Protect Your Identity and Personal Accounts
Account Statements and Bills
When you receive your email notices or paper statements and bills each month, carefully examine charges, checks cashed, and withdrawals for discrepancies, including unusual transactions and suspicious charges. If you find any discrepancies call your bank or credit institution immediately.
Annual Credit Report
Checking your Credit Report annually for discrepancies and unauthorized loans may help keep your identity secure. Report any unknown entities, applications for accounts, or suspicious activity to your credit and banking institutions.
Do not send personal information including social security, passwords, or PIN numbers through email. Use verified phone numbers or encrypted emails if any of these items must be sent to waiting, legitimate agencies.
Check your mailbox daily. Take outgoing mail with personal information directly to the post office for delivery. Shred all mail with personal information including name, address, telephone, credit card numbers, PIN’s, and social security numbers. Shred all unused “preapproved offers” from credit card or other companies. If you find that checking your mailbox daily is too difficult, think about renting a P.O. Box for your mail which often includes sensitive information.
Do not give out personal information over the phone including name, age, address, email address, birthdate, social security number, and bank or credit card information. A good tip is: if your credit card or banking institution calls you, they already have the pertinent information they need, and will never ask you for these specifics. Quite often your company will have code words or security questions they will ask if they are trying to identify the person they need to speak with. If someone you do not know calls claiming to be a legitimate company hang up and call the number on the back of your card or on your legitimate statement to find out if there is action that must be taken regarding your account or to report the scam.
Protect Your Privacy
Cards and ID
After each purchase or transaction, check to make sure your credit cards, debit cards, and ID are still in your possession. If you find one is missing, call your bank or credit card company immediately and report the missing item. All credit cards not in your personal care should be kept in a safe and secure location like a home security safe or in a safety deposit box.
Passwords and PINS
Your passwords and PIN numbers can unlock most of your personal and business information. Keep these safe. Do not write them down on papers that can be found like in your desk or car. A safe or safety deposit box is a better option. Also, do not keep PIN numbers written down in your wallet or purse. This will make it all the easier for a criminal to steel your identity or money.
Social Media is a network of wonderful tools to help us stay connected with family, friends, events, and our favorite businesses. But the information we volunteer to these sites can be harmful. Do not post your sensitive information, especially social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, and other personal information on these sites. Not only your friends and family are watching your pages and posts.
Protect Against Scams
The counterfeiting of checks are still a viable source for scammers and easier to create with today’s technology and programs. Sending a counterfeit check for goods or services, or an overage payment with the expectation of being paid the balance in return are a few ways scammers may use a counterfeit check. To Guard against this, 1. Review the check for perforations (used to tear the check from the book) 2. No check number or duplicate check numbers on more than one check. 3. Change of font. 4. Missing address and phone number of payer. 5. Missing bank address. 6. Glossy ink. 7. Names of Payee have been typed. 8. The word VOID appears on the check.
Some scams are nothing more than a text searching for a respondent. No matter how legitimate the text may seem or how accurate the information they already possess may be, do not engage in texts with unknown numbers. If they claim to be a company with which you do business, call the company personally with a verified number. Never give any personal information via text.
Foreign Lottery Scams / Get Rich Quick
If you participate in a foreign lottery over the phone or email, you are violating federal law. There are no quick or secret ways to access foreign lotteries. Also, if you are contacted by and participate in a “get rich quick scheme,” you will only continue to be hounded by these fraudulent telemarketers. To guard against these scammers, do not answer phone calls from unknown numbers, foreign or domestic. Do not give out credit or banking information. Many scam artists will ask for this information during one of these unsolicited pitches. These scammers are good at their job and dupe millions every year. Do not let curiosity get the best of you. Better safe than sorry.
Phishing and Vishing
Phishing (emails) and Vishing (phone call) schemes are often nothing more than a call or email asking you to complete a survey with the promise of money in exchange for finishing the survey. These scams are also emails or calls that “alert” you to the fact that your bank or credit companies have been compromised. They want you to respond right away to verify or stop the problem by entering your personal information. Often they will also ask you to call the number provided which will also ask you for personal information. Do not respond to these calls or emails. Use a verified phone number (from your physical card or statements) and talk to an actual representative about the problem and report the scam.
