You can stop identity theft at the source by preventing your private information from falling into the wrong hands. Become more defensive against fraud during everyday activities by following these simple prevention tips.
Identity Fraud Prevention Tips
- Cancel your paper bills and statements wherever possible and instead check your statements and pay bills online.
- Refrain from carrying unnecessary information, such as pin numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers in your wallet or purse.
- Keep highly sensitive financial information (bank statements, log-in for online banking accounts, debit card PIN numbers or paper checks) away from where others, including family members, friends, neighbors, and domestic employees, could potentially access it.
- Retrieve paper mail promptly and deposit mail with sensitive information in a secure outgoing mailbox.
- Shred sensitive documents before discarding.
- Use and regularly update firewall, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software.
- Designate a password for your Visa® debit or credit card with Verified by VISA®.
- Choose a PIN that is hard to guess. Don't use personal identifying numbers, such as birthdays, phone numbers and Social Security numbers.
NCUA Consumer Report Videos: How to recognize, avoid and report cyber fraud
Part I – how fraudsters initiate contact with consumers and how to detect and prevent fraud.
Part II- preventative techniques for combating different types of fraud, scams and cyber threats; reporting fraud, and new EMV technology
Online Safety Tips
Use the following best practices whenever accessing your account or card information online, including online banking, eZCardInfo.com or other credit union websites.
1. Create a strong password. Create passwords that are easy to remember, but hard for other people to guess.
- Use both alpha and numeric characters
- Include special characters when possible
- Don't use names of family members or pets
- Don't use phone numbers, Social Security numbers or birthdates
- Don't use your account number within the password
2. Update your password. Change your password on a regular basis. This helps keep your accounts secure should someone obtain your user ID and password.
3. Never share your password with anyone. Never write down your password or share it with anyone. If you must write it down to remember it, keep it in a locked safe or encrypted computer file.
4. Don't open links in emails. Hackers try to get information from individuals by sending emails asking for verification of account information. These emails may say that your bank account has been closed or that it needs to be verified. If you ever receive an email of this nature, do not open the attached files, and do not provide any personal information. Columbia Credit Union will never solicit your personal or account information through email.
5. Install a firewall. A firewall protects your computer from hackers and intruders. A firewall is software that guards your computer from unauthorized or unwanted traffic. You can purchase a firewall program from your local computer store.
6. Use anti-virus software. Anti-virus software protects your computer against viruses. Viruses destroy stored information and interrupt operations. An anti-virus program detects and destroys viruses. With new viruses emerging daily, you need to regularly update your anti-virus program.
7. Use anti-spyware software. Spyware is software that gathers information electronically about people without their knowledge or consent. It then relays that information to an unauthorized third party. You may get spyware by downloading free software or by clicking on pop-ups or dialogue boxes. Always read the disclosure to understand what you are downloading. It's possible for you to inadvertently agree to accept spyware with a program you're downloading.
8. Take advantage of security updates. Your Internet service provider and your Internet browser manufacturer (e.g. Microsoft) periodically issue security updates. These updates patch holes that allow viruses to get through. If you don't have or don't use auto-update mechanisms in your software, visit the manufacturers' websites regularly to make sure you have the latest fixes.
Mobile Banking Safety
Our Commitment to Security
Rest assured Columbia Credit Union is committed to protecting the privacy and security of your account information. A number of security features are built into the Mobile Banking services:
- Your password is never stored on your device.
- No one is able to access the Mobile Web or Apps without knowing your username and password.
- When you log out of your web browser or app, the session ends. If you forget to sign out, your session will automatically end after five minutes.
- 128-bit SSL encryption protects your information as it travels from your mobile device to the credit union.
- Only the phones that you personally enroll can use Text Banking. A unique and time-sensitive activation code ensures that you are in control of your mobile device during enrollment.
- Both your online banking and mobile banking access will be locked if the incorrect password is entered five times in either system.
To defend your personal and account information, we recommend that you employ the safeguards below when using mobile banking:
- Password protect all mobile devices.
- Actively change your password on a regular basis.
- Always sign out of mobile banking when you have completed your activity.
- Only install applications from Google Play or the Apple App Store, and only select applications from trusted sources.
- For mobile devices using the Android operating system, do not enable Android's "install from unknown sources" feature.
- Do not jailbreak or "root" your device. This undermines the security already in place.
- Just as you should never carry your Social Security card in your wallet, never save your login credentials in your phone's address book or notepad tools.
- Always keep your mobile device with you, and secure the device when not in use.
- Frequently delete text messages received from the credit union.
- Periodically delete your browser cache and history or opt to disable web caching.
- Use the most recent version of your phone's operating system to ensure you have the latest security patches.
If your device is lost or stolen, notify your wireless carrier immediately and contact Columbia Credit Union.
- Install antivirus software if it has not already been placed on the operating device.
- Use caution when using apps on social networking sites; verify the app does not have access to personally identifying information.
- Wait a week to download new applications that have not been tested and reviewed by users. Untried applications could harbor malicious code.
- Check your credit union account frequently and notify the credit union of any unauthorized transactions as noticed.
- Never respond to text messages requesting personal information, such as Social Security numbers, credit/debit card numbers and account numbers.
- Adopt the same safe practices as you would when using your personal computers, including not opening attachments or clicking on links contained in emails received from unfamiliar sources.
Business Tips to Prevent Fraud
Help protect your business accounts and data from ever-increasing and sophisticated fraud schemes. Review the following tips for safeguarding your accounts and data.
1. Five key principles of a sound security system:
Read the Federal Trade Commission's booklet, Protecting Personal Information. A Guide for Business. To request a complimentary copy of the booklet, visit your nearest branch.
2. Password management
- Never share your passwords; store them in a secure location.
- Create passwords at least eight characters long using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
- Avoid using common words, your login name or personal data.
- Change passwords regularly.
- Don't use the same password for each online account you access.
3. Keep computer operating systems current
Older computer operating systems may not offer the same level of protection as newer systems. Some manufacturers provide frequent updates automatically through email or Internet connections. Check your manufacturer's website for information.
4. Use most current web browser versions available
To offer our members the most secure access, Columbia continually upgrades our online services. This may require you to upgrade to a current web browser to access your accounts.
A firewall makes it harder for hackers to locate your computer and get into your programs and files. Consider installing a “border” firewall that separates your network from the Internet. Set access controls that determine who gets through the firewall and what they will be allowed to see. This will ensure that only trusted employees with a legitimate business need will have access to the network.
6. Keep anti-virus software up to date
Install and update anti-virus software. Regularly running anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on the computers and servers on your network can deflect emails with infected attachments.
7. Block pop-ups
Activate a pop-up blocker to block all pop-up windows while you are online. Check for legitimate programs available from vendors free on the Internet.
8. Perform regular spyware scans
Spyware and adware programs can follow your web viewing activity and potentially relay information to a sketchy source. Regular scans can remove these programs from your computer. Check for legitimate spyware and adware programs available from vendors free on the Internet.
9. Use secure websites
For shopping and other transactions, be sure that the web page you are viewing offers encryption of your data – look for a lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of your browser window and check to see if the web page address you are viewing begins with “https” (the “s” means it's secured).
10. Be wary of downloads
Downloading programs from unknown sources may infect your computer with stealth programs or viruses that can compromise your security without you even knowing it.
11. Cut the power
If your computer is connected to the Internet, shut it down when it's not in use to avoid unwanted access.
12. Keep employee authorizations current
When an employee leaves your company, be sure to have his or her name removed from all authorizations.
13. Know your vendors
If a vendor requests changes in payment, require all changes to payment account numbers be made in writing and verify by calling the vendor's phone number located in your files.
14. Review your account statements regularly and report any suspicious activity immediately.