Home Network Security and Protecting Against Internet Scams

Recently, one of the nation’s leading banks, Wells Fargo, was fined $185 million by federal regulators for opening fraudulent bank accounts, credit and debit cards in their customer’s name without their permission. At least 5,300 Wells Fargo participated in a scheme that involved enrolling their customers in banking services using fake personal identification numbers and phony email addresses. The employees would then transfer funds from the legitimate bank accounts in order to temporarily fund the new, unauthorized accounts. This siphoning of funds would registered as an account imbalance where Wells Fargo would then charge customers for insufficient funds or apply overdraft fees. In a statement issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Wells Fargo employees “chased compensation incentives” by “secretly opening unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses”. In addition to the multi-million dollar fine, Wells Fargo has also been order to pay restitution to its customers in the form of refunds to the tune of $2.5 million.

While this is troubling news for Wells Fargo customers, it raises grave concerns for the millions of other consumers at leading commercial banks. Consumers are now inquiring about ways to protect themselves against what can only be deemed as internal consumer fraud. Since these were internal actions conducted by bank employees on phony accounts, it’s unlikely that typical protective measures, such as credit card fraud alerts, would have caught such fraudulent activity. Thus, the only “alert” Wells Fargo consumers had to warn them of the fraud in this case were questionable transactions on their monthly bank and/or credit card statements. Unfortunately, by the time statements reached customer mailboxes, Wells Fargo had already bilked them out of millions!

So, what should consumers take-away from this unfortunate situation? As mentioned in an earlier blog post on how to Protect Yourself Against ID Theft and Online Scams, you should always review your monthly bank and credit card statements and question any suspicious activity you may find, i.e., an unusual purchase at a retail store where you seldom shop, an out-of-state purchase or a charged item out of your normal price range. Such suspicious financial transactions or rapid depletion of your bank account could have acted as red flags and signaled Wells Fargo customers of unauthorized financial activity long before things got too far out of hand. Of course, one other thing Wells Fargo customers could have looked for were questionable or excessive overdraft fees which were the primary signs they had to warn them something was amiss with their bank accounts.

For more tips on how you can protect yourself from ID theft and make your Internet browsing experience virtually scam proof, download a copy of my latest eBook, “Home Network Security and Protecting Against Internet Scams”.

Zebert L. Brown

Zebert L. Brown is the author of Break the Debt Cycle in 3 Simple Steps and a 16 year Navy veteran with specialties in administrative management, career development and public relations. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Hello, Blogosphere!

LeeHeadShot4  I’ve wanted to say that for a long time and I’m happy that day has finally arrived. Since this is my introductory blog post, it’s only fitting that I provide a little background as to why I’m so excited to be starting my blog.

After the U.S. economy took a nose dive in 2008, I began to pay close attention to what was happening to the personal economies of hard working people such as yourself all across the country. I would read the headlines and follow story after story of families whose lives had been turned upside down mainly because a father or a mother – or sometimes both – lost their job and eventually their home because the main source of income was gone and their savings dried up. As sad as such stories were, I realized there was little I could do to help these people in their immediate situation. Even if some of them did managed to find new jobs, they’d still have their unpaid debts to deal with.  I mean, when was the last time you had a debt collector graciously wipe your slate clean? It just doesn’t happen. Still, I was left wondering how could I help?

As I kept abreast of the storylines involving home foreclosures, rising health care costs, rising student loan debt, income inequality, low-savings rates and dwindling retirement accounts by Average Joe’s like you and me, I decided to start digging deeper into these types of issues. At first it was to protect my own self interest – I didn’t want any of those things to suddenly happen to me if I could help it. But then it occurred to me!  With all the information I had gathered and the experience I’d gained keeping my own household afloat throughout the Great Recession, I could write a book based on the lessons I’d learned in personal financial management.

The title of my book is “Break the Debt Cycle in 3 Simple Steps”.  I wrote it specifically for individuals who are struggling with debt and want to learn how to take control of their personal economy, eliminate debt and start building lasting wealth. And that is what brings me to your computer screen today.

Although there are several books and countless blogs on the subject of personal finance, one thing I’ve noticed is that most give the same cookie cutter advice. I try to go beyond the debt cycle and provide information you can use to save money, protect your assets and get started in investing. That’s the level of content I plan to bring to my blog aptly named, “Beyond the Debt Cycle”.

So, I hope you’ll stay tuned for my weekly blog posts and help to make this an environment where good advice and shared experiences can make a difference in the lives of ordinary people just like you. Together, let’s get more hard working Americans to break the cycle of debt and then go beyond.

See you next week.