Have you or someone you know ever been victim to someone stealing personal data and using it to open fraudulent credit card accounts, make charges on your existing credit cards, withdraw funds from your deposit accounts, or obtain loans? If so, you are not alone, as identity theft has become the most common consumer complaint in the U.S. and is no stranger to Garden State residents. In its most recent report on fraud, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ranked New Jersey 19 out of the 50 states when it comes to identity theft complaints.
The major data breaches that make national headlines are only one potential cause of identity theft, which on average costs each victim $2,200. To protect yourself against online or mobile identity theft, you need to carefully guard your personal information. Start with these tips:
- Do not share personal information over the phone or via the Internet unless you initiated the contact or know the person you are dealing with.
- Do not include easily identifiable information in PINs and passwords. Avoid using family surnames, birth dates, phone numbers, addresses, or the last four digits of your social security number.
- Review account statements thoroughly to ensure all transactions are authorized.
- Use an updated security program to protect your computer.
- Proceed with caution when it comes to public Wi-Fi. Taking advantage of free Wi-Fi — such as the high-speed public Wi-Fi network offered in downtown Englewood — is OK for certain online activities, but never use an unsecured Wi-Fi network when conducting financial transactions. Someone may be able to access the information you are viewing or transmitting.
Helpful Hint: Website addresses beginning with “https” and that display a “lock” icon in the status bar of your browser indicate that the site is encrypted and your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. If you do not see these two things, do not submit any personal or financial information to that site.
Have you ever received a bizarre e-mail from a stranger — or perhaps from the e-mail address of a neighbor right here in North Jersey — requesting that you wire money to them to aid in an emergency? If so, chances are you were part of an attempted scan. Hopefully you didn’t fall for it! This is just one of the numerous scams bestowed upon consumers every day, so it’s crucial to exercise caution with anything involving your personal and financial information. Avoid becoming a victim by following this advice:
- Be wary of any e-mail or text message that asks you to click on a link, even if it comes from a friend. Doing so may install malware (harmful software) that allows thieves to spy on your computer and gain access to your information.
- Be suspicious of any e-mail or phone requests to update or verify your personal information. Legitimate organizations will not solicit updates in any of these unsecured manners for information it already has on file.
- Be on guard against fraudulent checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or electronic fund transfers sent with requests for you to wire back part of the money.
- Do not fall prey to unsolicited offers that require you to act fast, pressure you to send funds quickly by wire transfer, or involve another party who insists on secrecy.
- Beware of post-disaster financial scams. Con artists leverage catastrophic events to take advantage of people by claiming to be from legitimate charitable organizations. In reality, they are attempting to steal money or valuable personal information.
Helpful Hint: Most banks, including NVE, let customers set up alerts to inform them of certain transactions. You can receive notifications if account activity is out of the norm. For example, if your balance dips below a certain amount, you will be alerted and can address any issues immediately.
A cautionary tale.
Believe it or not, 20- to 29-year-olds — a subset of millennials — are the highest reporting group for identity theft, making up 20% of complaints across all age brackets, according to a 2014 FTC study. Many of the ways members of this generation are making themselves vulnerable to bank fraud are addressed in the information above — especially sharing sensitive information online and using public Wi-Fi. Embracing technology and protecting personal and financial information should always go hand-in-hand.
Cyber and data security remain a priority issue for banks. As consumers and businesses continue to rely more heavily on electronic devices to bank and shop online, they need to be cognizant of potential vulnerabilities. NVE Bank is committed to serving and protecting our customers and their financial data. Learn more about the security precautions NVE Bank takes to protect its customers by clicking here. For more information, visit our website, stop by one of our 12 neighborhood branches, or call us at 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).