The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 12, 2013

Cops: $1,684 car payment a ripoff

Valley woman swiped check info, troopers say

WATSONTOWN — A Watsontown woman faces identity theft and related charges after she took routing and account information from a New Columbia resident’s personal check, then used the information to make a car payment, state police at Milton allege.

According to police, Peggy Sue Netzband, 48, took down the check information that had been made out to a Union County business where Netzband was employed and then made a phone payment of $1,684.83 on her vehicle.

While most of the identify theft cases surfacing these days involve debit/credit cards, people are reminded that information on paper checks can also be stolen.

“It can happen,” agreed Debbie Runton, administrative assistant at the main office of Northumberland National Bank. The best defense is to regularly check your bank balance.

However, “You’d be surprised at how many people don’t,” Runton said.

There’s no reason to wait for a monthly bank statement, though many people still get that document by mail and then throw it away without looking at it. Online banking is easy and customers can check their accounts whenever they choose. If you are unsure about how to sign up for an electronic account, talk to a bank representative.

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Because so many scams involve people’s bank accounts in one way or another, financial institutions are well aware of the ways people can be scammed and are stepping up measures to try to protect their customers from becoming victims.

Northumberland National Bank is no exception. The bank is in the middle of a campaign it hopes will reduce the chances of identify theft and fraud — posting prominent posters and messages on the television screens in the lobbies and having tellers armed with handouts listing some of the more common scams.

One poster, provided by the FBI and posted in every branch office, provides a list of questions. Check it out — if you answer “yes” to any of the questions, you could be involved in a fraud or about to be scammed.

A sample question: “Did you respond to an email requesting you to confirm, update or provide account information?”

The handouts also remind customers that:

“Counterfeit checks are a growing problem. To make matters worse, you can’t always tell a check is counterfeit just by looking at it. If you cash or deposit a counterfeit check, it is your responsibility to repay that money to the bank. If we ask you about a check you’re presenting, we are only trying to prevent you from becoming a victim of scammers.”

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