Identity theft continues to cost consumers and businesses billions of dollars every year. More than ever, the Internet is a very dangerous place if you do not have up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer, and pay close attention to the sites you visit.
Many computer users know there is a threat out there, but believe it could never happen to them. Links forwarded by our friends that we think are safe often times contain malware – an unnoticeable application that collects data about you and/or puts a virus on your computer. In addition to infected websites, social networking sites also carry a risk of malware or spyware being placed on your computer via links posted by other users. Many companies have drafted Acceptable Use Policies to set guidelines for employees that outline the risks and expected behavior when “surfing the web”.
Many folks shop from their homes today, and such purchases also carry a risk of identity theft. Here are some things to remember:
- Make sure your computer and browser are secure. Set your firewall, anti-spyware and anti-virus software to automatically update and scan your computer.
- Don’t create passwords that include easily accessible personal information, such as mother’s maiden name or date of birth. Instead, use something unique that only you know.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you know whom you’re dealing with, and preferably only if you’ve initiated the contact. Never give out Social Security or driver’s license numbers. If you must share personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization.
- If you receive an email asking for personal information, do not hit the reply button or click on any link in the email. Instead, go directly to the sender’s site by typing in its website address.
- Look for secure sites with an “s” in the URL (https://) and a closed-padlock icon on the Web page when making purchases. These websites are secure.
- Always double-check the URL to be sure you are shopping with the company you intended to shop with. A simple typo can help identity thieves.
You may wish to explore the benefits of an identity theft and credit fraud monitoring service. In addition, there are many Internet sites that provide a host of protection ideas and information on fraud and scams. The Federal Trade Commission suggests a three-part defense to avoid ID theft: 1. Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information. 2. Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements. 3. Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it. Details of the FTC’s Avoid ID Theft program, as well as additional information, are available at their website – ftc.gov/idtheft.
The most important thing is our customers’ safety and financial security, and we take these issues very seriously. If you believe that you may have a situation that involves the possible breach of your deposit or loan accounts with us, please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.