How to Stay Safe Online & Avoid Scams

Internet threats have changed significantly over the past several years. Hackers use sophisticated techniques, and there is a greater presence of organized crime in the cyber world. These criminals are increasing their focus on financial institutions, are compromising security controls, are taking over accounts online and making use of fraudulent electronic funds transfers.

To help ensure security when you are online, here are some tips:

  • We will NEVER ask you for any personal information when calling or emailing you (including usernames, passwords, or other electronic banking credentials) 
  • Choose a hard-to-guess username and password that mixes upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Change your passwords at least every 90 days
  • Keep your usernames and passwords safe (don’t write them down on a notebook right by your computer)
  • Have a firewall in place when purchasing items online
  • Log off the system when you are finished with your transaction (instead of only “X”ing out of the page or
    closing it
  • If you have a wireless router make sure it is configured to use stong encryption and that the default “sign-in” has been changed.
  • Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for financial information. Don’t agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money back no matter how convincing the story.
  • Don’t use the links in an email, instant message, or chat to get to any web page if you suspect the message might not be authentic or you don’t know the sender or username. Type the address into the web page directly.
  • Don’t respond to email messages that ask for personal financial information, whether the message comes as an email, phone call, text message or ad. You should only communicate information such as credit card numbers or account information via a secure website or a phone call that you’ve initiated to a legitimate business.
  • Consider installing a web browser tool bar to help protect you from known fraudulent websites. These toolbars match where you are going online with lists of known phisher web sites and will alert you. Earthlink ScamBlocker is part of a browser toolbar that is FREE to all internet users. You can download it at: http://www.earthlink.net/earthlinktoolbar
  • Regularly log into your online accounts. Check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.
  • Report “phishing” or “spoofed” emails to spam@uce.gov or www.ic3.gov and when forwarding spoofed messages, always include the entire original email with its original header information intact.