Guarding Against Online Account Takeovers
Account Takeovers occurs when a criminal obtains your personal banking information and uses it to take over your bank accounts. It can take weeks or months to discover. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
STEP 1: UNDERSTANDING THE THREAT
Often, the account hijacker uses one or more methods to obtain your personal data. You should be particularly aware of two, phishing and spyware.
- Takeovers by Phishing deceive customers into providing their user names, passwords and account numbers via deceptive e-mails, fake (spoofed) Web sites or both. The classic phishing attack involves a deceptive e-mail that purports to be from a legitimate financial institution. The e-mail typically tells the customer that there is some sort of problem with the customer's account, and instructs the recipient to click on the included hyperlink to "fix" the problem. In reality, the spoofed Web site is simply collecting customer user names and passwords in order to hijack accounts.
- Takeovers with Spyware works by inserting malicious software, often referred to as "spyware," on a person's personal computer. Spyware can be loaded when a user opens a seemingly innocuous e-mail attachment or clicks on a pop-up advertisement. The spyware collects selected information (e.g., user names, passwords and account numbers) and forwards that information to the fraudster.
STEP 2: FORTIFY YOUR SYSTEM
When it comes to account takeovers, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Here are some basic safety tips you can implement immediately:
- Password Protection - If your password is easy for you to remember, the chances are good it is also easy for an internet hacker to figure out. Experts advise a combination of letters and numbers... and avoiding pet names, your home address and similar easy-to-crack codes.
- Virus Vaccines - Your computer‘s anti-virus software is like a vaccine - it works at first, but you need to keep it up-to-date to guard against new strains.
Patching the Firewall - This protective wall between the outside world and your computer can help prevent unauthorized access to your computer. Updates are called patches, and you should check regularly with your software company to be sure you have the latest patches.
- Zap the Spyware - Anti-spyware programs are readily available, and every computer connected to the Internet should have the software installed and updated regularly.
- No "Phishing" Allowed - lf you receive an unexpected e-mail, or one that you consider suspicious, delete it. Remember: your bank will never e-mail you and ask you to go to another site to verify information.
STEP 3: VIGILANCE PAYS
Chances are you will never be victimized by account takeovers identity theft. But if you are victimized, early detection is critical.
- Check your statements regularly. If something seems irregular, contact your banker to discuss it. An encouraging note: a recent study showed that customers who monitor their accounts online discover any problems sooner.
- Check your credit report at least annually. You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. If a hijacker is misusing your credit, clues are likely to show up here. For a free report: www.annualcreditreport.com.
Protecting Your Identity
Substantial measures are in place at First National Bank to protect your identity and your accounts against theft and fraud. For example, stringent bank privacy policies protect your personal financial information. Password protections for online transactions help assure online security. When using our online services, you develop a password that only you know. Encryption of online transactions converts your information into secure code, protecting you against hackers.
Maximum security is possible only with your help. Here's what you can do to stop these crimes before they happen:
- Do not give out financial information such as checking and credit card numbers, or your Social Security number, unless you know the person or organization.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately. First National Bank will block payments.
- Notify your banker of suspicious phone inquires such as those asking for account information to "verify a statement" or "award a prize."
- Closely guard your ATM Personal Identification Number and ATM receipts.
- Shred any financial solicitations and bank statements before disposing of them.
- Put outgoing mail into a secure, official Postal Service collection box.
- If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why.
- If your bills include questionable items don't ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud.
- Periodically contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and make certain the information is correct.
FACT Will Help Fight Identity Theft
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) will help reduce identity theft according to Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. One provision requires the three major credit-reporting agencies to provide consumers with a free copy of their own credit report.
Another provision is the National Fraud Alert System. Consumers, who reasonably suspect they have been or may be victimized by identity theft, or who are military personnel on active duty away from home, can place an alert on their credit files. The alert will put potential creditors on notice that they must proceed with caution when granting credit.
Other measures will help consumers recover their credit reputation after they have been victimized:
- Credit reporting agencies must stop reporting allegedly fraudulent account information when a consumer establishes that he or she has been the victim of identity theft;
- Creditors or businesses must provide copies of business records or fraudulent accounts or transactions related to them. This information can assist victims in proving that they are, in fact, victims.
- Consumers will be allowed to report accounts affected by identity theft directly to creditors — in addition to credit reporting agencies — to prevent the spread of erroneous credit information.
How to Obtain a Free Credit Report:
- Visit www.annualcreditreport.com
- Call (877) 322-8228