Online Safety

In today’s cyber world, your personal information is at risk from many various directions. Your key personal information could have been stolen a long time before you realize that you are a victim. Understanding data breaches and how identity theft can occur will equip you with the knowledge to access tools that will aid in prevention and/or recovery should you need it.

The American Bankers Association, the Federal Trade Commission and the Identity Theft Aid Organization provide helpful information with the following links.

How is it stolen:

Data Breaches
A data breach is unauthorized access and retrieval of sensitive information by an individual, group, or software system

Malware Activity
Malware stands for “malicious software” – an umbrella term for software being used by cybercriminals to spy on you and steal your information.

Is a form of malware used by cyber criminals to freeze your computer or mobile device, steal your data and demand a “ransom” to be paid – typically anywhere from a couple of hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Is attacks using ‘spoofed’ emails and fraudulent websites designed to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data.

Web and Internet Activity
The internet’s accessibility opens our world to a variety of products and services, information and entertainment. On the other hand, it provides opportunities for scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. The Federal Trade Commission and American Bankers Association offer valuable information on how to protect your computer, your information and your online files. Security measures should be installed and followed, and software updated routinely to avoid issues with the compromise of your data.

Mail theft and Dumpster Diving
ID Theft victims report that 88% of all the sensitive information illegally collected by ID thieves was taken from the victim’s trash without their knowledge.

ATM Readers
Watch for card skimmers when you begin to use your card at an ATM.

Mobile phone theft
If your phone is stolen, you could become a victim of Identity Theft since your mobile device has valuable personal information.

ATM Safety Tips

These ATM safety tips that the American Bankers Association provide are meant to make you aware that ATM crime can happen. Please read them and stay alert at the ATM!

Protect Your Card:

  • Always protect your ATM card and keep it in a safe place.
  • Do not leave your ATM card lying around the house or on your desk at work. Immediately notify your bank if it is lost or stolen.
  • Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) a secret. Never write it down anywhere, especially on your ATM card.
  • Never give any information about your ATM card or PIN over the telephone.

Using An ATM:

  • Be aware of your surroundings!
  • Have your ATM card ready to use as you approach the ATM.
  • Visually inspect the ATM for possible skimming devices.
  • Be careful as you use your PIN, to shield it so no one sees it.
  • Always take any receipts in order to keep your information confidential.
  • Lock your door and roll up your window prior to counting the money.
Digital Fraud

Today’s world is more interconnected than ever before. Yet, for all its advantages, increased connectivity brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse. As Americans become more reliant on modern technology, we also become more vulnerable to cyberattacks such as corporate security breaches, spear phishing, and social media fraud.

Spear phishing is a small, focused attack via email on a particular person or organization. The goal is to penetrate the target’s defenses.

Social media can be a wonderful source of valuable information for hackers. Posting personal information can provide information to fraudsters for use in performing social engineering which can be used to trick your coworkers or your friends into doing things they wouldn’t typically do, like sending money to help you out because you lost your wallet that included all your identification while on vacation.

Read: Kent Lewis, How Social Media Networks Facilitate Identity Theft and Fraud 

Protecting Your Mobile Device

Your mobile device provides convenient access to your world, social and financial. We combine our email, bank and social media accounts into one device and usually do not realize the risks we face – criminals who can gain convenient access. The American Bankers Association recommends following these tips to keep your Information – and your money – safe.

  • Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
  • Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
  • Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware by installing mobile security software, just like you do for your computer.
  • Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions” and delete unused or rarely used apps.
  • Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
  • Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
  • Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
  • Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
  • Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
  • Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. Also be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
    Mobile Device Security
  • Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren’t very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
Shopping Securely on Your Mobile Device

More and more, we use our phones shopping online and at checkout at physical locations. We can enjoy a more secure mobile shopping experience if we practice the following tips.

  • Use the Mobile Wallet Feature, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay — depending on your particular phone — rather than a credit card to purchase.
  • Secure Your Phone with Instant Touch ID or facial recognition, making sure it locks after use.
  • Keep Your Device and Apps up to Date.
  • Pay Attention to Your Privacy Settings and Technology Agreements.
  • Since mobile apps may be gathering data about your usage, such as browsing history and personal data, configure the privacy settings on your device and apps so you can keep control of the information you may be sharing, and delete apps you don’t need.
  • Back up your data and set up Location Services.
  • Whether you use iCloud, Google Drive or another service, back up your data to the cloud continuously in the event you lose information, functionality or the device itself.
  • If your information could have been compromised during a data breach, be sure to read what steps you can take to protect yourself after a data breach.
Scams & Other Fraud

Whether it comes via the internet, social media, or by phone, the world of fraud has become prevalent in every area of our lives. The following items are the types of fraud and access to resources that provides information about what forms the fraud can take and how it can happen, and, how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

Online Dating

Online Dating is compromised by fraudsters frequently. The information from these 2 websites are valuable in identifying potential problems.

Phishing Attempts and Internet Scams
While email is convenient and has a good business use, it can also be misused by criminals for scams and various other fraudulent purposes. Phishing is one of the forms of fraud.

Nanny and Caregiving Job Scams
Finding a new job can be challenging, and using the internet might seem like the logical place to start searching. However, beware of scammers who could turn the promising job into a loss of money or worse. Read more…
Carol Kando-Pineda 2018, Staying away from nanny and caregiving job scams, FTC Consumer Information,

Fake Checks:
Fake checks continue to be one of the most common instruments used to commit fraud against consumers.

Donate with Honor, not to a Sham Charity:
Just because a charity has “Veteran” in the title or refers to “helping the Veterans” does not mean that the Veterans will see any of the money. More scam artists are using this worthwhile charity to steal money from donors.

Learn more about other scams