bank account. You're given a phone number to call or a website to log into and you are asked to provide personal identifiable information (a bank account number, PIN, or credit card number) to fix the problem.

But beware: It could be a "smishing" or "vishing" scam... and criminals on the other end of the phone could be attempting to collect your personal information in order to help themselves to your money. While most cyber scams target your computer, smishing and vishing scams target your mobile phone, and they're a growing threat as a growing number of American's own mobile phones and enjoy the convenience of mobile banking.

"Smishing" is a combination of SMS texting and phishing. "Vishing," which can also target land lines, is a combination of voice and phishing. These are two of the scams the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is warning consumers about as mobile banking becomes more popular. These scams are a reminder that cyber-crimes aren't just for computers anymore.

Mobile Phone Scams

Remember: Treat your mobile phone like you would your computer.

Here are 5 simple tips to protect yourself from mobile phone and cyber scams:

  1. Do not respond to text messages or automated voice messages from blocked or unidentified callers.
  2. Treat your mobile phone like you would your computer. Don't download anything unless you trust the source.
  3. When buying online, use a legitimate payment service and always use a credit card because charges can be disputed if you don't receive what you ordered or you find unauthorized charges on your card.
  4. Check each seller's ratings and feedback along with the dates the feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100 percent positive feedback score, with a low number of feedback postings, or with all feedback posted around the same date.
  5. Don't respond to unsolicited emails, texts or phone calls requesting personal information. Never click on links or attachments contained within unsolicited emails. If you want to go to a merchant's website, type their URL directly into your browser's address bar.