As we mentioned a few weeks ago, scammers are always out on the lookout to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. As one of the more prominent brands in the mortgage business, we have certainly seen our share of stories from customers who have been targeted by those with less-than-pure intentions.
One such story came to us here on the blog. A customer received an e-mail stating her account had been suspended because "it may have been used by a third party." In order to get it re-activated, all she had to do was click on a link that brought up a web page, and input her personal information in the spaces provided to "confirm" her identity (something we never require).
Luckily, this customer recognized some key red flags in the request: Her name and account number were not present in the communication; None of the contact buttons worked; and there had been no additional contact via phone or letter to confirm the issue.
If you should receive a similar e-mail, there are three key steps you should take:
1. Do not click on the link in an e-mail. There is a good chance it is a virus, worm or contains a key logging tracker.
2. If you've received one of these e-mails, please forward it to email@example.com. These scams can continually evolve, and even slight variations like differences in the embedded links will aide our investigations.
3. Once you have forwarded the email to firstname.lastname@example.org, delete it from your inbox, then delete from your deleted items folder.
The second instance that has come to our attention lately came from a blog entry where the author received a letter in the mail, claiming the Citi Homeowner Assistance Program is reaching out to a select group of consumers, that they were selected, and that they should call an 800 number (provided in the letter) to take advantage and lower their monthly payments.
Again, we are happy to report this customer in question was vigilant and skeptical. In very small print at the bottom, he noticed the line, "This information was obtained through public records. We are not an affiliate of, not endorsed by, nor associated with Citi Mortgage Co., or any government agency."
Nowhere in the letter did the company identify themselves, and the 800 number provided in the letter only produced a generic answering machine message. This was clearly a case of a company attempting to miss-lead the consumer into believing they were receiving this message from CitiMortgage.
With that in mind, here are a few key things to look for in any correspondence from Citi: Both our global letter stationery and our current stationery have the following:
- Citi logo (may or may not be in color)
- CitiMortgage logo (usually printed in black and white)
- Citi disclaimers at the bottom of the letter
- Return address
Of course somebody who really wants to trick you could include that information as well, and so you should still always remain vigilant, but knowing to look out for those key pieces of information should help you avoid falling for letters like the one mentioned above.
If you don't recognize a transaction on your account or suspect fraudulent activity, please call 1-800-283-7918. The few minutes are well worth the effort when contrasted with the potential long-term damage caused by an identity theft that isn't promptly identified and eliminated.