Protect Yourself

Look for Fraud

It’s important to be on the lookout for fraud year-round, but especially during the holiday season scammers frequently prey on cyber shoppers.

There are several ways you can protect yourself—and your wallet.  Using familiar websites and being cautious of payment red flags are a couple ways to enjoy a scam-free holiday season.

A few other tips to keep you safe from fraud:

  • Update your online passwords to ensure they are as strong as possible.
  • Make sure your phone/tablet/computer are running on the latest browsers and operating systems.
  • Enable online alerts so you are aware of when payments are made.
  • Use a credit card when shopping and check your account regularly online. If you see a suspicious transaction, report any fraud right away.
  • Never share passwords, one-time pass codes, social security number and bank account numbers. If you are asked to share these, fraud would be the only reason.
  • If you receive a check in the mail you weren’t expecting, it’s likely fraud.  Don’t deposit checks from unknown sources.
  • When browsing, check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. A site you’re buying from should have https in the web address. If it doesn’t, don’t enter your information on that site.

And please take the time to reach out to those in your life that could benefit from these tips.  Recent studies show the “under 25 age group” are the most vulnerable to fraud attacks.  The second most vulnerable are the population between the ages of 57 to 75, and they lose the most money.

Know Best Practices for Security

We see the protection of your personal information and assets as a joint responsibility. Though we have systems in place that are quite accurate in determining what is “normal” for you, only you know definitively what is valid and what is not. As a best practice, you should monitor activity in your accounts, review your credit report periodically, deploy industry standard anti-virus and anti-malware on your computers and devices and stay alert for scammers over email, telephone or text. Staying informed on fraud trends will give you the tools to spot a scam when you see it.

Password Strength

Strong passwords are every user’s first line of defense. Strong passwords usually have the following characteristics:

  • A mix of letters, numbers and special characters
  • Do not contain personal information or common words
  • Do not contain sequential information like abcd1234 or keyboard patterns like qwerty
  • At least 8 characters in length


Computer Security

Personal firewalls and security software packages that contain anti-virus, anti-spam and spyware detection should be deployed on all computers that are used to perform online financial transactions. You should also ensure that software patches are up-to-date so that programs on your computer do not have any vulnerabilities.

Social Engineering

Social Engineering is a technique that fraudsters use to manipulate a person that causes them to divulge confidential information. Since people want to automatically trust another person it is easy to see how humans can be the weakest link in the fight against identity theft. Consumers must have a level of skepticism when online or when unsolicited communication is received.


Phishing is a commonly used fraud scheme where a fraudster impersonates an entity or person that you trust and attempts to obtain sensitive information from you such as usernames, passwords, debit/credit card numbers, etc. These fraud schemes can present themselves in the form of an email, text message, pop-up message or phone call.

To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam, do not reply to emails asking for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for this information. In addition, do not click on links contained in emails that are not solicited or are asking you to confirm information. As a best practice, always use a phone number for a business that is found on a statement or in a phone book.

Website Spoofing

Website spoofing is when a fake website is created with the intention of misleading the users of the site. Forged websites can sometimes be difficult to detect, but users can use the following tools to avoid becoming victim to a spoofed website:

  • Pay attention to website URLs – spoofed websites often will be slightly different
  • Type in URLs directly or use your Favorites to ensure you’re using the correct URL
  • When entering a secure site, ensure the certificate is authenticated