The following websites provide further information for consumers:
How to Minimize Risk
Before revealing any personal identification information, find out how it will be used and whether it will be shared with others. Don’t divulge unnecessary information.
Other protections include the following:
- Pay attention to billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if bills do not arrive on time.
- Deposit outgoing mail at the post office.
- Limit identifying information and credit cards carried to those necessary.
- Do not give out personal information to undisclosed sources via phone, mail or over the internet.
- You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from each credit reporting agency, but you must go through the Federal Trade Commission’s website at annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228.
If You Become a Victim of Identity Theft
If you suspect that someone has been using your personal information, you should contact the following:
- The fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax
- Your bank
- The creditors of any accounts that have been misused
- The local police to file a report
In addition, you should cancel/close existing accounts held in your name and open new accounts with new passwords.
Protect Yourself Against Phishing
Phishing has become a common internet threat literally “fishes” for your personal information through bogus emails and websites. Phishing is internet piracy that seeks to obtain account numbers, passwords, Social Security information and other confidential information in order to loot your checking account or charge items on your credit cards.
How Phishing Works
You might receive an email that seems to come from a respected business, even one you have a relationship with, or a government agency. The email typically warns of a problem that you must attend to immediately using words like “Immediate Attention Required” or “Contact Us Immediately.”
In most phishing scams, clicking on the link in the email will redirect you to a fraudulent website where you are asked to enter or “verify” your financial information. If you provide your information, the scammers steal it, and you may find yourself a victim of fraud.
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, either by email or phone call.
- If you are not sure about the caller or email sender, contact your financial institution directly.
- Never provide critical information over the phone or in response to an unsolicited internet request.
- Double-check your account statements. Always balance your accounts to your records when you receive your statements.
- Do not be intimidated by scammers’ threats.
- If you think you are the victim of a fraud, contact your financial institution immediately so that fraud alerts can be placed on your credit file.
- Report suspicious emails or phone calls to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.
Protect Your Computer and Information
Worms, viruses and spyware that appear on the internet and bring a variety of problems to unsuspecting users. Some have the capability to install software on an end-user’s computer with the intent of collecting internet banking or financial data and communicating the data back to the attacker.
A financial institution or a service provider cannot prevent scammers from sending these items programs and infecting people’s computers. What we can do, however, is ensure that our systems are virus-free, properly patched and that our users are knowledgeable about the risks.
The following are tips to help protect your computer and information:
- Keep antivirus software current on all computers you use, especially those from which you conduct financial transactions over the internet.
- Keep your computer’s software updated with the latest patches, especially computers you use to conduct financial transactions over the internet.
- Protect your computer with a personal firewall and antispyware software from a vendor you know and trust.
- Do not open emails or attachments from people or companies you don’t know, as these are often the sources of virus and worm infections.
- When conducting online transactions, ensure that you are using a secure connection. Visual markers to indicate a secure connection include the following:
- “https://” in the address line of your browser
- A padlock icon in the browser bar, to the left of the web address (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge)
You can also view the security levels provided on any page by going to File > Properties in the menu bar.
- Never reveal your password to another person, and change your password periodically. Avoid using passwords such as birthdates, first names, pet names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, etc.
- Always sign off (log out) of a website when completing a secure online session.
For more tips on protecting your computer and personal information, visit the following websites: