A Guide to Banking Identity Theft Prevention | Avoid the 5 Danger Zones

Being a victim of identity theft can be a harrowing experience. It can cause financial hardship and emotional distress. That's why it's important to take the steps for identity theft prevention. At Farmers Bank, one of our top priorities is helping our customers stay safe by providing them with information and strategies for identity theft prevention. This guide will help you understand the five main danger zones of identity theft and provide tips on how to protect yourself from each one.

The Five Danger Zones

#1: Email

One of the most common ways cybercriminals gain access to your personal information is by sending malicious emails, also known as "phishing" emails. These emails may appear to be from a legitimate company and may contain links or attachments that can install malware on your computer. Often they will look very real; that's why there are a few clues to look for when you get these types of emails.

First, are they requesting that you verify an account or information for an account? If so, this should immediately put you on alert. If they tell you to click a link or call a number to confirm this account, do not click on any links. This will immediately begin to install malware onto your computer and begin searching for personal information. Finally, if the email makes a threat, such as "we will terminate your account if you don't verify this" or says you can "claim a prize," it is likely a scam.

Consider the emails you receive from Google that update you about a sign-in on a new device. In these emails, if it was you, then they tell you to ignore their message. This is different from emails from cybercriminals who will insist you click the link and even try to scare you if you do not. It is important to be aware of these types of scams for identity theft prevention.


#2: Internet

The internet is another place where cybercriminals can gain access to your information. It is important to be aware of the websites you visit and what you download from them. Malware can also be installed on your computer by downloading a malicious file or program, even if it appears to be legitimate.

For identity theft prevention in these cases, be cautious of sites that require you to enter personal information, and only use trusted sites. Make sure you can see a lock icon in the top left-hand corner to show the site is secure. Also, make sure the site begins with "https://." If you click on a link and your computer comes up with a warning that the site may not be secure, do not continue to the site. Do not share or write any of your passwords for your online accounts.


#3: Telephone

Luckily, many phone services now provide you with "Scam Likely" for the caller ID on unknown calls or phone numbers associated with scams. However, this does not mean that scam calls are completely eliminated. Be aware of unsolicited calls where you are asked to enter your personal information or ask for money. Never give out credit card numbers or other financial information over the phone, and only do business with companies you know and trust.

If a caller is trying to pressure you into providing information, it is likely a scam. Also, hang up the call if the caller will not give you the name of their company or if they ask for personal information that they should already have.


#4: Payments

It is important to be mindful of the payment methods you use. A cybercriminal can steal your payment information through skimming. Skimming is when the criminal uses a device to copy your payment information from the card's magnetic strip and then uses that information to make fraudulent purchases. Unfortunately, devices such as these can be placed in many of the point of sale (POS) terminals we use daily, such as gas station pumps and ATM machines.

A great tip for identity theft prevention is to always be sure to use a secure payment platform, such as PayPal or Apple Pay. These platforms are encrypted and protect your information from being stolen. Further, it would be wise to regularly check your bank statements to ensure there are no unauthorized purchases. If you are unsure if an online business is authentic, you can verify this with the Better Business Bureau.


#5: Home

While our home should be our safe haven, no place is sacred to an identity thief. Your mailbox and your trash are the main sources of which a thief could get hold of your personal information. For example, your mail will have account numbers, credit card statements, bills, etc., that an identity thief can take advantage of. If you then throw any of this information away without shredding it, it can be rummaged through and taken.

Therefore, it is important to use a locked mailbox or check your mail daily and shred any document or mail containing personal information before you throw them away.

Taking the right steps and being mindful of potential risks can aid you in identity theft prevention against cybercriminals. Farmers Bank is committed to providing our customers with secure transactions and fraud prevention to ensure your safety. Please be aware of and utilize our resources for identity theft prevention.

What To Do If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

If you do become a victim of identity theft, it is important to act quickly and take the right steps to protect yourself. Here are a few tips on what to do if your identity has been stolen:

  • Contact Farmers Bank and any companies or financial institutions that have been impacted immediately and inform them of the situation. This will help limit the potential damage that can be done.
  • File a police report with the Federal Trade Commission, and make sure to keep a copy of the report for your records.
  • Put a fraud alert on your accounts with each of the three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). This will assist in preventing further problems.
  • Farmers Bank also provides an Identity Theft Repair Kit that you can download and use to assist you in restoring your identity.

Taking action quickly and following the steps outlined above can help restore your identity and protect yourself from further damage. Farmers Bank is here to support you every step of the way. If you have any questions or need assistance with restoring your identity, we have resources to assist you in getting back on track.