These helpful articles are our way of helping you stay informed, and give great tips at keeping your financial information safe and secure.
Top 10 precautions online banking customers should consider according to FDIC Consumer News.
- If you bank online, frequently check your deposit accounts and lines of credit to spot and report errors or frequent transactions, just as you should with traditional banking.
- Never give your Social Security number, credit or debit card numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs) or any other confidential information in response to an unsolicited e-mail, text message or phone call, no matter who the source supposedly is.
- Don’t open attachments or click on links in unsolicited e-mails from anyone you don’t know or you otherwise aren’t sure about.
- Watch out for sudden pop-up windows asking for personal information or warning of a virus.
- Use a mix of security tools and procedures.
- Beware of check scams.
- When shopping online, deal with reputable merchants and be wary of unbelievably low prices.
- Using a credit card generally offers more purchase protection than a debit card or other electronic forms of online payment.
- Be on guard against scams hiding behind online coupon offers.
- Be careful if you download banking software onto a cell phone.
Frequently Asked Questions on Computer Security
Q: Do I have to buy expensive software to clean viruses from my computer?
A: There are reputable programs available for free on the internet that may meet your needs. Be sure to do your homework prior to installing any software. Verify the software’s reputation using software review websites such as Cnet.com, prior to installing the software. Some examples of free anti-virus protection and malware removal are:
Avast! Home Edition
Microsoft Security Essentials
Note: We cannot endorse or recommend any of the above programs. They are listed here only to show examples of what is available.
Q: Is one anti-virus software program better than another?
A: Marketing hype aside, all reputable antivirus software does pretty much the same job. Some may be better than others in regards to a particular feature, but any one of them is better than no antivirus software at all. However, there are a number of disreputable antivirus programs that actually do more harm than good. Be wary of any antivirus software that advertizes itself via unsolicited e-mail (spam) or pop-up windows.
Q: How do I know if my PC is infected?
A: Infected PCs may exhibit suspicious behavior, such as running more slowly than normal, locking up often, crashing and restarting frequently, or displaying unusual error messages. Or they may exhibit no symptoms at all. Also, the suspicious behavior often shown by infected PCs may be caused by a number of other factors. So while a poorly performing computer should make you suspect that it may be infected, you won’t know for sure unless you frequently scan your PC with an antivirus tool.
Q: Aren’t you safe from these threats if you stay away from those shady and unsavory websites?
A: Your PC could be infected from a number of sources. Viruses can be transferred from PC to PC through the use of a shared USB Flash Drive. There are many instances where a nationally recognized company’s website has been compromised and visitors to their site have been infected with malware. The best way to protect yourself is to protect your PC.
Q: What do I need to do to protect my PC?
A: While there is no silver bullet that will protect you from every risk, if you take the following precautions, you can significantly reduce your exposure:
- Install an antivirus program and configure it to update its virus definitions daily.
- Configure your computer and connection to the internet properly. Some computer systems come with a lot of security enabled by default, but have someone who knows what they're doing check the configuration of your computer and other communications equipment —wireless routers, DSL or cable modems, etc.
- Turn on automatic software updates. This is a feature of some software which allows it to patch itself with very little effort from you. Make sure it's turned on for your operating system, security software, and any applications that have the option.
- Be aware of your Internet surroundings. Learn to tell scams from real email, and when not to follow links or open a document. It takes time and practice to develop Internet “street smarts.”
- Perform regular backups. If your system becomes infected with a virus, you may have to reinstall your complete system. Backups ensure you don't lose your data if that becomes necessary.
Social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace allow you to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. They allow you to share ideas and the events of your life with the people in your network. However, the ease with which people can obtain the personal information you make available can be cause for security concerns. If you use social networking sites, you can protect yourself by following a few simple guidelines.
Limit your available personal information
Be wary of making too much personal information available online. Online banking and e-commerce sites frequently use “challenge questions” to help you recover a forgotten password, or for other security purposes. Often, your online profile will contain enough information to answer these questions. If a hacker has access to this information, he may be able to break into your online banking account. In fact, some online quizzes are nothing more than veiled attempts to gather answers to challenge questions.
Use privacy settings to restrict who can access your information…
Most social networking websites provide a way to limit what information is available and who can see it. Familiarize yourself with how the privacy settings work, and set them to limit your exposure as much as possible. If your social networking website has no privacy settings, consider taking your online socializing elsewhere.
… But don’t rely on them
E-commerce websites are held to a higher security standard than most other websites. Social networking sites have a spotty track record when it comes to protecting personal information. Even if your favorite website provides privacy settings, it may not enforce them as well as advertized.
Vary your password
Use a password for social networking websites that is different from the ones for your e-mail, e-commerce and financial websites. Ideally, you should use a different password on each website.
Know who you are “friending”
Consider refusing friend requests from people you don’t know. They may be interested in more than your friendship.
Beware of following links
Links sent in messages sometimes lead to websites that distribute malware. Consider the source of the message: is it from someone who never sends you messages? Does the message sound like something your friend would send? If it looks suspicious, ask your friend if they really sent it. If they didn’t, their computer may be infected with malware which actually sent you the message.
Talk to your kids about security
If you have children, talk to them frequently about how to remain safe online:
- Help your kids understand what information should be private.
- Explain that kids should post only information that you – and they – are comfortable with others seeing.
- Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child's social networking website.
- Remind your kids that once they post information online, they can't take it back.
- Tell your kids to trust their gut if they have suspicions. If they ever feel uncomfortable or threatened by anything online, encourage them to tell you.
- Consider using the social networking website your kids do, and become part of their network.
ATM attacks are among the most prevalent forms of fraud striking bank customers around the world today. Your best defense to this threat is to read and follow the tips below to help reduce ATM skimming incidents.
- Be wary of anything about the ATM machine that looks out of the ordinary, such as odd-looking equipment or wires attached to the device.
- Look for a “no tampering” sign. Crooks often place these to stop anyone curious about a new piece of equipment.
- Avoid a jammed ATM machine that forces customers to use another ATM that has a skimmer attached. Often, the criminal will disable other ATMs in the area to draw users to the one that has the skimming device attached.
- Check your bank account(s) regularly to make sure there are no unusual or unauthorized transactions.
- If you see anything unusual or suspicious around the ATM, or if you find unauthorized ATM transactions on your bank account, immediately notify local law enforcement, as well as Farmers State Bank.
- Always protect your PIN: Do not give the number to anyone, and do not write your PIN on or anywhere near your card. Always cover the keypad while you are entering your PIN.
Farmers State Bank is very vigilant about this particular threat and inspects all ATMs on a periodic basis. Together, our combined efforts offer the best defense to these increasingly sophisticated crimes. Thank you for reading.
Learn more from the Better Business Bureau on common scams so you don't fall victim in 2016.