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Smart Banking Habits

The National Check Fraud Center offers the following tips for safer banking:

  • Review and balance bank statements upon receiving them and notify the bank of any alterations or forgeries.
  • If you must write your PIN number down, put it in a secret place and do not indicate what it is. NEVER write your PIN number on your ATM card because if it is lost or stolen a stranger will have access to your funds.
  • Avoid using checks or deposit slips as scratch paper because they simply contain too much personal information.
  • Shred bank-related documents--even if they are old or related to a closed account.
  • Never throw away convenience checks from credit card accounts without shredding them.
  • Do not sign a check until you're ready to deliver it and do not endorse a check until it’s cashed or deposited.
  • Never provide bank account or credit card information to a random caller or email. Scam artists frequently pose as bank officers to steal from account holders. Remember, banks do not need to ask for account information they already have.
  • Remember to fill in the payee and the amount lines when you write a check. To guard against potential alterations, draw a horizontal line to fill in remaining space.

Phishing and Pharming/What you need to know

In the course of human development, we changed from a group of hunters and fishers into an agricultural society. As is consistent with our nature, ID thieves also moved from "phishing" to "pharming". Though the analogy is engaging and the terms a little confusing, the danger is real and on the rise.

Unfortunately, phishing is now a well-established approach to ID theft. It occurs when a perpetrator posing as a legitimate financial organization uses email to retrieve personal and financial data.

Pharming occurs when an email purporting to be from a known organization carries a computer virus that infects a victim's computer in one of two ways. One sends the victim who types in a legitimate domain name to a bogus site. The other records keystroke information and transmits it to a criminal who then uses the data to access the account.

Some suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim of phishing or pharming:

  1. Never click on links in e-mail text
  2. Be suspicious of any e-mail that does not end with a .com domain name
  3. Ensure that the Web site is secure
  4. Update Internet browsers and Windows operating systems
  5. Never act upon any e-mail or pop-up ad that asks for personal or financial information
  6. Review bank and credit card statements immediately
  7. Report suspicious activity to your bank
  8. Report suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission

This problem is not going away, nor is there any foolproof solution to it. If you have any doubts whatsoever, contact your financial institution immediately.