The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul have issued a warning about a new scam that uses fake bank websites to target consumers’ personal information. Scammers create the websites to make them look like a legitimate bank website to convince consumers into thinking they’re entering their personal information to create a bank account. IDFPR has learned of the existence at least two such fraudulent websites.

“No one is immune from online scams, so it is critical that people protect their personal and financial information from thieves,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “Take a little extra time to confirm that you are doing business with a legitimate company, especially when you are sharing sensitive information for something like establishing a bank account.”

“No one in Illinois should think they’re utilizing a tool to help their financial standing, only to find they’ve put their personal information, and their hard-earned money, at risk,” said Chasse Rehwinkel, IDFPR Director of Banking. “As technology continues to evolve, so do the threats to financial well-being. We hope that consumers continue to remain diligent about such threats, and that banks assist us in helping keep them informed.”

The IDFPR recommends that anyone considering opening an account should contact their bank or credit union directly to do so. Financial institutions that learn of an imposter website are asked to notify IDFPR’s Division of Banking by emailing IL.Banks@illinois.gov. They should also place a notice on their website and in their branches to alert customers and consider contacting the imposter website’s domain name registrar to have it taken down. Banks that learn of an imposter website are also encouraged to consult with their legal and technology advisors to determine what other actions should be taken.

Attorney General Raoul encourages Illinois residents to protect their personal information online by doing the following:

Use trusted sites rather than going through a search engine. Be sure you enter website addresses accurately, as scammers take advantage of misspellings of popular websites. Scammers register variations of legitimate website domains to lure consumers to fake websites.

Watch out for websites with misspellings, sloppy grammar and poor design quality. These could be indications that a website is fraudulent.

Read reviews of unfamiliar businesses to find out from other users if the website could be a scam. Do an online search of a company’s name along with the words “scam” or “review” when visiting new websites.

Use a credit card to pay for online purchases so the transaction is protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Liability for fraudulent charges on credit cards is generally limited. Paying with a debit card or gift card may not offer many safeguards.

Use caution when entering personal information or downloading new software. Scammers can steal personal or financial information or install malware on your device that can result in identity theft.