Internet Security Topics
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to establish credit, borrow money, charge items, or even commit crimes in your name. Thousands of Americans are at risk every year of having their identities stolen, and the incidence of Internet identity theft is growing.
Athol Savings Bank realizes that, unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous people who try to use fraudulent means to obtain your personal information. Please be aware that Athol Savings Bank will NEVER ask you to verify your personal or account information via unsolicited email or telephone call.
We have provided you with some links to sources of information about recent Internet and email scams, in hopes that by making you aware of these fraudulent activities, you will be better prepared to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
There's a new type of Internet piracy called "phishing." It's pronounced "fishing," and that's exactly what these thieves are doing: "fishing" for your personal financial information. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.
In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver's licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.
Here's how phishing works:
In a typical case, you'll receive an email that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the email may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.
The email will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as "Immediate attention required," or "Please contact us immediately about your account." The email will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution's website.
In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company's actual website. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information. In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother's maiden name or your place of birth.
If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.
How to protect yourself:
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. E-mails and Internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
- If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the financial institution yourself. You can find phone numbers and websites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look the company up in a phone book or on the Internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
- Never provide your password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet request. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your savings.
- Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, periodically review activity online to catch suspicious activity.
You can fight identity theft - here's how:
Never provide personal financial information, including your Social Security number, account numbers or passwords, over the phone, or the Internet if you did not initiate the contact.
Never click on the link provided in an email you believe is fraudulent. It may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.
Do not be intimidated by an email or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial information.
If you believe the contact is legitimate, go to the company's website by typing in the site address directly or using a page you have previously book marked, instead of a link provided in the email.
If you fall victim to an attack, act immediately to protect yourself. Alert your financial institution. Place fraud alerts on your credit files. Monitor your credit files and account statements closely.
Report suspicious emails or calls to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
What to do if you fall victim:
Contact your financial institution immediately and alert it to the situation.
If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name. Here is the contact information for each bureau's fraud division:
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
Report all suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
A message from the federal bank, thrift and credit union regulatory agencies
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
National Credit Union Administration
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Office of Thrift Supervision
At Athol Savings Bank, we’re here for you! If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.
We’re here to discuss your questions, suggestions, and concerns at your convenience; and, we always look forward to talking with you. Contact us today!