Online Protection Tips

There are many types of online fraud. Emailed attempts to compromise personal information are called "phishing". This popular type of fraud appears to be from a trusted source like a financial institution and asks for banking logins, passwords, or other personal information. In a phishing attack, scammers send millions of email messages that appear to come from popular websites that you trust, like your bank or credit card company. The email messages, pop-up windows, and the websites they link to are designed to look similar enough to the real websites that they trick people into believing that they are legitimate. Victims who are deceived by these sites will unwittingly provide their credit card numbers, passwords, account information, or other personal data.

Phishing email messages are designed to look legitimate, often including actual logos or graphics from financial institutions. Phishers may place a link in the email that appears to go to a legitimate website, but it will actually take you to a phony scam site with a similar URL or IP address or possibly a pop-up window that looks exactly like the official site. These copycat sites are also called "spoofed" websites.

When viewing and/or providing information over the internet, BE SKEPTICAL. It is better to err on the side of caution. Unless you are 100% sure that a particular message is legitimate, assume it is not. Look for telltale signs of a phishing email, such as:

  • contains bad grammar
  • contains broken graphics
  • contains urgent requests for information that may threaten negative actions if you don't respond (for instance: we will close your account if you don't verify your username and password)
  • contains unfamiliar or suspicious links or attachments
  • is unsolicited and/or from an unknown sender
  • is sent multiple times from different senders

You can take a few precautions to protect yourself from other online threats:

  • Install a Firewall and anti-virus software-many of them contain spyware protection. Keep your virus definitions and browser and security software current.
  • Exercise reasonable care when downloading software and opening email attachments.
  • Have your computer analyzed by a qualified technician if you suspect your computer is running abnormally, you are receiving an unusual amount of "pop-up" pages, or you notice that you are being redirected to other web pages.
  • Beware of using non-encrypted wireless connections with computers, phones, and portable devices to send sensitive information from public wireless locations or even from home wireless networks. Using scanning devices, individuals can intercept unencrypted signals and view or obtain your information.
  • Beware of "shoulder surfers" while using a computer in public areas who may be trying to intercept your passwords or information.
  • Use strong passwords with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Change passwords periodically, and always change pre-assigned temporary passwords. When creating PINs and passwords, do not use birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, etc. that are easily guessed from personal information.
  • Never use the "save ID and password" option in your browser at home, or on a laptop or public computer.
  • Do not email personal and financial information to non-secure sites. Because of the potential for loss, avoid storing personal information on a laptop computer.
  • Properly dispose of old computers and ensure all sensitive information is removed from the hard drive. Reformatting the hard drive may not be sufficient-use specialized software to erase information.
  • Review your bank statements closely. Make sure you can account for all transactions. If you find any problems contact us immediately.
  • Check your credit report periodically. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies-Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion-to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up a central website and a toll-free telephone number through which you can order your free annual report. To order, go to or call 1-877-322-8228.

Note: The email address provided below is not sent through a secured internet connection. Please do not send confidential information such as your account number(s) or social security number by email.

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