Conducting Your Transactions Online

Tips to Prevent Identity Theft:

  • Stay on top of monitoring your identity, you are entitled to one free credit report a year.  Use your credit report to check if anything seems suspicious, like an account you didn’t open or a debt that’s not yours.
  • Beware of any organization that offers free credit bureau reports, most require a monetary membership.
  • You should never provide or confirm personal information, such as card numbers, social security numbers, information on the card, or your PIN, unless you know who you are dealing with or you started the contract.
  • Watch you bank account closely and know your billing cycles.  If you know you have bill due and you haven’t seen the bill, call the issuer to investigate.
  • Take advantage of home banking services, like online bill pay and online banking.  By using these services, you can avoid sensitive information left in your mailbox.
  • Don’t carry Social Security cards with you.
  • Don’t leave sensitive documents out in the open.
  • Shred sensitive materials before disposal.
  • Sign the back of your debit and credit card(s).
  • Don’t let anyone swipe your card twice without giving you a transaction cancelled receipt for the first transaction.

Steps to take after Identity Theft Occurs:

  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
    • When you place an alert on your credit, this will prevent any other accounts from being opened.
    • You can request a report to see if any charges seem suspicious.
  • Close the accounts you think could be affected.
    • Contact someone in the fraud or security department of your financial institution.
    • Follow up in writing with copies of any supporting documents.
    • If nay debits exist on your accounts, or a new account has been opened, ask the financial institution for the correct paperwork to dispute them.
  • File a complain the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    • When you file with the FTC, you are providing information to help law enforcement officials track down the thieves.
  • File a report with the local police department.
    • Filing a report, along with a complaint to the FTC, can give you certain protections to ensure your identity can be protected and restored.

Important Numbers and Web Sites:

Safe Online Banking

When you travel the Internet to access online banking, you want to be assured, first and foremost, that effective safeguards are in place to make your visit safe, secure, and reliable.  When you use online banking to visit your bank, whether it’s to learn about rates, to review your accounts or to pay your bills, you are entering a secure area.  Measures they take include one or more the following:

  • Password Protection & Pin – Your password and PIN (personal identification number) are the first line of defense, and are unique identifier.  Be sure not to share them with anyone – most frauds involving hijacked accounts originate with someone the victim knows.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication – This from of identity verification provides added security by requiring multiple forms of identification, such as something you know (password or PIN) and something you have (ATM card, smart card.)
  • Encryption – Once online with your bank, your transactions and personal information are secured by encryption software that converts the information into code that is readable by only you and your bank.
  • Privacy Policies – Bank privacy policies protecting your personal information are stringent.  Your confidential information is treated with the utmost care, meeting or exceeding federal and state mandates.

Using Online Banking
Whether you are conducting online financial transactions over the Internet or simply “surfing,” some easily implement precautions can help safeguard your personal information and account fraud:

  • Passwords – Security begins with a strong password, which only you the user, knows.  Experts advise a combination of letters and numbers, and advise against using easily guessed passwords such as birthdays or home addresses.
  • Anti-Virus Protection – Make sure the anti-virus software on your computer is current and scans your email as it is received.  This simple step is critical to your personal safety and security when online.
  • Email Communication – Email is generally not encrypted so be wary of sending any sensitive information such as account numbers or other personal information in this way.  If you receive an unscheduled or unsolicited email purporting to be from your bank be cautious – take the time to call your bank and make sure the mail was sent from your banker.
  • Signing Off – Always log off by following the bank’s secured area exit procedures to ensure the protection of your personal information.
  • Be Aware – Crooks are trying to get your personal information – and they employee some ingenious methods.  Don’t respond to any unusual request for personal information – when you opened your bank accounts you already gave it.  When in doubt, call your bank.

Online Threats
Most electronic fraud falls into one of the three categories.  Experts advise: understand these to understand how best to protect yourself.

  • Phishing – Fraudulent emails purporting to be from your bank or a similar trust source lures you to a copy cat website (one that may look just like your bank’s site).  Once there you are instructed to “verify” certain personal information, which is then used to hijack your accounts and your identity.  IF you receive a suspicious email, delete the message and call your bank to inform them of the email.
  • Pharming – Also called “domain spoofing,” this cyber crime intercepts Internet traffic and re-routes it to a fraudulent site.  Once there, the victim is asked to enter personal information just as with Phishing.
  • Malware – This is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owners’ knowledge.  Examples of malware (malicious software) include computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware.

Learning More
Drop by your bank today to learn more about online banking and the security measures that are in place for your protection.  Or contact any of these financial industry regulators.

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