A scam is a dishonest scheme or fraud. Be leery of taking any action on your computer, phone, email, or mail that urges you to send money quickly, uses fear or manipulation, or pressures you to get personal information. Be wary of unsolicited offers. Be suspicious of unsolicited charities, prizes, or giveaways. Contact local, state, or federal authorities if you feel you are a victim of a scam.
Protect Your Computer and Smart Phone
When going from one website to another, type in the URL of the website by hand, not by clicking links. These links can sometimes be unsafe by redirecting you to an inauthentic site.
If you receive a suspicious email, one that claims to be from your bank or credit card, and it goes to your junk folder, do not open. If an email arrives in your inbox and claims to be from your financial institution, but use language you feel is improper or out of place, do not open. Instead contact your company immediately.
A Firewall is a security barrier for your computer. It helps keep your computer from being accessed while you are using the internet. A firewall will filter information that is flagged as dangerous or inappropriate for your device. If you do not have a firewall on your personal or business computers, you should find and install one as soon as possible.
When shopping online for goods or services be careful of what company you trust. There are a few simple precautions to take to keep your information and money safe. Research a company before sending them personal and or financial information. Make sure you have typed in their website address fully and carefully. After purchasing, be sure to check your accounts to make sure only approved charges were made. If you believe you are a victim of a fraud, contact your local, state, or federal consumer protections agencies.
Make sure to install a password or fingerprint protection lock on your phone and personal computer so that personal information kept on apps, emails, texts, and pictures cannot be taken. Make your passwords unique. Do not use easy to guess passwords like birthdays or names of family. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers.
“Spam” is unsolicited and/or unwanted email. Often it is called “junk” email. Some junk mail is filtered out by your email provider, but many come directly into your inbox. Do not open unsolicited emails or click on given links to web addresses. Even clicking the “unsubscribe” button, often just sends information to the spam entity that yours is a valid email address. Spammers can then use that information to continue to target you.
Spyware is a program that is installed on your computer secretly. When surfing internet websites, clicking on links on social media, viewing videos, or downloading music, this spyware is installed without your consent and can begin tracking your visits on the internet. Much of it is designed to send you targeted ads, but many can capture your user names, passwords, and other sensitive information while you make purchases or send communications. Make sure you have your computer and smart phones scanned regularly for Spyware.
Do not forget to update security questions, PIN numbers and Passwords regularly. Also, inform your banking and credit institutions if your telephone numbers or address has changed.
A computer virus is a program that can replicate and affect or even destroy other programs on your computer. Viruses are also classified as Malware. Some viruses can go unnoticed while they take vital information, and some are aggressive and have immediate effects detrimental to your computer and the information on that device. One way to guard against viruses is to install anti-virus software (often firewall, spyware and virus protection are sold in one bundle.) Be wary of what websites you choose to open. Make sure the name of the website has a “dot-com” (.com or .net) in the title and double check your URL text to ensure it is the correct address you are trying to reach. Do not open pages of which you are unsure or links that are untested.
Protect Your Business
Like a personal credit report, businesses may also check their credit to ensure that all credit cards, banking, and applications for credit are valid. Check statements, bills, and charges frequently. If there are any discrepancies, contact your banking or credit institution immediately.
Keeping Computers Free from Damaging Viruses and Hackers
Business computers are as susceptible, if not more, as personal computers to viruses and hackers because criminals know that your systems house personal and private information of customers. When safeguarding personal security for customers, make sure you have installed the best and latest firewalls. Test recovery functions of your devices. Install anti-malware software on all devices to guard against Viruses, Spyware, and Spam. Only use business computers for business.
Ensure all business data is backed up and secured regularly. Track and care for customer’s habits, payments, and purchases. If any of these vary suddenly, they and your business may be the victim of a fraud. Be suspicious of any email, phone call, website, or text that asks for personal or private business information and account numbers.