Two women who are looking at a laptop with their hands on their faces who seemed to be concerned about identity theft

Protect Your Identity

Don't become a target!

Take steps to protect your personal information. You can help protect yourself by using these helpful resources.

Fraudsters are getting smarter every day and continually inventing new methods to get your information and money.
 
All schemes are designed to get one of two things: your money or the passwords and other data that can be used to get your money. The moment you receive a request, it’s time to slow down, get suspicious, and verify the claim or offer.
 
Account Confirmation/Service Scams
A telephone call, email message, or text message from what seems to be a legitimate company asking for you to provide your personal or account information to address an issue concerning your account (“we suspect an unauthorized transaction”, “your debit card has been deactivated, to reactivate…”, “we are conducting our regular account verification process”, etc.). You’re asked to provide the information directly over the phone, or in the case of email and text, directed to a fraudulent website or customer service number.
 
Check Cashing Scams
A request from a fraudster for you to deposit a check for the sender and wire them the proceeds. In exchange for your effort, you are told to keep a portion of the check. Inevitably, the check will be returned as counterfeit and you will be liable for the full amount of the check.
 
Sweetheart Scams
Also known as a romance scam, this is a scam most notably used on online dating sites on which a fraudster develops a romantic relationship with their victim. Eventually, the fraudster requests money or personal information.
 
Work-at-Home Scams
In this scenario the victim will respond to a work-at-home employment offer. Most of the offers will take the form of an invoice or payroll processing position that only requires an active bank account. The fraudster will move funds into the victim’s account with instructions to wire portions of those funds to pay “vendors”. An alternate version has the fraudster requesting that the victim wire funds to cover onboarding and training costs for the new position.
 
Tech Support Scams
Someone will present themselves to the victim as technical support for a well-known software or hardware vendor and will convince the victim to provide access to their computer, to unknowingly install malicious software or to provide credit card information for payment. A variation of this scam involves the victim receiving a pop-up message alerting the victim to a virus and asking them to install free security scanning software to remove the virus, again resulting in the victim installing malicious software on their computer.
Because fraudsters work hard to obtain your confidential information, it is important to be aware of scams.
 
  • Carry only the cards you plan to use & know where your cards are at all times.
    Set up account alerts to be notified when transactions are made on your card and monitor your accounts via Online Banking, Mobile Banking or your monthly statement.
  • Never use the same username and passwords for your banking accounts and online shopping purchases. 
  • Ensure your computers have the most up-to-date anti-virus software. Check for evidence of tampering before using an ATM to obtain cash. Glue and overlays on the card reader are common indicators of tampering. 
  • Don’t use public WiFi access for financial transactions so hackers have less of a chance to capture your account and password information.  
  • Keep your contact information up-to-date with the bank to ensure we can contact you if we see any suspicious activity on your account.
Phishing (Pronounced Fishing) 
Phishing scams are used to obtain card, account or personal data through fictitious phone calls, websites and emails. Be wary of emails from unrecognized persons that require you to confirm personal or financial information.
Ensure your email spam filter settings are turned on to block these types of emails.
Keep in mind phishing websites are often copied from original websites and look legitimate.
Beware of phone phishing scams and never divulge personal information.
 
Charity Fraud 
Charity fraud occurs when an individual or group deliberately misrepresents its fundraising intentions or solicits funds for phony causes. Always request information from the organization including name, address and phone number.
 
Debit & Credit Card Skimming 
Thieves use a small electronic device (skimmer) that has been illegitimately setup to skim personal information from debit or credit cards without your knowledge. Common places for skimming are restaurants or bars where the skimmer has possession of your debit and credit cards out of your immediate view. After the information is recorded, it is typically sold to other scammers on the black market or converted into a counterfeit card and used to make fraudulent purchases. Because it is difficult to know when your card has been skimmed, make sure your card stays in sight and regularly monitor your receipts against your financial statements.
Understanding how criminals try to gain your information is the first step in building a good defense!
 
Know the Frauds!
 
