Consumer Alerts

ICBA Provides Tips for Consumers to Protect Themselves Against Cyber Crimes

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 10, 2015)--The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) and the nation's more than 6,500 community banks want consumers to be aware of ways to protect themselves and their personal financial information against identity theft and cybersecurity-related crimes.

"It is vital that customers alert their community banks immediately if they know or suspect their personal information has been compromised," said ICBA Chairman John Buhrmaster, president and CEO of 1st National Bank of Scotia, N.Y. "Criminals are on the hunt to capture confidential consumer financial information and personal data. The community banking industry wants consumers to have as much information, education and resources as possible so they can protect themselves against such attacks."

Community banks across the nation work aggressively to protect their customers' financial, personal and sensitive information on a daily basis. Community bankers have been informing their customers about multiple layers of security protection, monitoring customer accounts for fraudulent activity, reissuing credit and debit cards as appropriate and educating consumers on how to avoid fraud, identity theft and becoming a victim of a cyber crime.

Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission provides guidance on immediate steps consumers should take to repair identity theft. If any consumer believes they have had their identity stolen or are victim of fraudulent charges on a credit or debit card, reach out to your community bank immediately.

ICBA provides consumers valuable tips when it comes to taking proactive security measures:

•Monitor all of your financial accounts and report any suspicious activity, such as false or multiple charges, to your community bank immediately.

•Be sure to use unique passwords for all financial online accounts. Never share or duplicate usage of your password, account number, PIN or answers to security questions.

•Do not save credit or debit card, banking account or routing numbers, or other financial information, on your computer, phone or tablet.

•Use caution when sharing personal information about yourself on social media channels and the Internet. Identity thieves and cyber criminals can use information to gain access into your life. Never post account numbers, credit card statements or bank details.

•Be vigilant about using a password on mobile devices. Be sure to set your devices to automatically lock after a selected period of time to ensure no one can access your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

•Be aware of the location of your mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) at all times. Only log on financial websites when you have a secure, safe and trusted Internet connection.

•Shred ATM receipts, credit card offers or statements, checks and other similar documents when you no longer need them.

•Consider getting an IP PIN. An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers that helps prevent the misuse of Social Security numbers on fraudulent federal income tax forms, per the IRS.

•Do not provide your secure financial information over the phone or Internet if you are unsure of who is asking for it. Contact your community bank directly by using the phone number on the back of your debit or credit card, or stop in your bank to speak with someone in person. Remember, Sutton Bank will never contact or text you asking for personal or banking information.

Safe Computing Tips

Install or Update Your Antivirus and Antispyware Software:

Antivirus and Antispyware software are designed to prevent and detect malicious software programs on your computer. In order to keep your computer and your identity safe all computers connected to the internet for any length of time should have both of these products installed at all times.

Run a Full Scan With Both Your Antivirus and Antispyware Software:

Full scans with your Antivirus and Antispyware software can help to catch the most recent viruses and spyware that may have been installed on your computer without your knowledge. Full scans of your entire PC should be run at least daily.

Ensure Your Operating System is Up to Date:

Computer operating systems need to be updated to stay current with any security patches released by the maker of your operating system. In most cases people are running a Microsoft operating system that can be checked by visiting Microsoft usually releases new updates once a month, but may do so more often when an update is extremely critical.

Keep Your Software Up to Date:

In addition to keeping your operating system up to date you should also look for updates for the software installed on your PC. This includes software such as Adobe products, Java, Firefox, and Apple iTunes. Software such as this can be vulnerable to hacker attacks and may lead to the compromise of your system if it isn't updated. A good rule of thumb is that if you don't need a piece of software don't install it or remove it when it is no longer needed.

Keep Your Firewall Turned On:

A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who may try to gain access to your computer and the information it contains. Software firewalls are available to protect single computers and are even included with many updated copies of Microsoft Windows.

Review Accounts Regularly:

Everyone should regularly monitor their accounts for suspicious transfers and withdrawals. Businesses should monitor their accounts daily for suspicious transactions. Customers should notify Sutton Bank immediately of any unexpected activity.

Change Your Passwords to Banking, Email, and Ecommerce Sites Regularly:

Passwords are the keys to your internet kingdom. Changing your passwords regularly will help ensure the security of all your online accounts as well as the information and the money they give you access to. When changing your password be sure to use strong passwords. Strong passwords use eight or more characters with random letters, numbers, and symbols. In addition, you should never use the same password on multiple sites. If one site is compromised your other accounts could possibly be accessed as well.

Be Careful What You Download:

You should never open email attachments or click on links in emails from people you don't know. You should also be wary of forwarded attachments and links from people you do know. Email attachments and links can circumvent even the best Antivirus software. Additionally, you should be wary of downloads from trusted and un-trusted sites that seem new or suspicious. If the site has been poisoned or compromised by hackers you could unknowingly be installing a virus or spyware. If you question whether a download is necessary to access a site you can always contact the company for further information.

If Possible Have a PC Dedicated Only to Online Banking Activities:

Fraudsters and scam artists have learned that many small and medium sized businesses use online banking products due to their convenience. What they have also learned is that these same businesses often do not take the time to adequately protect their PCs as outlined in these tips, nor do they regularly review their accounts for fraudulent activity. Using this knowledge fraudsters and scam artists are now actively targeting small and medium sized businesses using phishing attacks, email attachments, and web sites designed to take advantage of OS and software flaws. One of the most effective controls is to use a second PC or "live disk" for your banking. This PC should not be used for regular web surfing, checking email, or other projects. These activities can increase a business's risk of unknowingly coming into contact with malicious sites and software. You should never use the computer your kids use for your online banking.

Measures Consumers May Take to Enhance Mobile Banking Security

  • Use a PIN or password to keep the mobile device locked when it is not in use
  • Make sure the mobile device does not automatically log into the bank account
  • Do not store information such as PIN numbers, passwords, account numbers, etc. on the mobile device
  • Notify the bank immediately of loss or theft of mobile device
  • Beware of phishing scams and deceptive websites that mimic the bank's website.
  • Never disclose confidential information or account details.

ICBA and SHCPF Provide Tips to Protect Elderly Veterans from Financial Abuse

The Independent Community Bankers of America and the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation have banned together to provide tips on preventing financial abuse for our nation's elder veterans and their families, offering the following tips on ways to prevent financial abuse for our nation's elder veterans:

•Secure all of your valuables in a bank safety deposit box. These valuables can include your Social Security card, passports, credit card account numbers, will and other legal documents, financial statements and medical records.

•Do not give financial information to callers that contact you and claim to be from established organizations such as your bank or credit card companies, especially if they ask you to wire funds or send them private information. If you are concerned about your bank account, contact your local community bank directly.

•Check your bank accounts and bill statements carefully. You can check them online so you can zoom in easily in case you need to make the statement larger for easier reading. Plus, online banking makes it easy to check your transactions on a regular basis. If you notice unauthorized charges, alert your bank immediately.

•Do not give your personal information, such as bank account numbers or PINs, to anyone in a phone call, letter, email, fax or in a text message.

"Protecting our nation's veterans is a need that must be addressed. These men and women have dedicated their lives to protecting us and SHCPF is dedicated to protecting them now," said SHCPF Chairman, President and CEO Peter K. Gwaltney. "Elder financial abuse is a rapidly growing problem in our country and we owe it to our veterans and all of the elderly to stop financial exploitation."