Fraud Prevention

The world is changing, and it can be challenging to keep up.  First Security Bank wants to ensure that all its banking partners are educated, aware, and safe against the threats facing us.  To that end, we will try to provide information on things you should know about, like scamming, phishing and identity theft.  Some of these resources point to outside sources, and  if you click on them be aware you will be leaving First Security Bank's web site and we are not responsible for the content.


The FDIC has a wealth of information available for consumers.  Please visit their site for information ranging from fraud prevention to loan tips.

Identity Theft

What is identity theft?

How can someone steal your identity? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.

Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years - and their hard-earned money - cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.

How do they go about stealing my identity?

Identity thieves may use a variety of low- and high-tech methods to gain access to your personally identifying information. For example:

  • They get information from businesses or institutions by:
    • stealing records from their employer,
    • bribing an employee who has access to the records,
    • conning information out of employees, or
    • hacking into the organization's computers.
  • They rummage through your trash, the trash of businesses, or dumps in a practice known as "dumpster diving."
  • They obtain credit reports by abusing their employer's authorized access to credit reports or by posing as a landlord, employer or someone else who may have a legitimate need for and a legal right to the information.
  • They steal credit and debit card account numbers as your card is processed by using a special information storage device in a practice known as "skimming."
  • They steal wallets and purses containing identification and credit and bank cards.
  • They steal mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information.
  • They complete a "change of address form" to divert mail to another location.
  • They steal personal information from your home.
  • They scam information from you by posing as a legitimate business person or government official.

How can I tell if I'm a victim of identity theft?

  • Monitor the balances of your financial accounts. Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals.
  • Other indications of identity theft include:
    • failing to receive bills or other mail, which may signal an address change by the identity thief,
    • receiving credit cards for which you did not apply,
    • being denied credit for no apparent reason, or
    • receiving calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you did not buy.

Although any of these indications could be a result of a simple error, you should not assume that there’s been a mistake and do nothing. Always follow up with the business or institution to find out.

What can I do to protect myself?

As with any crime,  you can't guarantee that you will never be a victim, but  you can minimize your risk. By managing your personal information widely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft.

  • Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know whom you're dealing with. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers (ISPs) and even government agencies to get you to reveal your SSN, mother's maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information. Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. You can check the organization's Web site as many companies post scam alerts when their name is used improperly, or you can call customer service using the number listed on your account statement or in the telephone book.
  • Don't carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place.
  • Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.
  • Guard your mail and trash from theft:
    • Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it.
    • To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail.  If you do not use the pre-screened credit card offers you receive in the mail, you can opt out by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567- 8688). Please note that you will be asked for your Social Security number in order for the credit bureaus to identify your file so that they can remove you from their lists and you still may receive some credit offers because some companies use different lists from the credit bureaus’ lists. For more information, see How can I prevent companies from using my personal information for marketing?
  • Carry only the identification information and the number of credit and debit cards that you'll actually need.
  • Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Use a password instead.
  • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect personally identifying information from you. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that it is handled securely. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask if you can keep your information confidential.
  • Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your SSN as your account number.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks. 
  • Be wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information.
  • Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work as well as any copies you may keep of administrative forms that contain your sensitive personal information.
  • Cancel all unused credit accounts.
  • When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank, rather than having them sent to your home mailbox.

Information on Credit Bureaus

If an identity thief is opening new credit accounts in your name, these accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You can find out by ordering a copy of your credit report from any of three major credit bureaus.  Check your report carefully to make sure it is accurate. If you do find any inaccurate information, you should check your reports from the other two credit bureaus. Note: If your personal information has been lost or stolen, you should check all of your reports more frequently for the first year.

GOOD NEWS:  A great way to keep tabs on your identity, and find out FAST if someone is opening accounts or credit cards in your name, is by checking your credit report.  Soon you'll be able to do it for free! A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months, from The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, has prepared a brochure, Your Access to Free Credit Reports, explaining your rights and how to order a free annual credit report.

TIP:  Since you get one free report from each of the 3 bureaus per year, do not request them all at once.  Spread them out, since you then get three free "snapshots" of your credit per year - all the better to thwart Identity Theft!

