Fast Facts: Recent Cyber Attacks

The Financial Services Roundtable released its 2012 Fast Facts Book in September, which contains Fast Facts from January 2012 through July 2012. We shared  information on preventing financial exploitation of of the elderly in a recent post. Below are some updated Fast Facts on recent cyber attacks.

FACT:  Since late September 2012, large financial institutions have been the subject of (or threatened to be the subject of) attacks intended to disrupt the availability of their Web sites.  A group that calls itself the Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-din Al Qassam has claimed credit for these attacks.

FACT:  The attacks have flooded certain bank Web sites with an extremely high volume of electronic traffic from thousands of locations around the world.  This flood of traffic, called “a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack,” is intended to slow down or disable the bank’s Web site.

FACT:  The attacks are not designed to be – and have not resulted in – a data breach, hacking, or unauthorized access to consumer information.

  • Consumers can access their accounts through alternative means, including bank branch offices and call centers.

FACT:  The financial services industry has robust cyber protections in place.

  • Banks collaborate with other banks, federal regulators such as Treasury, law enforcement officials, other government agencies such as the FBI and DHS, Internet Service Providers, and Internet security experts to fully analyze and deflect online attacks and deliver safe and consistent online service.
  • Financial services institutions use sophisticated online security strategies to protect customer accounts and continue to invest in technology to increase capacity and defend against potential attacks.
  • Financial services institutions are regularly examined by their primary federal regulator to ensure their compliance with cybersecurity regulations and information standards, including standards set in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and FFIEC Information Technology Examination Handbooks.
  • Financial services institutions collaborate with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) which is an industry forum for collaboration on critical security threats facing the financial services sector.

FACT:  While there is nothing in particular that customers can do in response to the DDoS attacks, consumers can improve the general security of their private information by using the following tips:

  • Install on your computer—and keep updated—anti-virus software, firewall and anti-spyware software.
  • Set your computer’s operating system and browser to “automatic download” to ensure your operating system and browser include the latest security updates.
  • Don’t get hooked by phishing.  Do not respond to unsolicited emails requesting personal information and do not download attachments on unsolicited emails.
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly.  The best passwords are long—a minimum of 8 characters—and complex. Not your birthday or the name of a child or pet.  Use a combination of numbers, symbols and letter; something meaningful to you like an acronym or batting averages, but not easily guessed.

For additional resources and examples of member programs, visithttp://www.fsround.org/fsr/financial_literacy/financial_literacy_corner.asp.

Preventing Financial Exploitation Of The Elderly

The Financial Services Roundtable released its 2012 Fast Facts Book in September, which contains Fast Facts from January 2012 through July 2012. Fast Facts provides reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Below are a section of Fast Facts on preventing financial exploitation of the elderly.

By 2030, seniors will make up over one-sixth of the U.S. population. As our population grows older, it is essential to educate people about how to protect themselves from financial exploitation.

FACT: The annual financial loss for victims of elder abuse is around $2.9 billion, which is a 12% increase from 2008, according to a 2011 MetLife study of Elder Financial Abuse.

FACT: The elderly are a target for financial abuse because they may be more likely to depend on others for help, have predictable patterns, and have little understanding of modern management of finances. Additionally, they often have accumulated savings. Persons over the age of 50 control over 70% of the nation’s wealth, according to one survey.

FACT: Men and women of any race, economic level, or health status can become victims of elder financial abuse.

  • Women are twice as likely to become victims
  • Most victims are between the ages of 80 and 89
  • Most victims live alone and require help with health issues and home maintenance

FACT: The most common perpetrators of financial abuse are family members, who commit nearly 75% of crimes.

FACT: Signs of exploitation of the elderly include: unpaid bills, changes in banks or attorneys, changes in spending patterns, missing property, unfamiliar signatures, and a lack of personal amenities.

