Online thieves are increasingly gaining access to personal information and committing financial fraud. Sometimes this involves a security breach similar to what recently happened at Home Depot, but other times it includes scams on a much smaller scale.
Community Bank wants to be sure you remain vigilant about protecting your finances, so here are 10 things you can do to help protect yourself:
1. Know that offers that seem “too good to be true” are probably a fraud. Crooks often pose as businesses promising high interest rates, high-paying jobs or other “opportunities,” such as lottery winnings for which you must pay taxes or other charges upfront. Never pay money upfront for the promise of a larger prize, this is always a scam.
2. Guard against scams involving fraudulent checks. A stranger or unfamiliar company might send you a check for more than you are due for an online sale and ask you to deposit the check and wire back the difference. In this case, scammers quickly remove the money from your account, and all you are left with is a counterfeit check.
3. Be suspicious about unsolicited emails or text messages asking you to click on a link or open an attachment. Crooks are known to distribute and install malicious software (malware) that can capture passwords and PIN numbers. This information could be used to gain access to your online banking sites.
4. Don’t give out personal information to anyone unless you initiate contact. Crooks pretending to be from legitimate companies or government agencies often contact people asking them to confirm or update confidential information. This is a scam. Banks, credit card issuers and government agencies will never contact you asking for personal details such as Social Security numbers and passwords.
5. Carefully choose user IDs and passwords for your computers, mobile devices, and online accounts. Be sure to create strong IDs and passwords with a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols that are hard to guess. Also change your password regularly.
6. Be careful when using social networking sites. Scammers use social networking sites to gather details about individuals, such as their date of birth, their mother’s maiden name, and other information that can help them figure out passwords. Don’t share your page with anyone you don’t know and trust.
7. Regularly review your transaction history. Be sure to review bank statements and credit card bills. Also be sure to monitor your accounts using online and mobile banking. If you find unauthorized activity or an unfamiliar charge, immediately contact your financial institution.
8. Periodically review your credit reports. Ask for a free copy from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. To order a free report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
9. Protect your financial documents. Keep bank statements, tax returns and blank checks in a secure place. Also, shred sensitive documents instead of throwing them in the trash.
10. Guard your incoming and outgoing mail. From time to time, your mailbox may contain credit card statements, bank statements or other documents with confidential information. For incoming mail, try to use a locked mailbox or a mailbox in a secure location.
Community Bank is committed to your financial security. If you have questions, stop in or give us a call at 708.660.1000.