Where can I get more information on Identity Theft?

Click here to learn more.


"Phishing" Scams

What is "Phishing"?

Internet scammers casting about for people’s financial information have a new way to lure unsuspecting victims: They go “phishing.”

Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information.

How can I tell if I'm a victim of identity theft?

How do I identify a Phishing attempt?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you deal with – for example, your Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message usually says that you need to “update” or “validate” your account information. It might threaten some dire consequence if you don’t respond. The message directs you to a Web site that looks just like a legitimate organization’s site, but it isn’t. The purpose of the bogus site? To trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

How can I protect myself from Phishing?

The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company’s correct Web address. In any case, don’t cut and paste the link in the message.
  • Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization’s Web site, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
  • A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It’s especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Finally, your operating system (like Windows or Linux) may offer free software “patches” to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
  • Report suspicious activity to the FTC. If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to If you believe you’ve been scammed, file your complaint at, and then visit the FTC’s Identity Theft Web site at to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft. Visit to learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam.


Where can I get more information on phishing?

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

If in doubt check it out!!


A great way to keep tabs on your identity, and find out FAST if someone is opening accounts or credit cards in your name, is by checking your credit report.  A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months, from The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, has prepared a brochure, Your Access to Free Credit Reports, explaining your rights and how to order a free annual credit report.

TIP:  Since you get one free report from each of the 3 bureaus per year, do not request them all at once.  Spread them out, since you then get three free "snapshots" of your credit per year - all the better to thwart Identity Theft!

Internet Safety

Use Security Software That Updates Automatically

The bad guys constantly develop new ways to attack your computer, so your security software must be up-to-date to protect against the latest threats.  Most security software can update automatically; set yours to do so.  You can find free security software from well-known companies.  Also, set your operating system and web browser to update automatically.

If you let your operating system, web browser, or security software get out-of-date, criminals could sneak their bad programs-malware-onto your computer and use it to secretly break into other computers, send spam, or spy on your online activities.  There are steps you can take to detect and get rid of malware.  Don’t buy security software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially messages that claim to have scanned your computer and found malware.  Scammers send messages like theses to try to get you to buy worthless software, or worse, to “break and enter” your computer.

Treat Your Personal Information Like Cash

Don’t hand it out to just anyone.  Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name.  So every time you are asked for your personal information-whether in a web form, an email, a text, or a phone message- think about whether you can really trust the request.  In an effort to steal your information, scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy.  Learn more about scammers who phish for your personal information.

Check Out Companies to Find out Whom You’re Really Dealing With

When you’re online, a little research can save you a lot of money.  If you see an ad or an offer that looks good to you, take a moment to check out the company behind in.  Type the company or product name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review”, “complaint”, or “scam.”  If you find bad reviews, you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth the risk.  If you can’t find contact information for the company, take your business elsewhere.

Don’t assume that an ad you see on a reputable site is trustworthy.  The fact that a site features an ad for another site doesn’t mean that it endorses the advertised site, or is even familiar with it.

Give Personal Information Over Encrypted Websites Only

If you’re shopping or banking online, stick to sites that use encryption to protect your information as it travels from your computer to their server.  To determine if a website is encrypted, look for https at the beginning of the web address (the “s” is for secure).

Some websites use encryption only on the sign-in page, but if any part of your session isn’t encrypted, the entire account could be vulnerable.  Look for https on every page of the site you’re on, not just where you sign in.

Protect Your Passwords Here are a few principles for creating strong passwords and keeping them safe:

  • The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack.  Use at least 10 characters; 12 is ideal for most home users.
  • Mix letters, numbers, and special characters.  Try to be unpredictable- don’t use your name, birth date, or common words.
  • Don’t use the same password for many accounts.  If it’s stolen from you - or from one of the companies with which you do business- it can be used to take over all our accounts.
  • Don’t share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email.  Legitimate companies will not send you messages asking for your password.  IF you get such a message, it’s probably a scam.
  • Keep your passwords in a secure place, out of plain sight.

Back Up Your Files