Americans live in a mobile society, relying on smart phones, tablets and computers to gather news, make purchases, interact with friends and family, and connect with financial institutions.
Increasingly, cyber-criminals compromise the networks that support these devices. This often results in identity theft, which can also yield financial losses and safety for consumers. A recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that computer hackers have stolen the personal information of approximately 40 million U.S. residents.
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and MBL Bank and the Independent Community Bankers of America are offering tips to help consumers avoid having their online financial information disrupted or stolen. ICBA, along with more than 6,000 community banks across the country, urge consumers to remain vigilant and protect themselves from potential credit card and bank fraud.
MBL Bank and ICBA offer the following tips to help consumers safeguard their online accounts:
– When sending sensitive information over the Internet, make sure “https:” appears in the address bar. This means the information you are transmitting is encrypted.
– Ensure the wireless network you use is password-protected; choose a strong password and update it frequently for your work and home wireless networks. Likewise, always use a passcode on your mobile phone or tablet to stop an unauthorized user from accessing your device.
– Do not enter sensitive information into your phone when others can see what you’re entering.
– Set the privacy settings on frequented social network sites. Cyber-criminals often learn about people and their families and friends via social media in an attempt to spoof or phish you and your network.
– Remain cautious of someone who isn’t who they say they are or if the name and area don’t match what appears on caller ID. This is often how spoofing occurs.
– Never respond to text messages, emails or phone calls from companies alleging to be your bank, government officials or business representatives that request your banking ID, account numbers, user name or password.
– Similarly, do not click on links sent to you from unknown sources via text message because they are likely malware.
– Beware of “get rich quick” schemes; never voluntarily give out your bank account information or security credentials.
“Now more than ever consumers must remain alert to the possibility of their personal credit and financial security being compromised,” said Jack E. Byrd, Jr., MBL Bank president and CEO. “Community banks like MBL Bank often serve as the first line of defense in ensuring their customers’ financial information is not being used improperly. These banks have established protocols to protect customers’ financial information from data breaches.”
Learn more about Cyber Security Awareness Month by visiting the Stay Safe Online website at www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/. For more information about identity theft, corporate account takeover and cyber security, visit the customer education section at www.mblbank.com.