Phishing (Pronounced Fishing)
Scams used to steal your personal information through fraudulent emails claiming to be from your bank, or other trusted source. It may appear authentic but be careful – any email requesting personal information or asking you to "verify" personal information is usually a scam.
 
Smishing 
Text and mobile phone version of Phishing. Smart phone users are being increasingly targeted because their phones are handy, and they tend to respond to texts and emails quickly. And, often the fake websites are harder to spot on a small screen. Be careful responding to urgent text messages and emails, especially from a financial institution.
 
Pharming (pronounced Farming) 
Another type of online fraud that is very similar to its cousin Phishing. Installs malicious code on to your computer and misdirects you to fraudulent websites without your knowledge or consent. Once there, you're asked to enter personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers or passwords that criminals use to steal your identity.
 
Vishing 
The voice counterpart to Phishing. Instead of being directed by email, Vishing occurs when criminals cold call you on a landline or on a mobile phone and attempt to persuade you to divulge personal information over the phone. Some typical messages are: "There is a problem with your account," or "Your ATM card needs to be reactivated." Often, you're asked to call a phone number or visit a website that asks for credit card or bank numbers. Armed with that information, criminals can steal from your bank accounts, charge purchases on your credit cards and even create phony ATM cards. To protect yourself, be highly suspicious when receiving messages directing you to call and provide personal information. If you are concerned, call the bank directly, using the phone number that appears on the back of your card or monthly statement.
 
Debit & Credit Card Skimming
Thieves use a small electronic device (skimmer) that has been illegitimately setup to skim personal information from debit or credit cards without your knowledge.
Common places for skimming are restaurants or bars where the skimmer has possession of your debit and credit cards out of your immediate view. After the information is recorded, it is typically sold to other scammers on the black market or converted into a counterfeit card and used to make fraudulent purchases. Because it is difficult to know when your card has been skimmed, make sure your card stays in sight and regularly monitor your receipts against your financial statements.
 
Social Engineering 
Thieves manipulate human nature in order to gain access to your online financial accounts. Thieves are smart…make sure you are smarter. Don't respond to emails or social network posts or messages that ask for money or confidential information. Don't assume that an unsolicited phone call or email is actually from a trusted source. Always verify, verify, verify that the request is from a legitimate source before releasing confidential information.
 
Malware 
Known as malicious software that is designed to infiltrate or damage your computer system without your knowledge as you surf the web. Malware includes viruses, spyware, Trojan horses and keystroke loggers, all designed to steal your personal information. Make sure you have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on your computer, and that your firewall is turned on.
 
Fake Check Scams 
Criminals use technology to create realistic looking checks or money orders and use them to pay for phony sweepstakes, lotteries, work-at-home schemes, mystery shopping and other scams. No matter what the story, fake check scams involve someone giving you a genuine-looking check or money order and asking you to wire the money somewhere in return. After you deposit or cash the check or money order and send the money, you learn it was phony. Now, the crook has the money and you owe it back to your bank. If you deposit a phony check in your bank account and use those funds, you are liable for the money, even though you may have been swindled. Be on guard for anything that seems suspicious. If there is no legitimate reason why someone would give you a check or money order, or ask you to send money somewhere, get advice from your bank or local consumer protection agency.
 
The best way to avoid becoming a target is to be cautious about unknown requests for money and confidential information. You can help protect yourself from most forms of identity theft.
 
Don't become a target….take steps to protect your personal information today!
Understanding how criminals try to gain your information is the first step in building a good defense!
 
These common-sense precautions can help keep your personal information safe:
 
  • Keep your checks, credit and debit cards in a safe place. Limit access to your Social Security number and other personal information. Lock up files containing personal information and treat them like cash or any other valuables that need to be protected.
  • Scale down the personal information you keep and don't keep sensitive information any longer than absolutely necessary. Shred anything containing personal information before disposing it.
  • Guard your mobile phone against threats. Treat your mobile device as carefully you would your wallet, cash or credit cards. PIN-lock your mobile phone and don't use unsecured WiFi. Disable the WiFi auto connect feature.
  • Report lost or stolen debit/ATM cards immediately. Contacting the bank within two business days of discovering the loss limits your liability to $50. Waiting longer may increase your liability on the loss up to $500.
  • Review your bank statements every month and verify all transactions, including small amounts under $20. Report any discrepancies immediately. You have 60 days to report unauthorized transactions to limit your liability. Waiting longer than 60 days may increase your liability on the unauthorized transactions.
  • Sign up for eStatements. Receiving your account statement electronically is far more secure than getting paper statements in the mail.
  • Don't leave outgoing checks or paid bills in your mailbox. Place your outgoing mail in an official, secure mailbox. Also, try to pick up your mail immediately after it is delivered.
  • Pay your bills electronically in Online Bill Pay. It's more secure than mailing paper checks and is protected by multiple layers of security.
  • Memorize your PIN numbers, passwords and secret questions. Don't write them down or leave them in your wallet for a thief to find. Ignore the "remember my password" options.
  • Use Anti-Virus software and keep it updated. And, keep your firewall turned on. Only use trusted websites when making online purchases or downloading music, movies and images.
  • Reject emails or text that ask for your financial information….even if they seem urgent. Don't send any account, PIN or Social Security Numbers. We will never ask you for that type of information by email or by phone.
  • Use strong passwords with at least 8 characters combining random letters and numbers. Change your password regularly.
  • Never click on a link from an email. Type the address into your browser. If you aren't certain where the file came from, don't open it without verifying. Be cautious before opening attachments. Even the most innocent email attachment can be infected. Common files like PDFs, JPGs and spreadsheets can provide a platform for installing malware on your computer.
  • Never give out your credit card or debit card number unless you initiated the transaction.
  • Log out of Mobile Banking, Online Banking, social networks and online shopping carts when you've finished using them.
  • Use our Mobile Banking app when banking on your smart phone so you can manage your account securely when you're on the go.
  • Use Social Security Numbers only for legally required purposes. Don't use them as your password or PIN number.
  • Protect yourself from telephone scams. Be careful when offering personal or account information over the phone unless you are certain of the caller's identity. If you are unsure of a caller's identity, hang up and initiate the call yourself using a known phone number.
  • Delete all personal information before you upgrade, recycle or destroy your phone, computer or portable storage device.
  • Guard your personal information. Know what personal information you're keeping, where it is stored, how it is secured and who has access to it.
  • Request that credit bureaus monitor your accounts for unusual spending patterns and require them to notify you before new credit can be granted in your name. These services come at a price; but that might be a worthy investment.
Protecting the security of your personal information is as important to us as it is to you. Let's work together to protect it.
We're committed to help you stay safe when you bank online.
The security and privacy of your personal information is our priority.
 
Here are just a few of the safeguards we use to help protect your information:
 
Password Protection
A password is your first line of defense when accessing an account online. Security begins with a strong password. Your password should be unique to you and should be changed regularly. Do not use birthdates or other numbers or words that may be easy for others to guess. Experts advise using a combination of letters and numbers. Always carefully control who has access to your password.
 
Privacy Policy
Our Privacy Policy covers how we collect, use, disclose, transfer and store your information. We provide notice of our Privacy Policy at account opening. You can also review our privacy policy anytime on our website or calling to request a copy.

Encryption
Once online, your transactions and personal information are secured by encryption software that coverts private information to code that is only readable by you and us. To show that your transmission is encrypted, some browsers display a small icon that looks like a secure padlock whenever you conduct secure transactions online. Look for the secure padlock in the bottom right hand of your browser and https in the address line to make sure your information is encrypted.
 
Help Guard Your Personal Information
All the safeguards in the world won't help you if you give your personal information away. Learn how to safeguard your banking information, credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers and other personal data.
 
Protecting the security of your money and identity is as important to us as it is to you. Let's work together to protect it.
Security is the most important thing when completing financial transactions online.
 
Banking Security Tips to Remember
  • Never give out personal information in response to an unsolicited call or email.  
  • Unless you initiate the contact with us or we are completing an application for you, Providence Bank will NOT request your personal information (account number, social security number or mother maiden name) through email, U.S. mail, or by phone.   
  • Providence Bank may request your Online Banking username to verify your identity by phone, however, we will NOT request your Online Banking password.  
  • We will not send you an email requesting that you click on a hyperlink and enter your login credentials or personal information. If you receive this type of email, please forward it to phishing@myprovidencebank.com.  
  • Report fraud immediately.  
  • Call 573.761.3700 (Monday-Friday 8 am to 5 pm and Saturday 9 am to 12 Noon CT)
Security Tips and Guidelines
  • Change your password regularly and use strong passwords with at least 8 characters, combining random letters and numbers.  
  • Memorize your password and secret questions. Don't write them down and be sure not to share them with anyone. Ignore the "remember my password" option.  
  • Don't use the same Password for Online Banking that you use for other online accounts.  
  • Do not use account numbers, your social security number, or other personal information when creating account nicknames or other titles.  
  • PIN-lock your mobile phone and don't use unsecured WiFi. Don't use public computers to do your banking, including those at libraries, internet cafes and schools.  
  • Make sure you log out of Online Banking each time you finish, especially if you find it necessary to use public computers.  
  • Keep your computer and access to it secure. Most people think their computers are secure, but they can actually be at risk. Be sure to keep antivirus software up-to-date and use a firewall.  
  • Access Online Banking from the home page of our website or by typing the URL directly into the address bar. That way you know the site is legitimate. You may even want to bookmark the site for future visits.  
  • Look for the secure padlock in the bottom right hand of your browser and https in the address line to make sure your information is encrypted. You can also double-click the secure padlock to verify the security certificate.  
  • Check for anything unusual, unprofessional or out of place like a slightly altered domain name, imperfect logo, or urgent account verification request. Copycat websites deliberately use names, URLs and web pages that are very similar to legitimate financial institutions.  
  • Review account balances and detailed transactions regularly (preferably daily) to confirm payment and other transaction data. Immediately report any suspicious transactions to your financial institution.  
  • Take advantage of and regularly view system alerts, such as balance and transaction alerts.
By following these guidelines for securing your computer and mobile phone, you've already made it harder for someone to steal your identity!
 
All the safeguards in the world won't help you if you give your personal information away. Be smart and protect yourself online.
You are your best defense against identity theft
 
Protect
  • Keep your personal information to yourself.
  • Don't print social security number on checks.
  • Don't carry your social security card, passport or birth certificate unless needed.
  • Shred documents with personal information including credit card offers.
  • Never provide important information over the phone, email or on the internet.
  • Memorize all PINs and passwords. Do not write them down.
  •  Send sensitive mail using a Post Office drop box.
 
Detect
Be aware if you:
  • Receive bills on accounts you did not open.
  • Notice unauthorized charges on credit card statements.
  • Fail to receive bills you should be receiving.
  • Find inaccurate or fraudulent information on your credit report. Check your credit report  for free or call 877.322.8228.
  • Receive credit cards that you did not apply for.
  • Get calls from debt collectors for purchases you didn't make.
 
Take Action
The faster you react the sooner you stop the damage.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports.
  • Close accounts that you know or believe have been affected.
  • File a complaint with the Attorney General's Office.
  • File a police report and an identity theft incident report.
  • Request that credit bureaus identify accounts closed due to fraud as "closed at consumer's request."
  • Check your post office for unauthorized change of address requests.
What is a Social Networking Site?
Social networking websites are a place for internet users to come together, often in groups sharing common interests in hobbies, religion or politics. These websites may require a minimum amount of personal information in order to join. Profile pages, telling other users about yourself, are another standard. Once you are granted access to a social networking website you can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members and possibly even contacting them.
 
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when an imposter gains access to personal identifying information (PII) and uses it for personal gain and exploitation.
 
How Identity Theft Might Happen Through Social Networking Sites
Because you must divulge some level of personal information in order to use and fully benefit from social networking sites, the risk of identity theft exists for people who use them.
 
Below are some of the ways that you might put yourself at risk of identity theft:
 
  • Using low privacy or no privacy settings.
  • Accepting invitations to connect from unfamiliar persons or contacts.
  • Downloading free applications for use on your profile.
  • Giving your password or other account details to people you know.
  • Participating in quizzes (e.g. How well do you know me?) which may require you to divulge a lot of personal information.
  • Clicking on links that lead you to other websites, even if the link was sent to you by a friend or posted on your friend’s profile.
  • Falling for email scams (phishing) that ask you to update your social networking profiles.
  • Using no or out-of-date security software to prevent malicious software from being loaded onto your computer and stealing personal information.
How to Protect Yourself
 
  • Use the least amount of information necessary to register for and use the site. Use a nickname or handle (although this is not possible with certain sites).
  • Create a strong password and change it often. Use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters that are not connected to your personal information (such as birth dates, addresses, last names, etc.).
  • Use the highest-level privacy settings that the site allows. Do not accept default settings.
  • Be wise about what you post. Do not announce when you will be leaving town. Other things you should never post publicly: your address, phone number, driver’s license number, social security number (SSN), student ID number and even your home town. Thieves can figure out your social security number by what town you were born in and what year. It’s ok to post what year or how old you are, but with this information combined with where you were born, they can figure out your SSN.
  • Only connect to people you already know and trust. Don’t put too much out there – even those you know could use your information in a way you didn’t intend.
  • Read privacy and security policies closely – know what you’re getting into. Some major social networking sites say they will use or sell information about you (not individual data necessarily, but aggregate information based on your personal information and that of others using their site), in order to display advertising or other information they believe might be useful to you.
  • Verify emails and links in emails you supposedly get from your social networking site (e.g. the Facebook scam emails that asked customers to reset their passwords). These are often designed to gain access to your user name, password, and ultimately your personal information.
  • Unclick the privacy settings that display the time stamps of your posts.
    Install a firewall, reputable anti-spam and anti-virus software to protect your information-- and keep it updated!
  • Be certain of BOTH the source AND content of each file you download! Don't download an executable program just to "check it out." If it’s malicious software, the first time you run it, your system is already infected! In other words, you need to be sure that you trust not only the person or file server that gave you the file, but also the contents of the file itself.
  • Beware of hidden file extensions! Windows by default hides the last name extension of a file, so that an innocuous-looking picture file, such as "susie.jpg", might really be "susie.jpg.exe", an executable Trojan or other malicious software! To avoid being tricked, unhide those pesky extensions, so you can see them.
  • Use common sense. When in doubt, don’t open it, download it, add it, or give information you may have doubts about sharing.
Our Part
  •  We use firewall systems and intrusion detection software to protect against unauthorized access to our systems.
  • We protect the confidentiality of your data by encrypting sensitive information with 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL). This is designed to ensure that sensitive information can only be viewed by you and Providence Bank and Premier Bank Texas.
  • We build information security right into our system and networks using internationally recognized security standards, regulations, and industry-based best practices.
  • We employ layered security controls including strong authentication methods following guidance provided to us by the Federal Government’s banking regulators.
  • We require our employees to take information security awareness training and to apply this training to their job every day.
Your Part
While it is your responsibility to safeguard your own data, including information that can be used to access or transact against your accounts at Providence Bank and Premier Bank of Texas, we recommend that you consider implementing the following data security related rules or controls for your business:
 
Protect Online Payments & Account Data
  • Evaluate your internal controls for Online Banking and conduct an annual risk assessment. Identify gaps and continuous improvement opportunities to ensure the safety of your financial data and resources. 
  • Dedicate and restrict one computer to Online Banking transactions; allow no Internet browsing or e-mail exchange and ensure this computer is equipped with the latest versions and patches of both anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
  • Segregate responsibilities among different employees by maintenance, entry and approval.
  • Delete online user ID as part of the exit procedure when employees leave your company.
  • Assign dual system administrators for online treasury management services.
  • Periodically evaluate employee job functions and remove online services.
  • Establish transaction limits for employees who initiate and approve online payments.
  • Set up alerts to notify manager of payments initiated above a threshold amount that warrant management attention.
  • Use dual controls; require multiple users to release an Online ACH or Wire payment because it is less likely a fraudster would control the workstation of both initiating employees.
  • Reconcile by carefully monitoring account activity and reviewing all transactions initiated by your company on a daily basis.
Best Practices for Online Banking Security
Use strong, complete passwords that contain:
  • Alpha/numeric characters and symbols. 
  • Upper and lowercase characters.
  • Minimum of 8 characters but longer is recommended.
  • No real words or names of family/friends/pets.
  • Use entire keyboard; avoid strings of identical characters.
  • Change your passwords regularly and use a different password for each website you access.
  • Never reveal your confidential login ID, password, PIN or answers to security questions to anyone.
  • Never bank online using computers at kiosks, cafes, unsecured computers, or unsecured wireless networks. Prohibit the use of shared user names and passwords for your Online Banking accounts.
Tips to Avoid Phishing, Spyware and Malware
  • Don’t open e-mail from unknown sources.
  • Never respond to suspicious e-mail or click on any hyperlink embedded in a suspicious e-mail.
  • Call the purported source if you are unsure who sent an email.
  • If an email claims to be from your bank, call the bank.
  • Educate your staff about current scams and loss-prevention steps.
  • Make sure ALL of the computers your staff members use for work-related business, at the office and at home, have the latest versions and patches of both anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
  • Maintain updated and patched systems and software.
  • Install a firewall between your computers and the Internet.
  • Restrict administrative rights to install programs to IT staff.
  • Check your settings and select at least a medium level of security for your browsers.
  • Clear the browser cache before starting an Online Banking session to eliminate copies of web pages that have been stored on the hard drive.
  • There is no substitute for the advice of experts with intimate knowledge of your operations.
  • We recommend that you obtain data security and anti-fraud advice from such experts.
If you suspect you may have been a victim of a fraudulent Online Banking scam regarding your Providence Bank or Premier Bank Texas account, please contact the Electronic Banking Department at 573.761.3700.
Small Business Guide to Corporate Account Takeover
by the American Bankers Association
 
Corporate account takeover is a type of fraud where thieves gain access to a business’ finances to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees to payroll, and stealing sensitive customer information that may not be recoverable.
 
What is Corporate Account Takeover?
Corporate account takeover is a growing threat for small businesses. In 2011, 72% of data breach cases affected businesses with 100 employees or less. It is important that businesses understand and prepare for this risk.
 
Cyber thieves target employees through phishing, phone calls, and even social networks. It is common for thieves to send emails posing as a bank, delivery company, court or the Better Business Bureau. Once the email is opened, malware is loaded on the computer which then records login credentials and passcodes and reports them back to the criminals.
 
Employee Education in Essential, but is Missing the Mark
You and your employees are the first line of defense against corporate account takeover. A strong security program paired with employee education about the warning signs, safe practices, and responses to a suspected takeover are essential to protection your company and customers.
92% of respondents to a recent survey indicated employee education of small business employees was effective in reducing the threat of account takeover. However, nearly 80% of respondents to a small business survey said they had no formal internet security policy, with almost half indicating they provide no internet safety training to employees.
 
How do I protect myself and my small business?
The best way to protect against corporate account takeover is a strong partnership with your financial institution. Work with your bank to understand security measures needed with the business and to establish safeguards on the accounts that can help the bank identify and prevent unauthorized access to your funds.
 
As a shared responsibility between the bank and the business is the most effective way to prevent corporate account takeover.
 
Consider these tips to ensure your business is well prepared:
Protect your online environment. It is important to protect your cyber environment just as you would your cash and physical location. Do not use unprotected internet connections. Encrypt sensitive data and keep updated virus protections on your computer. Use complex passwords and change them periodically.
 
Partner with your bank to prevent unauthorized transactions. Talk to your banker about programs that safeguard you from unauthorized transactions. Positive Pay and other services that offer call backs, device authentication, multi-person approval processes and batch limits help protect you from fraud.
 
Pay attention to suspicious activity and react quickly. Look out for unexplained account or network activity, pop ups, and suspicious emails. If detected, immediately contact your financial institution stop all online activity and remove any systems that may have been compromised. Keep records of what happened.