Electronic services like online banking, e-bill pay, e-statements, mobile banking apps, and mobile deposits have made it more convenient than ever to manage your finances. However, you must take precautions to protect yourself from risk whenever you use the Internet to transmit personal financial information.
Technology savvy hackers have developed ways to steal information they can use to access your bank account. The best defense against these modern scammers is to be educated and aware of the ways you can protect yourself online. This blog contains tips to help you manage all the benefits of online and mobile banking without becoming a victim.
Keep passwords secure and private
Your account security is only as good as the strength of your password. Come up with a password that no one is likely to guess. One creative method is to think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. It’s also a good idea to substitute numbers for some words and use a combination of lower and uppercase letters. For example, “I want to plan a tropical getaway” could become IW2paTG.
Use caution on public Wi-Fi networks
It’s great that your local coffee shop offers free Wi-Fi, but that shared network provides an unsecured connection to the Internet. Avoid managing your checking account or shopping while sipping a latte and stick to visiting websites that don't require personal or financial information. Even logging onto a social media site can expose your private information to the hacker using the same unsecured connection.
Check to see if the website is secure
Look for the "https" at the beginning of the web address and a “lock” icon on the status bar of your browser before you send personal or financial information online. This icon indicates that the website is encrypted and your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. If a website doesn't display the locked padlock do not use it to transmit sensitive information!
Don’t send sensitive documents over unsecure email
Email may seem private, but even if you have an email account that uploads attachments over a secure HTTPS connection, like Gmail, you have no control over the recipient’s server. They may download your attachments from an unencrypted HTTP connection. Or even worse, on a public Wi-Fi network. Because of this you should never email credit card numbers, passwords, or other private information.
If you need to share documents electronically with your accountant or financial advisor, for example, use an encrypted file-sharing service. He/she can set up a secure shared folder and anything you put in that folder will travel encrypted from you to your advisor. A password will be given to you in a separate email to access the folder in which your financial documents are uploaded.
Businesses frequently ask for your Social Security number (SSN) to check your credit when applying for a loan, renting an apartment, or signing up for utility service. Your employer and financial institutions also need your SSN for wage and tax reporting purposes. You may wish to keep a close hold on your SSN, but if you must provide it ask these questions before you decide to share this sensitive information.
- Why is it needed?
- How will it be used?
- How will it be protected?
- What happens if you decide not to share the number?
Dispose of personal information safely
Before you recycle, resell, gift or dispose of a computer or mobile device, erase all of the personal information that is stored on it. A wipe utility program will overwrite the entire hard drive of your personal computer or laptop.
When it comes to your smartphone, check the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently. Remove the SIM card from the device and erase data like your contacts, voicemails, text messages, web search history, and apps – especially any banking apps installed. For more information on how to protect your identity on smartphones and social media visit this blog post.
What our customers should know about Lakeland Bank
We remind you to use caution when responding to any email, text or phone call requesting that your personal information be updated, especially when a link to a site is included in the message. Lakeland Bank will never request your personal information via these methods, and we remind our customers to use some common techniques to identify ‘phishing’ attempts, including:
- A message from an unknown name, and/or email address or phone number.
- An awkwardly worded email as many scams originate from outside the U.S.
- A link provided that directs you to an inconsistent website address.
- An email or website that requests information contradictory to the service provided (such as providing a credit card when not making a purchase).
- The appearance of an email or website that is inconsistent with the authentic website format.
If you are concerned that a message is not legitimate, you should call for clarification. But never call the number listed in the message! Call a number you know to be legitimate. Our Customer Service Team can be reached at 866-224-1379.
Protecting your personal information will reduce your risk of financial identity theft. The four main ways to accomplish this are: know who you share information with; store and dispose of your personal information securely; ask questions before deciding to share your personal information; and maintain appropriate security on your computers and other electronic devices.