Alerts & Notices
Financial Fraud Update
Criminals are working harder, but protecting yourself can be easier than ever.
The explosion of new technology allows each of us unprecedented ability to visit the online world to buy goods; download Apps, music and movies; research topics; send messages; and much more. But with this convenience comes a downside: the everpresent threat of hackers intent on identity theft, account hijacking and cyber-fraud.
Criminals today have a seemingly limitless capacity for devising ways to separate you from your money. The good news is, the steps you can take to protect yourself are as strong as ever.
Data breaches, the newest threat; phishing and skimming still dangers
An important change in the cyber-fraud landscape occurred when thieves learned to rely on computer hackers to breach systems and steal personal information from a company’s proprietary files. Victims of such attacks include retailers, healthcare systems, and insurance companies. This critical change resulted in millions of identities—perhaps even yours—being stolen and then reused for criminal purposes.
This development is added to the already existing arsenal of the cyber-criminal: personally targeted phishing, texting, pop-up windows, downloads, skimming, and spyware designed to trick you into revealing personal financial information, user IDs and passwords.
With such a bewildering array of scams, it could be difficult to know how you can go online and still be safe. Fortunately, an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure!
Your personal defense strategies
Law enforcement officials have joined with financial institutions to combat these criminals on all fronts. In particular, financial institutions have made substantial investments in people, technology and infrastructure with the single goal of protecting your account and your personal information. (You can learn more about these efforts at the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s Cyber-Awareness site—see below for the address.) You can also incorporate these basic precautions into your everyday life:
- Do not reveal any personal information online, unless you are positive about the source. Remember, most successful fraudsters are convincing con-men.
- Your financial institution will never ask you to verify any personal information by e-mail. Most e-mails are not secure and encrypted.
- Update your personal anti-virus software regularly.
- Install an Anti-Spyware program on your computer and update it regularly.
- Passwords should be strong and changed if you suspect a problem. Security experts advise a combination of letters and numbers.
- Check your accounts often. If something seems unusual, notify your financial institution immediately. Those who check frequently online learn about the crime earlier, according to experts.
- Check your credit report at least annually. You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. That means you can check for free every four months, an excellent safeguard that costs nothing more than a little time.
- Always sign off and log out properly – follow the secured area exit procedures.
- Monitor your credit card accounts closely and report any suspicious activity without delay.
- Be wary of skimming at ATM machines. If an ATM machine looks like a device has been appended to it—then it might be a skimming device. Go to another location.
- Be suspicious of any phone caller asking you to provide checking or credit card account numbers. Contact your financial institution or credit card provider to check the validity of the request.
Personal diligence is the first line of defense for protecting your identity and your accounts from theft and fraud. Don’t be a victim. Enlist yourself today in the cause of your personal protection!
Online Banking, Data Security & You
Partnering for online security
Online banking has grown rapidly into a major new way to bank. Some surveys show that more people prefer to bank online than in the traditional ways. This phenomenal growth has been accompanied by increases in the safety and security measures undertaken by banks and their customers. But cyber-criminals are always looking for new ways to electronically break into the bank and steal your money.
Safe online banking depends on continuing and strengthening this partnership for safe online banking:
Banks invest substantially in security
Lawmakers, regulators and the banking industry have forged substantive standards for safeguarding customers’ personal information.
Uniform examination procedures are in place to monitor and enforce these standards, and bank examiners regularly go on-site to assess how bank security measures are being implemented, understanding that each bank has a different menu of products and services, and therefore differing security requirements. Some of the areas they look at include:
- Access controls ensuring customer information can be accessed only by authorized persons, including use of multi-factor authentication when warranted.
- Physical restrictions at computer facilities that permit access to authorized persons only.
- Data encryption of electronically transmitted and stored customer information.
- Modification procedures to ensure that changes are consistent with the approved security program.
- Dual control procedures, segregation of duties, and employee background checks.
- Monitoring procedures to detect actual and attempted intrusions into customer information.
- Response programs specifying actions to be taken by specific individuals when the institution suspects unauthorized access.
- Environmental hazard protections against physical damage or technology failures.
Banks partner with you, the customer
Hamilton State Bank has security measures to protect your account information, but we can’t be effective without your help and cooperation. Many account hijacking attempts come as a result of hacking into individual user accounts, and from there electronically breaking into the bank using your information and security codes.
Some common sense and easily implemented precautions can help you safeguard your personal information:
- Strong passwords - don't use easily guessed passwords such as birthdays or home addresses.
- Anti-virus protections -Make sure the anti-virus software on your computer is current and scans your email as it is received.
- Email safety-Email is generally not encrypted so be wary of sending any sensitive information such as account numbers or other personal information in this way.
- Sign off and log out -Always log off.
- Don’t get phished-Crooks are always trying to get your personal information, and they employ some ingenious methods. Don’t respond to any unusual email requests for personal information—when you opened your bank accounts you already gave it. When in doubt, call your bank.
- Monitor your accounts -When you check your accounts regularly, you can let your bank know immediately if you encounter anything that does not seem right.
Helpful Hint: Studies show that those who monitor their accounts online often detect fraud earlier than those who rely solely on paper statements.
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Online and mobile threats
Cyber-fraudsters want to earn their money the easy way—by stealing yours.
Understanding how criminals try to trap you is your first line of defense:
- Phishing -This is the criminal attempt to steal your personal information through fraudulent emails or smart-phone texts. They are often very believable, luring the victim to a site that asks them to provide (or “verify”) personal financial details such as account numbers and social security numbers. A variation is called Spear Phishing, which are electronic messages that appear to come especially to victims from their employer, usually a large corporation. Cyber-security experts often term the mobile phone version of phishing Smishing, playing off the SMS, or Short Message Service terminology used in text messaging. Remember: your bank will not send emails asking for your personal information—they already have it.
- Card Skimming -This is a criminal’s attempt to gain a victim’s personal information by tampering with ATM machines. Fraudsters set up a device that can capture magnetic stripe and keypad information, such as PINs and account numbers. Using ATMs you know and trust—as well as examining the machine closely—can help thwart this type of theft.
- Spyware-This is the term used for criminal software that a victim unknowingly loads on a personal computer. Once there, the spyware collects personal information and sends it to the criminal. Up-to-date security software is the best defense.
Helpful Hint: Cyber-criminals often prey on those who are most vulnerable, such as senior citizens or young adults, who may not be as aware of the technical aspects of the threats. Make sure you alert any friends or family members who might be in this category. They’ll appreciate it!
- Internet Crime Complaint Center: www.ic3.gov
- Consumer Fraud (Department of Justice Homepage): www.usdoj.gov
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Response Center: www.ftc.gov
- Consumer Guides and Protection:www.usa.gov
- Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force: www.stopfraud.gov
- On Guard Online: www.onguardonline.gov
- Do Not Call Registry: www.donotcall.gov
- Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org
- Anti-Phishing Working Group: www.antiphising.org