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Scams, Fraud, and Identity Theft

Email Scams

Independent Bank will never send an email requiring you to verify your account information via email. If you receive an email posing as Independent Bank asking for this information, DO NOT reply. Please forward these emails to: customersecure@ibcp.com for investigation.

What to watch for

  • Poor spelling and poor grammar are often indicators of a fraudulent email solicitation.
  • Any request to submit your account information or personal identification information, such as a Social Security number, indicates potential fraud.
  • Scams that use unemployment, financial stress, and social engineering are listed in the FBI scam alert.

Protect your checking account

The Federal Reserve Board has developed five tips for protecting your checking account. To view the tips, visit the Federal Reserve website.

Foreclosure Scams

Federal Reserve Board has compiled helpful tips to help protect consumers from foreclosure scams.

International Lottery Scams

Scam operators use telephone, direct mail and email to entice U.S. consumers to buy chances in high-stakes foreign lotteries. These lottery solicitations, which can come from all over the world, violate U.S. law and cost consumers more than $120 million each year. To read what the Federal Trade Commission says about international lottery scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.

Advance Fee Scams

Claiming to be a foreign official, business person, the surviving spouse of a former government official, or a person wronged by political oppression, con artists may offer to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account in exchange for a fee. Typically, the victim is asked to provide bank account numbers, as well as money to cover transaction, transfer costs, and legal fees.

Variations of this scam are also used on internet auction, internet classified, and job websites.

Identity Theft Scams

Identity theft affects over 11 million people every year. One identity theft typically takes 165 hours to restore (ITRC), and each year there are roughly $54 billion in total losses as a result (Javelin Strategy & Research). Identity theft is when someone, without your permission, uses any of your personal information (credit card, SSN, address, etc.) to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft costs millions of Americans time and money every year, and we want to help you avoid being one of them.

Learn About Identity Theft Protection

Fake check scams

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has initiated an awareness campaign aimed at reducing the number of victims of the “fake check scam.” In this scam, an unknowing victim receives a check to deposit in their account and is asked to wire money to an overseas account. The wired funds leave the account before the check is discovered to be a forgery. Learn more about this scam and how to protect yourself at the Fake Checks website.


Attempts are made by unknown criminals to solicit information in an effort to illegally obtain personal data. The email and website address may appear identical to those of legitimate financial institutions and other companies. These websites, however, are fraudulent.

The phony emails, pop-ups, or websites ask for confidential information such as Social Security number, date of birth, or credit, ATM, or debit card number(s) and their related Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). The intent of these fraudulent sites is to obtain information illegally to access consumer accounts and/or commit identity theft. Get more information on fighting identity theft from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency by downloading the Phishing Brochure.

Internet Banking Threats

Malicious computer programs may be hidden on internet sites, within emails, electronic greeting cards, or in programs downloaded through the Internet. Once on an individual’s computer, the program goes to work determining what banking sites you conduct business with, obtaining online banking log-on and passwords, or stealing debit/credit card numbers and PINs. If the information is provided, the fraudster can gain access to your online banking account, use your debit/credit card to make purchases, or even steal your identity.

Password Security

You can never be too careful with your passwords. We want your information to stay as secure as possible, so please use the following tips to help keep your accounts safe.

  • Don’t write down your passwords
  • Don’t use plain words for passwords
  • Don’t use personal information as passwords
  • Consider using computer-generated passwords that consist of random strings of letters and numbers
  • Don’t reuse a password; select a new one for each account
  • Never tell someone your password over the phone
  • Change your passwords periodically, every few weeks or so
  • Make passwords sufficiently long so that they will be difficult to crack

Avoid using identifying information that is readily available, such as:

  • The name of the street you live on
  • Your user ID (not easily discovered but to be avoided anyhow)
  • The model of the car you drive
  • The numbers in your date of birth
  • The name of your institution
  • Your first or last name
Phone Calls

Don’t provide personal information, account data, or card numbers to unknown callers. When in doubt, call us at 888.300.3193 to verify. Several different scams occur via phone calls. The callers are very good at convincing you they're from your bank and can easily persuade individuals to give them personal and/or banking information. Don’t rely on caller ID as this can be altered with today’s technology. The caller may ask to verify some information they have in an attempt to gain further personal or bank information. The caller may indicate your card or account has been cancelled and they need your information to reinstate it. The caller may indicate that they have your bank or personal information and for a fee can keep it from being shared. The caller may offer to remove your personal or bank information from the Internet for a fee. These calls may be made by a person or an automated recorded message. For more information on phone scams, visit the FTC’s educational website.

Securing your computer
  • Always use the latest version of your Internet browser
  • Use a current spam filter
  • Use up-to-date firewalls and anti-virus software
  • Run multiple anti-spyware software at least weekly
  • Save known addresses to your safe senders list so legitimate messages are delivered
  • Don’t post your email address on public sites
  • Please report any unusual or suspicious emails involving Independent Bank to customersecure@ibcp.com

More information about fraud and scams is available from the following sources:

If you receive an offer via email from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of a foreign country, forward it to the FTC at spam@uce.gov.