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Identity Theft


Online banking, bill pay and shopping are conveniences that the majority of people want to enjoy today.  And, most of the time, these transactions are completed quickly, safely and without incident.  However, there is always that small percentage of cases where something DOES go wrong.  And, that is why you as a consumer must be guarded.

As banks and merchants tighten security, Internet thieves expand their reach with new and sophisticated ways to steal your identity.  Today's Internet threats can strike at the home computer and even your cell phone.  Consumers must remain vigilant about their disclosure of sensitive information and take precautions to guard their personally identifiable information.

First South Bank is committed to protecting your financial information as an institution.  We go to great lengths to ensure your transactions with us are secure and that your identity is protected from fraudulent activity.  However, there are many steps that you as a consumer can do to further protect your finances.

  • Keep your personal computing devices up-to-date!  Every major computer operating system (and most software applications) includes "Check for Updates" functionality that can download critical system patches for discovered vulnerabilities.  Learn to use these features and exercise them regularly in order to dramatically lower your risk of infection and data compromise that can lead to Identity Theft.

  • Purchase an anti-virus/anti-malware system defense software package and keep it up-to-date.  Reputable providers sell bundled packages at retail outlets in sealed packages, as well as, make their software available for download at corporate websites. When downloading a package, ensure that it comes from an authentic source.  Again, pop-up ads or email solicitations are NOT good avenues from which to attain computer software, and in many cases have been confirmed to be malware disguised as security software. 

  • Do not provide your information such as account numbers, passwords, user IDs, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), or other confidential information to others.  Be wary of sudden pop-ups on your computer asking for personal information or warning of a virus.  Known as "scareware", this type of fraud frightens people into providing information or downloading malicious software offering to "clean" your PC of the threatened virus.  Do not open attachments or click links on unsolicited emails from anyone you are unsure about.  Sometimes these attachments carry "spyware" that can infect your computer and changes your security settings or record your key strokes.

  • Be cautious when dealing with telephone or door-to-door solicitors.  Preferably, do not talk with such solicitors at all.  It may sound rude to ignore someone, but remember that you are under no obligation to answer your phone or front door and it is highly unlikely that you're going to get more out of the conversation that the initiator.  "Social Engineers" are very skilled at collecting profiling characteristics that can be used to obtain information that is useful to their scams.  In a 2 – 3 minute conversation that may appear casual, could in-fact yield the information an attacker needs to steal your identity, and/or reset your online credentials.

  • Do not provide confidential information by telephone to in-bound callers, no matter who the source claims to be. Similar to email, Caller ID information can also be spoofed and should therefore not be used to authenticate a caller. More than likely, an "urgent" email or phone call appearing to be from a financial institution, government agency, merchant or other well-known organization may be a scam attempting to solicit personal information from consumers.  This is known as "phishing". Variations on this scam also exist in the form of "vishing" and "spear-phishing."  Such scams are no longer limited to email messages and traditional phone calls.  

  • SMS (Short Message Service) technology has opened another new avenue for social engineering in the form of Smishing.  Like phishing, smishing scams are crafted to extract some piece of information from a victim.  If you receive an SMS text message on your phone from an unknown party, do not reply to it — delete the message instead.  Some common scams of this type will feature language purporting to come from a known financial institution requesting a callback or PIN code entry.
    • Example: "NOTICE — this is an automated message from (a local bank/credit union), your ATM card has been suspended.  To reactivate call urgent at 866-###-####."
  • Social Network Profiles on services such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ can also provide a wealth of information that can be used for illicit purposes if compromised or made public.  It is advisable to share important details carefully and sparingly because even if your own security settings within such applications can be restricted to  elective individuals, you must also assume that your friends' computers are susceptible to malware and compromise and thus, could, by proxy expose something you wish to keep private.

  • Do not carry your social security card or number in your wallet.  Safeguard your credit cards and debit cards as if they were cash.

  • Do not sign your credit cards or debit cards.  Instead, write ASK FOR ID.

  • Report lost or stolen checks or debit cards immediately.

  • Review your monthly checking and savings account statements.  You should frequently monitor your deposit accounts and lines of credit to spot and report errors or fraudulent activities immediately.  With online banking, monitoring your account is easy and convenient.  This is important because the sooner you can detect a problem with a transaction, the easier it should be to fix. Checking your accounts once or twice weekly can go a long way to preventing extensive damage to your accounts from an identity thief.

  • Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN) associated with your ATM or debit card.  Do NOT write your PIN where it can be found and associated with your card.  Also, choose "strong" user IDs and passwords that will be easy for you to remember, but hard for a hacker to guess.  The strongest IDs and passwords include a mix of numbers, letters and symbols along with differing lowercase and capital letters.  Passwords and PINs are most effective when changed regularly.  The most common recommendation is every 90 days.  Password manager programs, such as Password Safe and 1Password, are helpful tools when you need to generate many unique, strong passwords, and optionally store them in an encrypted file.  If you elect to use such a utility, remember that the security of every password within its "vault" is dependent on its lock (password) — so choose that one master password WISELY!

  • Safeguard your account records and properly dispose of records and receipts.  Shredders are available at most office supply stores.  Compared to the destruction a hacker can do to your financial information, these shredders are small price to pay. Any bills or credit card solicitations should be shredded to guard yourself against a thief attempting to open a credit card in your name.

  • Protect your personal information when you are online by using a secure browser and other anti-spyware or firewall protection.  Always exit online applications as soon as you finish using them, and make sure you have virus protection and a firewall and update them regularly.  And, to be extra safe, it is better to not use a public computer at all, particularly WiFi connections, to conduct your online banking.  Criminals can easily intercept Internet traffic from these locations, including passwords to your most important accounts.

  • Do not reprint your driver's license number on checks.

  • If you believe you are a victim of fraud or identity theft, please contact us at 1-888-993-7664 or stop by your local branch immediately!

If you do find yourself as a victim of identity theft, you should take the following actions as soon as possible.  Keep a record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.

  • Contact us at 1-888-993-7664 or visit a local branch to place holds on your accounts and your VISA Debit card or ATM cards.

  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.  Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name.  Contact the toll free of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. That company will contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report too.

                      Equifax:         1-800-525-6385
                      Experian:       1-888-397-3742
                      TransUnion:    1-800-680-7289

  • Review your credit report to determine if there are any unauthorized accounts or inquiries.  Request that the credit reporting agency place a Victim Alert Flag on your files.  You are entitled to receive one free credit file disclosure every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies.

  • Close the account that you know, or believe, has been tampered with or opened fraudulently.  Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company.  Follow-up in writing and include copies of supporting documents.  It is important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing.

  • Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 to report fraudulent use of your social security number.

  • File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.  By sharing your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you will provide important information that can help law enforcement across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. You can file a complaint online or your can call toll free 1-877-438-4338 or write:

                 Identity Theft Clearinghouse
                 Federal Trade Commission
                 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
                 Washington, DC 20580