Identity theft is becoming one of the fastest growing crimes in America.
At AmeriFirst Bank, we take the safeguarding of your information seriously. In fact, we believe keeping your information safe and secure is every employee's responsibility. We also encourage you to take steps in protecting your personal information.
If you choose to contact AmeriFirst Bank using e-mail, please be advised do not send privileged or personal information via e-mail to us as information transmitted through this medium is not encrypted and therefore not secure. AmeriFirst Bank will never request customer account information via e-mail.
No reputable business will ever email you requesting that you update your personal information, including account numbers, passwords, driver’s license, Social Security Numbers, etc by email or a link to their site.
Protecting Yourself from Online Banking Fraud
The online banking industry has seen an increase in fraudulent activity over the last several months. With key loggers, virus attacks and phishing scams becoming more prevalent, are you doing all you can to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud?
Keystroke Logging or Keylogging
Keylogging is a method by which fraudsters record your actual keystrokes and mouse clicks. Keyloggers are “Trojan” software programs that target your computer’s operating system (Windows, Mac OS, etc.) and are “installed” via a virus. These can be particularly dangerous because the fraudster has captured your user ID and password, account number, Social Security Number - and anything else you have typed. If you are like most other users and have the same ID and PIN/Password for many different online accounts, you’ve essentially granted the fraudster access to any company with whom you conduct business. After all, they’ve got your login credentials so they appear to be a valid user.
Here are some ways you can prevent yourself from being a victim of keystroke logging:
· Use Anti-Virus Software. This is the single most important thing you can do to protect your computer from viruses. There are many on the market today – some cost money while others are free. If you opt to use a free version, make sure it is being offered by a reputable company and do research on the company and its product before installing.
· Keep your Operating System up-to-date with the latest security patches.
Phishing is a scam where Internet fraudsters request personal information from users online. These requests are most commonly in the form of an email from an organization with which you may or may not do business. In many cases, the email has been made to look exactly like a
legitimate organization’s email would appear, complete with company logos and other convincing information. The email usually states that the company needs you to update your personal information or that your account is about to become inactive, all in an effort to get you to click the link to a site that only looks like the real thing. If you click on the link to go to the phony website and enter all of your information, you’ve just been the victim of a phishing attack. The fraudsters have just captured all the necessary information to access your accounts online. No reputable business will ever email you requesting that you update your personal information, including account numbers, system passwords or Social Security Numbers via a link to their site.
Follow these guidelines to protect yourself from phishing scams:
· Never click on a link from a business requesting that you provide them with personal information.
· Pay close attention to the URL (Internet address) behind the link. Often in phishing attempts, if you hover the cursor over the link the fraudsters want you to click on, it has nothing to do with the actual company they claim to be.
· If your Financial Institution uses watermarks or personal images, do not log in unless you see the correct image on the screen.
· Report any phishing attempts to your Financial Institution and to the Federal Trade Commission on their website.
If you are unsure that the request is valid, open a new Internet session and manually key in the business’ web address. If the business genuinely needs information from you, they will have you log in to your online account to see the request. In most cases, you’ll just be greeted with a message indicating that the business will never email you requesting personal information.
What should I do to protect myself from fraud?
Besides following the tips mentioned in the previous examples, there are other things you should do to safeguard your personal and financial information.
- Change your passwords often. Even if your financial institution doesn’t require it, it is a good practice to change your passwords at least every six months. An easy way to remember: change them when you change your clocks to adjust for Daylight Savings Time.
- Don’t use the same ID and PIN/Password for every online account you have.
- Create passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters
- Never disclose your login credentials to other people or companies.
- Do not store your ID and Password information where others could gain access to it. It is best not to write the information down at all.
- If accessing information via a wireless network, ensure that the network is secure. Accessing sensitive information (or any website) over a non-secure network simply leaves the door open for criminals. Even if you aren’t visiting a site where you enter an ID and password, you are still leaving your computer exposed to possible threats.
- Businesses that use online banking services should consider doing periodic risk assessments and evaluate their controls in place to protect them.
- Do not send confidential information of any kind by email unless it is encrypted.
· Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when you don’t need them any longer.
- Read your bank, credit card, and account statements, and the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan. If a statement has mistakes or doesn’t come on time, contact the business.
An excellent source of information on how to prevent identity theft and what to do if you are a victim of identity theft is the Federal Trade Commission website at www.ftc.gov.
If you notice any suspicious or unusual activity related to any of your accounts, contact us immediately at 1-800-298-1763.