Protect your personal information and your financial assets with these resources.
ATM Safety Tips
Protecting Your ATM Card
- Always protect your ATM card and keep it in a safe place, just like you would cash, credit cards or checks.
- Do not leave your ATM card lying around the house or on your desk at work. No one should have access to the card but you. Immediately notify your bank if it is lost or stolen.
- Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) a secret. Never write it down anywhere, especially on your ATM card.
- Never give any information about your ATM card or PIN over the telephone. For example, if you receive a call, supposedly from your bank or possibly the police, wanting to verify your PIN, do not give that information. Notify the police immediately.
Using an ATM
- Be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. If you observe or sense suspicious persons or circumstances, do not use the machine at that time.
- Have your ATM card ready and in your hand as you approach the ATM. Don't wait to get to the ATM and then take your card out of your wallet or purse.
- Visually inspect the ATM for possible skimming devices. Potential indicators can include sticky residue or evidence of an adhesive used by criminals to affix the device, scratches, damaged or crooked pieces, loose or extra attachments on the card slot, or noticeable resistance when pressing the keypad.
- Be careful that no one can see you enter your PIN at the ATM. Use your other hand or body to shield the ATM keyboard as you enter your PIN into the ATM.
- To keep your account information confidential, always take your receipts or transaction records with you.
- Do not count or visually display any money you received from the ATM. Immediately put your money into your pocket or purse and count it later.
- If you are using a drive-up ATM, be sure passenger windows are rolled up and all doors are locked. If you leave your car and walk to the ATM, lock your car.
Special Precautions for Using an ATM at Night
- Park close to the ATM in a well-lighted area.
- Take another person with you, if at all possible.
- If the lights at the ATM are not working, don't use it.
- If shrubbery has overgrown or a tree blocks the view, select another ATM and notify your bank.
Data Breach Tips
Banks are national leaders in preserving the security of customer data. The industry dedicates hundreds of millions of dollars annually to data security and adheres to strict regulatory and network requirements. The banking industry’s first priority is to protect consumers and make them whole.
In the event of a data breach:
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
- Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
- Beware of phishing scams. Never give out personal financial information in an email or over the phone unless you have initiated the contact.
- Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
If you suspect your identity has been stolen:
- Call your bank and credit card issuers immediately so they can start working on closing your accounts and clearing your name.
- File a police report and call the fraud unit of three credit-reporting companies.
- The fraud unit numbers are:
- TransUnion (800) 680-7289
- Experian (888) 397-3742
- Equifax (800) 525-6285
- Consider placing a victim statement in your credit report.
- Make sure to maintain a log of all the contacts you make with authorities regarding the matter. Write down names, titles, and phone numbers in case you need to re-contact them or refer to them in future correspondence.
Protect the Elderly from Financial Abuse
You, or someone you know, could become the victim of a growing crime in America — financial abuse of older Americans. Seniors are increasingly becoming targets for financial abuse. As people over 50 years old control over 70 percent of the nation's wealth, fraudsters are using new tactics to take advantage of retiring baby boomers and the growing number of older Americans. Senior financial abuse is estimated to have cost victims at least $2.9 billion last year alone.
What Is Elder Financial Abuse?
- It’s a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence. Anyone who sees signs of theft, fraud, misuse of a person’s assets or credit, or use of undue influence to gain control of an older person’s money or property should be on the alert. Those are signs of possible exploitation. Older Americans that may have disabilities or rely on others for help can be susceptible to scams and other fraud. Advances in technology can also make it difficult for seniors to know who to trust and what's safe.
- Despite these threats, taking simple steps to safeguard personal information and being aware of warning signs can protect aging men and women from financial abuse.
Tips for Seniors
What should you do to protect yourself?
- Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed. Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.
- Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.
- Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
- Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
- Never give personal information, including Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
- Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
- Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion.
- Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
- Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity related to your account.
- Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances.
- Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.
- Feel free to say “no.” After all, it’s your money.
- You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you think someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, call your local Adult Protective Services or tell someone at your bank.
- Trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers often are very skilled. They can be charming and forceful in their effort to convince you to give up control of your finances. Don’t be fooled—if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What should you do if you are a victim of financial abuse?
- Talk to a trusted family member who has your best interests at heart, or to your clergy.
- Talk to your attorney, doctor or an officer at your bank.
- Contact Adult Protective Services in your state or your local police for help.
Tips for Family and Friends
What are the warning signs of financial abuse?
- The key to spotting financial abuse is a change in a person’s established financial patterns. Watch out for these “red flags”:
- Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
- ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card.
- Changing from a basic account to one that offers more complicated services the customer does not fully understand or need.
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts the customer cannot explain.
