Most of us have heard of identity theft. That is when your personal information, such as your Social Security number or your bank account numbers, are stolen and used by a thief to commit fraud or theft. Certainly this kind of activity can potentially damage your credit record or your reputation.
Phishing or spoofing
Phishing, pronounced “fishing,” is when fraudsters on the Internet impersonate businesses to trick you into giving them personal or confidential information. Also referred to as “spoofing,” phishing takes the form of a fake message, most often an email but sometimes a text or pop-up message, which appears to be from a financial institution or service provider.
Beware that the message often appears “official,” including the company name, logo and even a link to a website which instructs you to update your account information by providing details such as a Social Security number, bank account number, PIN or password. Some phishing instructs a user to call an 800-number to verify account information instead of visiting a website.
There may even be a “dire warning” that you must take action immediately because, for instance, your account has to be verified or there has been an “unauthorized transaction on your account.”
What you should know is that you should NEVER validate or confirm personal information by responding to an email, opening a link or email attachment or calling an 800 number included in such a link or email attachment. Optima Bank will never contact you by email requesting this type of confidential information.
In fact, should you receive such an inquiry, please contact us immediately at 603-433-9600.
Malware is short for “malicious software.” It includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer without your consent. These programs can cause harm or loss to the system or its data or be used as a platform to attack other computers. Malware may be installed unintentionally by clicking on a button or pop-up window or visiting a malicious website. Malware can be used by criminals to steal personal information, send spam and commit fraud.
A keylogger is a computer program that actually logs each keystroke a user types on a keyboard and then saves the data into a file before transferring it via the Internet to a pre-determined remote host. A keylogger also can capture screenshots of user activity and log-in passwords or even record online chats to gather information. Often downloaded inadvertently by clicking on links in fraudulent emails, keyloggers likely pose the most serious threat to user privacy.
Trojan Horse programs
Trojan Horse programs, including Remote Access Trojans or RATS, may be hidden in games, videos, music files or programs downloaded from the Internet or in an email that then install a malicious program on your computer. Download and install software only from websites you know and trust. Although many anti-virus programs are able to detect and remove Trojan Horse programs, they must be updated regularly to be effective.
How user name and passwords are compromised
Accounts may be compromised by responding to a phishing email, by a keylogger or because of a Trojan Horse virus that was installed on your computer through a fraudulent email. It also may be possibly compromised by someone with whom you may have shared your user name and password.
The best ways to prevent having your information compromised:
- Installing anti-virus software on your computer that updates automatically.
- Deleting email and text messages asking you to confirm or provide personal information.
- Being cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them.
- Never sharing your user name and password.
How to protect security and privacy
Everyone must do their part to ensure the security of your information and protect your privacy.
That means keeping your password secure. Not only should you keep it private, you should not store it on your mobile device or write in on paper that you carry with you.
Keeping your computer up to date is also important. Most software vendors release browser or operating security patches regularly. Therefore, it’s essential that periodic maintenance be done to ensure system security.
For more information about security, as well as on identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site at www.onguardonline.gov and the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft site at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft