The saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This holds true for protecting yourself from fraud. There are many little things that you as a consumer can do to protect your identity and your credit. Being aware of the scams and latest methods criminals are using to gain confidential information is your greatest tool.
Types of Fraud:
Our computers can be the most vulnerable point in our defense against fraud. Cyber-criminals are increasingly clever in their attempts to swindle and are relentless in their pursuit. Social Engineering is a term used to describe ways used to manipulate people into divulging personal and confidential information. Email scams (phishing) are one of the most prominent forms of social engineering.
Phishing: Never open email from a sender you are not familiar with. Emails containing malicious software or containing a link to an infected website is extremely common. And many times they use wording designed to persuade you that it is legitimate. Emails purporting to be from your financial institution and needing you to click on a link to verify personal information is a great example of a phishing scam. It is very easy to fake an email address, making it seem the email is from legitimate financial institutions, shipping companies, and even government entities. A legitimate organization will never ask you to send confidential information via email.
Install and keep up to date antivirus software. Many antivirus packages also protect against spyware, malware, Trojan horses, and many other types of threats. For computers that are used for online banking, and other financial transactions there is no such thing as too much security.
Keep all software including the operating system and programs updated and patched. Many software companies release security updates on a schedule, and will indicate the severity of the threat being patched.
Once cyber-criminals gain access to your computer, any information you entered can be obtained. This may include email addresses, bank and credit card numbers, social security numbers and passwords. Keyloggers are a way for criminals to see what you are typing on your keyboard. This is how passwords can be obtained.
Smishing: using text messages on mobile phones to lure consumers into divulging personal information.
Dumpster Diving: The act of retrieving confidential information from someone’s trash. Criminals are not above rummaging through trash and if you do not shred your mail including junk mail before tossing it you could be putting yourself at risk of having confidential information stolen. Credit card applications are a good example of junk mail that criminals look for.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself:
Monitor your credit report on a regular basis. If you feel you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact all three credit bureaus immediately.
Monitor your bank accounts for any fraudulent activity, including debit cards.
Use a separate email for newsletters, subscriptions, etc. and for your personal business.
Keep your passwords and PIN’s safe. Committing them to memory instead of writing them down is the most secure. Don’t use birthdays, last names, pet names, or anything easy to guess for a password.
Secure your personal items at work and the gym, or anywhere else they might be unattended but easily accessed.
If you have any questions or concerns about your accounts with Patriots Bank, contact us at 816-792-1114 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on these and other ways to protect against Identity Theft visit the Federal Trade Commission at www. ftc.gov/idtheft
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