Atlantic Police Chief warns about ACH transaction e-mail virus


November 29th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green reports a large-scale cyber theft event is underway in the area and elsewhere that involves an e-mail virus, and targets mainly businesses and individuals who conduct a substantial amount of Automated Clearing House, or ACH, transactions from their computers. ACH is an electronic network for financial transactions, that processes large volumes of both credit and debit transactions which are originated in batches. ACH credit transfers include direct-deposit payroll payments and payments to contractors and vendors. ACH debit transfers include consumer payments on insurance premiums, mortgage loans, and other kinds of bills. Businesses are also increasingly using ACH to collect from customers online, rather than accepting credit or debit cards.

Green would not offer specifics on which businesses have been affected by the ACH scam, but there are some victims here in Atlantic. He says there is one definite victim and one that was in progress, but hopefully was stopped before any funds were lost. The Chief says another suspect e-mail claims to be from the IRS. The e-mails serve as a way for thieves to access routing numbers in your computer and allow the cyber-thieves to re-route the ACH transactions. He says people should remember some rules about how the IRS conducts business. He says the IRS will NEVER contact you by e-mail unless they are responding to your specific e-mail inquiry. Even then he says, they will more often than not call you directly. He says if you get an e-mail from the IRS, “It’s bogus.”

Green recommends e-mails not be opened on any computer that is also tasked with ACH transactions, unless they are from a well known source. But the main thing to remember, is to be on guard at all times against cyber-crime. He says be especially suspicious of forwarded e-mails that may contain a virus, unknown to the sender. Green suggests making sure you have the latest anti-virus protection on your computer, and use common sense with regard to e-mails. He says if you or your business receives suspect e-mails, don’t forward them to anyone, not even the police department. He says you should delete the e-mails, and then clean-out your deleted files folder.

Green says these are not new threats, but ones which have resurfaced in great numbers, and appear to be Eastern European, in origin. All businesses and persons who make substantial ACH transactions should review their e-mail procedures on any system connected to the financial computer. Green says the U-S literally loses hundreds of millions of dollars every day to computer scams and identity theft.