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Quick Tips to Help Protect Yourself

There are many proactive steps you can take to protect your accounts and help prevent fraud and identity theft. Here are tips to follow when you are online and offline.

Online Security

The Internet is a convenient way to access your accounts and communicate with your bank. By following these simple tips, you can enjoy a safe and secure online experience.

  • Keep passwords to yourself. Never share your passwords or PINs with anyone. By sharing you give others permission to access your personal and account information.
  • Memorize your passwords. Never write passwords down.
  • Create difficult passwords. Be creative. Stay away from the obvious, i.e. zip code, year of birth, or sensitive personal information such as your mother's maiden name or your social security number.
  • Change your password often. Consider making the change every 30 to 60 days.

Online Banking

  • Stay at your computer once you sign in. Never leave your computer unattended while using any online banking service.
  • Sign off when you are finished. It is important to sign off completely when you are finished banking online. This is even more critical if you are using a computer that other people have access to.
  • Use only secure sites. If you are providing financial information, be sure the site uses secure communications. One of the ways to determine if a site is secure is to look for the padlock icon usually located at the bottom of the Web page. If you double click on the icon, a pop-up window will appear with information about the website. The information in this window should match the website you are visiting.
  • Trust is important. Do business only with financial institutions that you know and trust.
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious Websites. Watch out for copycat sites that may try to look like a financial institution or other trusted companies that you do business with. To make sure you are visiting a legitimate site, type the business' address directly into your browser, or use a bookmark that you previously created.
  • Verify that it's FDIC insured. If you are considering on online banking, verify the bank is legitimate and that its deposits are insured by the FDIC.
  • Use public computers with caution. Only access your personal financial information from a computer you trust. Internet kiosks and cyber cafes may not be as secure as your personal computer.

Shopping Online

  • Secure shopping. When placing orders online, check for the "closed padlock", which is usually located in the bottom corner of your browser. The padlock icon indicates that when you submit your information, it will be sent securely. If you double click on the icon, a window will appear with information about the website. This information should match the website you are visiting.
  • Trusted merchants. Only shop with online stores that you know you can trust.

Browsing the Internet

  • Review site policies. Before entering any personal or financial information on a website, review the security and privacy policies posted on that site. These policies will usually describe how the website collects and uses information about you.
  • Keep your browser updated. Newer versions of Internet browsers have the latest safety features that can protect your computer from dangerous programs like spyware and viruses.
  • Use caution when downloading. Some software downloads from the Internet can harm your computer and compromise your security. Do not download any software from a website you do not recognize or trust.
  • Keep anti-virus software up to date.
  • Delete personal or financial information on public computers. To avoid the possibility of someone else being able to access your information, delete the cache memory on the computer to remove any traces of your visit. All Internet browsers have a "help" section that tells you how to delete the cache.
  • Beware of spyware. Spyware is software that tracks how you use your computer and which websites you visit. Spyware programs could get installed on your computer without your knowledge when you visit certain websites, open unsolicited emails, or click on links in emails.

Scammers also use "key-logging" programs that track how you use your keyboard. If a key-logging program is installed on your computer, you could unknowingly reveal sensitive information to scammers. Consider buying and keeping current anti-spyware software to better protect your confidential information. Anti-spyware can be purchased at retail stores, such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy, as well as downloaded from the Internet by providers such as McAfee and Norton.


  • Use secure messaging when it is available. Most online banking applications have secure messaging. You can access secure email when you log into Online Banking. Secure emails and online forms ensure that your personal information is transmitted safely over the Internet.
  • Use caution when opening unsolicited emails and attachments. Viruses can be passed along via email and harm your computer. Be careful when opening emails - especially from someone you do not know.
  • Don't click and tell. Never respond to unsolicited emails asking you to provide, update, or verify your personal and account information. These emails are scams.

Credit Card Security

  • Store your PIN in a safe place. Memorize your PIN. Do not write it down.
  • Use your credit card number carefully. Never enter your card number online unless you are on a secure site, and don't send your credit card number to anyone in an unsecured email.
  • Maintain your records. Keep a record of all your account numbers, expiration dates, and contact information for each card in a secure place. This will come in handy if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.
  • Report a lost or stolen card immediately. If you act quickly, you will minimize the potential loss and liability to your accounts.
  • Save and match receipts. Compare your receipts against your billing statements. When discarding receipts, tear them up or shred them so no one can access them in your trash.
  • Monitor your statements monthly. Make sure you recognize all charges on your statements. If you see any suspicious transactions, contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately.
  • Watch voided transactions. Keep a close watch on store credits and other cancelled transactions. Carefully review your receipts and statements and make sure voided transactions do not post to your account.
  • Destroy duplicates. Do not leave carbon copies behind. Make sure you tear or shred the receipts when you discard them as they may contain important information about your identity and accounts.
  • Carry only what's necessary. Only carry cards that you need, leaving others in a safe place at home.
  • Transact with only those you trust.

ATM Security

  • Avoid going to the ATM alone at night. If you do need to access your account after dark, make sure the ATM and parking lot are well lit.
  • Don't use an ATM if you notice any suspicious activity. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you notice suspicious activity, find another ATM or come back at a later time. Immediately report any suspicious activity to the police.
  • Don't count your money at the ATM.D Wait until you are in your car, or safely at home.
  • Keep your car running. When using a drive-up ATM, keep doors locked, passenger windows rolled up, and the car running.
  • Prepare ahead of time. Fill out all deposit slips before you reach the ATM.

Other Helpful Information

  • Don't ignore collection calls for loans that you do not have. An identity thief may have used your name and personal information and failed to make payments.
  • Don't ignore address change notifications. If you receive a notice and you didn't change your address, call the bank immediately. This may be an attempt to take over your account and divert statements.
  • Notify the bank if you do not receive a statement or bill on time. Your statement or bill may have been stolen from the mail.
  • Keep your address and telephone number information current. It is important to keep these items current with all your creditors, even if you don't have a balance. This will enable them to reach you if there is an unauthorized attempt to obtain credit in your name.
  • Keep your daytime contact information current on your credit bureau fraud victim statements. This will enable the company to reach you to confirm that a credit application is authorized.
  • Accept and return calls from the bank as soon as possible. Doing so will assist the bank is making sure they do not return an authorized check and do not pay an unauthorized check.