AnchorBank: Phishing Scams: Consumers Taking the “Bait” More Than Ever

Date:    April 11th, 2006


Contact:             Gillian Harvie, Assoc. Public Relations Mgr.


Tel:                   (608) 252-8708


Madison, Wisc. – Every day the security department at AnchorBank’s headquarters receives a call from an unwitting customer conned into handing over their financial information in an email.  “Phishing” scams, as they are known, have become a common occurrence not only at AnchorBank but at every financial institution across the country and it’s showing no signs of slowing.  

Recent numbers indicate “phishing” activity increased by almost 30 percent from 2004 to 2005. It’s now gained the notoriety of becoming the fastest growing type of debit card fraud.

            AnchorBank’s Security Coordinator David Oldenburg said customers are typically shocked and upset when they find out phishing is such a common method of defrauding people.  “They’re surprised to find out that computer-savvy criminals


obtained their personal financial information from them so easily,” said Oldenburg. “It’s not difficult to see why people are fooled.  Although some phishing emails appear to be written poorly, many can be very professional looking.”

Oldenburg sees hundreds of the phishing emails at AnchorBank every year and said the emails are becoming more technically sophisticated and enticing than ever.  “Criminals will send out a mass email, claiming to be from a valid financial or eCommerce business often using a stolen logo,” said Oldenburg.  “They use fear tactics and narrow time frames to lure the victim into visiting a fake Web site.  Once the victims are on the site, they’re told to login to their account and enter sensitive financial information.”  Before the victim even realizes their mistake, the criminal can obtain their credit or debit card number, a PIN number, social security number or other sensitive information – and that’s when the fraudulent spending spree begins.

            “It’s really that easy,” said Oldenburg.  Despite the constant media buzz surrounding various phishing or other bogus solicitations, experts say those most likely to take the “phishing bait” are those who claim to be Web-savvy.   “Consumer confidence in online banking and other eCommerce sites has actually helped drive this scam,” said Oldenburg.  “People have become so used to handing over their debit card information for online purchases, they are taking fewer precautions.”  The lack of precautions not only costs consumers their own financial security, but it also costs financial institutions millions of dollars to cover the losses.

            Oldenburg said AnchorBank never sends unsolicited emails to its customers


requesting a PIN number, Social Security number or other personal information. “No matter how authentic it may look – it’s not from us,” said Oldenburg. “We would never ask for that information electronically.”

Here are some simple ways to protect consumers from becoming the next victim of a “phishing” scam:

·        Don’t open email from unknown sources

·        Never enter your PIN number online. If you are asked for it, the site is a scam.

·        Look for spelling and grammar errors (this often indicates a fake email or Web site)

·        Beware of “pop-ups” asking for a password or PIN

·        Never email personal or financial information

·        Review your credit card and bank account statements immediately upon receipt

If you believe you’ve been scammed, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.


Founded in 1919, AnchorBank is one of the state’s largest financial institutions with 59 full-service and two lending-only facilities located throughout Wisconsin. AnchorBank, fsb is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anchor BanCorp Wisconsin Inc. Anchor BanCorp’s stock is traded on the over-the-counter market under the NASDAQ symbol ABCW.