With the holiday season upon us, the threat of fraud increases every day. We know you are busy but it is important to stay on top of things even while you are celebrating and searching for the perfect gifts.
One problem we face today is that fraud comes from so many different sources and comes in many forms. Whether it is online, over the phone or in-person, you can take steps to reduce your risk.
When shopping in a store, carry only the cards you intend to use, never leave your purse or wallet unattended and know where your card is at all times, even when the cashier has it. Also, be sure that others are not capturing your PIN number when performing PIN transactions.
When paper checks are converted to an Automated Clearing House or ACH at a merchant, store voided checks safely to prevent counterfeit checks or unauthorized ACH transactions.
When using an ATM, inspect the area around the card reader area for any tampering, tape, glue or other evidence of a card skimmer. A skimmer is an electronic device that is installed over the normal card reading slot of an ATM to record data from the magnetic strip on the back of your card. This device is often accompanied by a hidden camera that records your PIN. Pay attention to what the card reader and keypad normally look like on the ATMS you frequent and don’t use an ATM if the card reader fits poorly, is loose or appears to be added on.
In the cyber world, it is important to protect your personal information and your computer. That means keeping updated anti-virus software on your computer and being smart about how and where you share your information.
Shop online with trusted merchants and look for the https: to indicate that the page is encrypted. Use strong passwords that consist of a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters for all online accounts. Did you know that “123456” and “password” are the two most common passwords in the world? Avoid these as well as passwords that contain personal information that is easy to find in your social media profile. While it may be inconvenient, change your passwords regularly as well.
Also be suspicious of emails or Facebook messages from people you don’t know. Don’t open the email or click on any links within the message. If you are like most Americans you keep a lot of personal data stored on your smart phone or tablet. Prevent that information from falling into the wrong hands by locking your mobile devices with a password. Some devices also come with apps that allow you to track and even erase data from missing devices.
And while it may be low tech, do not underestimate the power of the telephone for criminals. People posing as debt collectors, those making charity requests or even government representatives can be very convincing over the phone. If someone calls, attempt to confirm that they are legitimate by requesting their name, address, phone number and other relevant information. If they claim to represent a well-known organization like the IRS or VCNB, hang up and call the organization’s published phone number. If you suspect fraud is involved, contact local law enforcement.
Criminals will commonly ask for personal information to help you claim a prize. Remember if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also remember that VCNB will never request personal information over the phone or online. Never give out account information, your PIN, Social Security number or other important data.
Finally, be sure to regularly keep track of receipts and transactions. Keep and read receipts to ensure they reflect the correct transaction amount. And review your accounts in some way regularly. At VCNB, you can set up Account Alerts so that you receive a text message or email each time a transaction posts. You can also call our Telebanc line at 1-800-317-5990, check balances online at www.vintoncountybank.com or call Customer Service at 1-800-542-5004.
Monitoring your credit report regularly is another effective way to identify problems.
If you think your VCNB account has been compromised, contact your local branch or Customer Service immediately. If you call outside of business hours, there is an option in the phone menu to report a lost or stolen card. Choose this option to protect your card and yourself from damages and then contact Customer Service during business hours.