Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Tips to Avoid Identity TheftIf you think you’re safe from identity theft, think again. The bad guys are increasingly successful at obtaining confidential information. The recent news about the Target and Neiman-Marcus security breach illustrates that even competent companies can be vulnerable and divulge personal credit card information. So what can you do to protect yourself and minimize the risk of big-time problems? Here are some tips to help.

There are some precautions that are always good for protecting your personal information: never share your password, never choose a password that anyone who knows you can easily guess (such as the initials of your children or their birth years) and always protect your internet devices (such as smart phone) with a password. Those things will keep the casual trouble-maker from having success.

But there are other more intensive efforts you can make. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided a very good resource for Consumers on its website. One of its series on Protecting Your Identity, “How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure” lists ways to:

  • keep your personal information secure offline and online,
  • secure your Social Security Number, and
  • keep your devices (such as computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or ‘dumb’ phone) secure.

We like the recommendation to safely dispose of personal information by using a shredder and avoid “over-sharing” on social networking sites such as Facebook. And here’s another one: destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out.

Much has been said about how critically important it is to be discrete and careful with the things that suggest access to confidential information. A passive attitude about identity theft may be your worst enemy! Take your good name seriously, and protect it by paying attention to its threats!

Don’t forget to spring forward

It’s that time again—Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 9th at 2:00 am. Don’t forget to set your clocks one hour ahead.

A safety reminder: Many fire departments encourage people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they change their clocks because it provides a convenient reminder.

Predicted 2014 Cyber Crimes

Predicted 2014 Cyber CrimesThe AARP recently posted a list of what they feel are the looming threats to cyber security (read “your personal information”). We thought it interesting enough to pass along the link and a few highlights.

The AARP blog post Cyber Scam Predictions for 2014 suggests that our recommendation made earlier in 2013 to “think differently” and “develop your own security policy” contained some good advice. As we read the list, the word “prudent” comes to mind, as in “by being prudent a person or company could avoid most of these scams most of the time”. Here’s a partial list, the full text can be found at the source link below:

  • Devices such as TVs, game consoles and even baby monitors are connected to the internet and increasingly valuable as targets by the bad guys.
  • Computer and data sabotage. Cyber-criminals have been looking to destroy rather than steal data from computer systems, or hold the computer hostage for a type of ransom.
  • Mobile device malware.
  • Spoofing legitimate software. This is a big deal, and even prudent people could get taken by this one. Look for more information about this type of threat in a subsequent blog post.

Most threats are triggered by very smart and industrious criminals who target the unwary and careless computer user. Don’t be one of those. This would be a good time to develop and enforce your own personal security policy (see our Online Security themed blog posts for a quick primer). Keep your software and hardware up-to-date, protect your devices with good passwords even when it’s inconvenient to do so, and have a good password scheme where your email password(s) is not the same as any other online password.

Source link: AARP’s Cyber Scam Predictions for 2014 of 12/27/2013

Getting Social with Your Community Bank

Get Social with your Community BankWe’re constantly amazed at the openness with which some of our customers communicate with us via email and social media. On the one hand, we’re grateful to have engendered such trust and confidence, but on the other hand, we’re scared to death that such information might be abused by criminals who are very good at intercepting such data. Here’s some useful tips that will keep the convenience of online communication safe.

Watching the Twitter feed to see which bank office is unaffected by a snow storm is one thing. Sending the branch manager your online banking password to see if your account is locked out is quite another. Messages posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even most emails are NOT confidential. In fact, you are better off assuming they are publicly accessible. Therefore, when communicating with your bank, keep in mind that some information should never be explicitly communicated online via social media or email:

  • Your online banking user id or password
  • Your bank account number or balance
  • Your social security number
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your credit card number, expiration date or security number
  • Your mother’s maiden name

Some banks, including Peoples Bank, have a secure web site that can be used to send and retrieve messages. Learn about how to communicate with Peoples Bank online, including our secure message form, on our Customer Service web page.

We at Peoples Bank strongly believe, as do most financial institutions, that alternative means of communication like blogs, Twitter and Facebook are of great value to customers and their bankers alike. If you need a quick response or have a question that requires a speedy and short response, let the banker know via social media if you like, but be aware that some things are simply too confidential to sacrifice for the sake of simple efficiency. (See our Social Media Policy for an idea of the ways banks restrict their use of social media communication.)

Please, don’t send us your online banking password in an email or as a “private” Facebook message!