- New “best friends” accompanying an older person to the bank.
- Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills.
- Closing CDs or accounts without regard to penalties.
- Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
- Suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery.
- Confusion, fear or lack of awareness on the part of an older customer.
- Refusal to make eye contact, shame or reluctance to talk about the problem.
- Checks written as “loans” or “gifts.”
- Bank statements that no longer go to the customer’s home.
- New powers of attorney the older person does not understand.
- A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation.
- Altered wills and trusts.
- Loss of property.
What should you do if you suspect financial abuse?
- Talk to elderly friends or loved ones if you see any of the signs mentioned here. Try to determine what specifically is happening with their financial situation, such as a new person “helping” them with money management, or a relative using cards or credit without their permission.
- Report the elder financial abuse to their bank, and enlist their banker’s help to stop it and prevent its recurrence.
- Contact Adult Protective Services in your town or state for help.
- Report all instances of elder financial abuse to your local police—if fraud is involved, they should investigate.
Protect Your Identity
Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. In 2019, identity fraud losses in the United States were estimated to be $16.9 billion. ABA recommends following these tips to keep your information – and your money – safe.
Don’t share your secrets.
- Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
Shred sensitive papers.
- Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
Keep an eye out for missing mail.
- Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
Use online banking to protect yourself.
- Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
Monitor your credit report.
- Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
Protect your computer.
- Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
Protect your mobile device.
- Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.
Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
What to do if you are a victim
- Call your bank and credit card issuers immediately so they can close your accounts.
- Contact the fraud unit of the three credit reporting agencies. Place a fraud alert on your credit report and consider placing a credit freeze so the criminal can’t open new accounts. The fraud unit numbers are:
- Equifax: (800) 525-6285
- Experian: (888) 397-3742
- TransUnion: (800) 680-7289
- Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).
- File a police report.
- Make sure to maintain a log of all the contacts you make with authorities regarding the matter. Write down names, titles and phone numbers in case you need to re-contact them or refer to them in future correspondence.
- For more advice, visit the FTC’s website
Protect Your Mobile Device
- Your mobile device provides convenient access to your email, bank and social media accounts. Unfortunately, it can potentially provide the same convenient access for criminals. The American Bankers Association recommends following these tips to keep your information — and your money — safe.
- Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
- Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
- Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions” and delete unused or rarely used apps.
- Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
- Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
- Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
- Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
- Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
- Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
- Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren't very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app.)
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
Protect Yourself Online
Although the internet has many advantages, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams. According to a 2018 Gallup Poll, one in four Americans has experienced cybercrime. The American Bankers Association recommends the following tips to keep you safe online:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Establish passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
- Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org — and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
- Recognize and avoid bogus website links. Cybercriminals embed malicious links to download malware onto devices and/or/ route users to bogus websites. Hover over suspicious links to view the actual URL that you are being routed to. Fraudulent links are often disguised by simple changes in the URL. For example: www.ABC-Bank.com vs ABC_Bank.com
- Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app.)
- Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
Protect Your Small Biz Account
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. The American Bankers Association recommends following these tips to keep your small business safe.
- Educate your employees. 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 protecting your company and customers.
- 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 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.
- Understand your responsibilities and liabilities. The account agreement with your bank will detail what commercially reasonable security measures are required in your business. It is critical that you understand and implement the security safeguards in the agreement. If you don’t, you could be liable for losses resulting from a takeover. Talk to your banker if you have any questions about your responsibilities.
Tips for Financial Caregivers
Financial caregivers play an important role in ensuring that all finances — from routine to complex — are managed wisely, helping their loved ones maintain the best quality of life possible.
Tips for Financial Caregivers
- Learn the rights and restrictions that apply to your role. Financial caregivers are fiduciaries with a duty to act and make decisions on their loved one’s behalf. Learn the legal implementations of your assigned authority in order to better facilitate your role.
- Manage money and other assets wisely. Financial caregivers are in charge of any daily, unexpected and future expense their loved one may incur. Due to fixed income or limited finances, it is extremely important that caregivers eliminate unnecessary costs and budget accordingly to ensure that all money is properly allocated.
- Recognize danger signs. Seniors have become major targets for financial abuse and fraud. Make sure to stay alert to signs of scams or identity theft that may put your loved one’s assets in peril.
- Keep careful records. When acting as a financial agent, proper documentation is not only encouraged but required. Make sure you keep well-organized financial records, including up-to-date lists of assets and debts and a streamline of all financial transactions.
- Stay informed. Be attuned to changes in financial ability and take appropriate action. Stay up to date on changes in the laws affecting seniors and implement accordingly.
- Seek professional advice. Consult a banker or other professional advisors when you’re not sure what to do.
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