FACT: Many Roundtable member companies are coordinating to protect elderly customers from financial abuse. Examples include:

  • Capital One has partnered with the Consumer Action advocacy group to create MoneyWi$e. MoneyWi$e is a national personal financial education program offering free materials and community-based training opportunities on various topics including elder fraud, identity theft, and money management. In Canada, Capitol One partnered with SeniorBusters to raise awareness about the prevalence of elder abuse and fraud.
  • City National Bank has published various materials regarding elder abuse. Such materials include a facts bulletin regarding the actions and consequences of elder abuse, examples of common identity theft methods, and what to look for when elder financial abuse is suspected.
  • Comerica Bank provides publications on how to be aware of the signs of abuse and how the bank can help. They make an effort to partner with law enforcement to conduct community seminars open to all regarding various fraud topics. They have also created county taskforces to address the issues of elder abuse to provide a response plan for elder abuse and develop a network of contacts for the members.
  • Fifth Third Bank conducts a program which informs and offers protection from elder financial abuse. Fifth Third works regularly to protect assets, prevent losses, and safeguard information through customer interaction. By getting to know their customers, they are able to watch out for unusual activities. They also pay close attention when seniors come into a banking center for service by observing if they have someone with them, noticing if they seem uneasy, and noting if the transaction is unusual in nature. They will then take immediate action to safeguard the customer.
  • First Horizon is kicking off a program to prevent identity theft in their headquarters city of Memphis. In partnership with the Memphis Police Department, County Sheriff’s Office, and the District Attorney General’s Office, employees will make presentations at retirement communities and other groups regarding how to protect their finances. These presentations will also be made free to any organization interested in identity theft prevention.
  • Regions Financial is providing communication and instructor led training to all associates focusing on elder financial abuse prevention. By September 30, 2012, every Regions associate will complete training on how to prevent, detect and report elder financial abuse. Regions has a long standing commitment to elder protection efforts. Since 2003, Regions has invested in the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect vulnerable seniors in housing facilities in various locations across our footprint and to provide ongoing crime prevention programs for senior housing residents.
  • The Principal Financial Group has provided grants to support WesleyLife Community Services’ Money Management program since 2007. This no-cost program promotes independent living for low to moderate income older adults and persons with disabilities who are at risk of victimization because they cannot manage their own finances. WLCS-Money Management program curriculum was designed by AARP which provides training, evaluation and technical support. Nationally, this program helped 6,000 adults in 2010 with a 98% satisfaction with service rate.
  • Wells Fargo has developed training and informational content for distribution. This includes periodic articles which are distributed via internal channels. Additionally, their Regulatory Affairs group has coordinated and hosted regional Elder Financial Abuse Symposiums in various cities around the country. This group will also conduct ongoing meetings with regulars such as FINRA, SEC and State, and is in regular contact with State APS.

For additional resources and examples of member programs, visit http://www.fsround.org/fsr/financial_literacy/financial_literacy_corner.asp.

BITS: Prepaid Access Cards: Overview And Emerging Risks

BITS, the technology policy division of The Financial Services Roundtable, recently released its Prepaid Access Card White Paper. Below is the executive summary. To read the full paper, visit BITS.

Executive Summary:

As financial institutions look for new ways to serve customers, prepaid access cards are an emerging market. Estimates of card load volume range from $116 billion to $350 billion in 2012. The National Foundation for Consumer Credit Counseling (NFCC) 2012 Financial Literacy study revealed that 13%, or about 30.5 million Americans, use prepaid debit cards to pay for everyday transactions such as groceries, gas, dining out, paying bills and shopping online.

The evolving prepaid access card market brings with it new risks and challenges. Through BITS, the technology policy division of The Financial Services Roundtable, financial institution fraud risk management experts developed this overview of the prepaid access card market. This paper provides an overview of the different types and uses of prepaid access cards, regulations and consumer protections, risks, evolving criminal use, investigative challenges and “red flags” to assist law enforcement, financial crimes investigators, financial institutions and industry stakeholders to address fraud risks.

Continue reading here.

© BITS/The Financial Services Roundtable 2012. All Rights Reserved.