Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
The best protection against identity theft is to carefully guard your personal information. For example:
- Do not share personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you initiated the contact or know the person you are dealing with.
- Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly online and asks for your personal information. It doesn’t matter how legitimate the email or website may look. Only open emails from people or organizations you know and, even then, be cautious if they look questionable. Be especially wary of fraudulent emails or websites that have typos or other obvious mistakes.
- Don’t give out personal information in response to unsolicited requests. Be particularly careful about to whom you give your Social Security number, financial account information, and driver’s license number.
- Shred old receipts, account statements, and unused credit card offers.
- Choose PINs and passwords that would be difficult to guess and avoid using easily identifiable information, such as your mother’s maiden name, birth dates, the last four digits of your social security number, or phone numbers.
- Pay attention to billing cycles and account statements and contact your bank if you don’t receive a monthly bill or statement. Identity thieves often divert account documentation.
- Review account statements thoroughly to ensure all transactions are authorized.
- Guard your mail from theft, promptly remove incoming mail, and do not leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox with the flag up for pick up by mail carrier.
- Obtain your free credit report annually and review your credit history to ensure it is accurate.
- Use an updated security program to protect your computer.
- Be careful about where and how you conduct financial transactions. For example, don’t use an unsecured Wi-Fi network because someone might be able to access the information you are transmitting or viewing.
Tips to Avoid Frauds and Scams
Consumers should always exercise caution when it comes to your personal and financial information. The following tips may help prevent you from becoming a fraud victim.
- Be aware of incoming email or text messages that ask you to click on a link because the link may install malware that allows thieves to spy on your computer and gain access to your information.
- Be suspicious of any email or phone requests to update or verify your personal information because a legitimate organization would not solicit updates in an unsecured manner for information it already has.
- Confirm a message is legitimate by contacting the sender (it is best to look up the sender’s contact information yourself instead of using contact information in the message).
- Assume any offer that seems too good to be true, is probably a fraud.
- Be on guard against fraudulent checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or electronic fund transfers sent to you with requests for you to wire back part of the money.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers that require you to act fast.
- Check your security settings on social network sites. Make sure they block out people who you don’t want seeing your page.
- Research any “apps” before downloading and don’t assume an “app” is legitimate just because it resembles the name of your bank or other company you are familiar with.
- Be wary of any offers that pressure you to send funds quickly by wire transfer or involve another party who insists on secrecy.
- Beware of disaster-related financial scams. Con artists take advantage of people after catastrophic events by claiming to be from legitimate charitable organizations when, in fact, they are attempting to steal money or valuable personal information.
Internet Pirates are Trying to Steal YOUR Personal Financial Information.
Here's the Good News—YOU have the Power to Stop Them.
There's a new type of Internet piracy called "phishing." It's pronounced "fishing," and that's exactly what these thieves are doing: "fishing" for your personal financial information. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.
In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver's licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.
Here's how phishing works:
In a typical case, you'll receive an email that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the email may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.
The email will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as "Immediate attention required," or "Please contact us immediately about your account." The email will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution's website.
In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company's actual website. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information. In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother's maiden name or your place of birth.
In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.
If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.
How to Protect Yourself
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. Emails and Internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
- If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the financial institution yourself. You can find phone numbers and websites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look the company up in a phone book or on the Internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
- Never provide your password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet request. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your savings.
- Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, periodically review activity online to catch suspicious activity.
You Can Fight Identity Theft – Here’s How:
Never click on the link provided in an email you believe is fraudulent. It may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.
Do not be intimidated by an email or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial information.
If you believe the contact is legitimate, go to the company’s website by typing in the site address directly or using a page you have previously bookmarked, instead of a link provided in the email.
If you fall victim to an attack, act immediately to protect yourself. Alert your financial institution. Place fraud alerts on your credit files. Monitor your credit files and account statements closely.
Report suspicious emails or calls to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
What to do if you fall victim:
- Contact your financial institution immediately and alert it to the situation.
- If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name. Here is the contact information for each bureau’s fraud division:
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
- Report all suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
Common cyber-related crimes include identity theft, frauds, and scams. Identity theft is a crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data to open fraudulent credit card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, withdraw funds from deposit accounts, or obtain new loans. A victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses but also substantial costs to restore credit history and to correct erroneous information in their credit reports.
In addition to identity theft, every year millions of people are victims of frauds and scams, which often start with an email, text message, or phone message that appears to be from a legitimate, trusted organization. These messages typically ask consumers to verify or update personal information or they direct consumers to bogus websites (such as for credit repair services) in the hopes that consumers will visit the site and enter their personal information.
Additional information about various forms of cybercrime can be found at www.fdic.gov.
Security is the most important issue Gulf Coast Business Bank faces in making Internet Banking available to our customers. Using industry standard security techniques ensures that your personal financial information remains confidential. Gulf Coast Business Bank uses security techniques such as: Personal customer numbers, passwords, data encryption and firewalls. These security features uniquely identify you to Gulf Coast Business Bank Internet Banking and allow you to be certain that you are at the genuine Flagler Internet Banking site. It is your responsibility to keep your password secure. You will also need to use a secure browser. Certain browsers have the ability to communicate securely by encrypting the information as it passes across the Internet. This method of communication is called Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Gulf Coast Business Bank requires the use of a secure browser before you connect to Internet Banking. Additionally, your information passes through a “firewall” which is a computer specifically designed to keep out unauthorized users.