Shopping Safely Online
Online shopping has become a popular way to purchase items without the hassles of traffic and crowds. However, the internet has unique risks, so it is important to take steps to protect yourself when shopping online.
For more information please visit the US-CERT website.
Please contact us immediately and provide a description of the fraudulent activity and a telephone number where you can be reached during the day. You may email or call Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm at 907-228-4474 or toll free at 800-478-6101.
Firewalls and Spyware
A firewall is a barrier between the Internet and your computer that protects your computer from harmful attacks that linger out in the online land. Spyware is a bug that was downloaded on your computer with or without your consent. Spyware infections usually show up in the form of non-stop pop-ups, hijacked browser (where your browser takes you to other sites than the one you want), and slow performance of your computer.
For more details on firewalls and spyware, please visit onguardonline.gov.
We all know that passwords are a pain to remember, but in the long run, you will be happy that they are required. There are many malicious hackers out there in the world today and having a complicated password is just one step to making it even more difficult for them to get your personal information.
Some tips on protecting yourself with your passwords are:
- Make the password as long in length as you can.
- Use numbers and letters.
- If the form is case sensitive, make some characters upper case and some lower case.
- Do not use generic passwords such as the word password, 123456789, any part of your name, address, birthday, phone number.
- Try to make the password at least seven (7) characters in length
- Any additional password characters such as * is more complicated to figure out.
- Never give out your password to anyone (not even to the bank).
- Do not write your passwords down to where someone could easily see them. Hide them in a safe spot or get a program on your computer to store them.
Need help determining how good your password is? Try Microsoft's password checker here.
Phishing and Pharming
Phishing is a scam that is used mainly through emails in which they are trying to offer something that seems too good to be true. In the emails, there is usually a link that you "need" to click on to claim a prize or whatever they are offering. Once the link is clicked, the new site that comes up will prompt for verification your personal information. Once personal information is entered, the scammers behind the phishing email will then use the sensitive information for financial gain.
Pharming is the practice of hijacking a web site where a bank customer will input their sensitive information such as login credentials and bank account information. The hijacker will then use the sensitive information for financial gain.
For more information on phishing and pharming, please visit onguardonline.gov.
What is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a complex mathematical model that evaluates many types of information in a credit file. A credit score is used by a lender to help determine whether a person qualifies for a particular credit card, loan, or service. Most credit scores estimate the risk a company incurs by lending a person money or providing them with a service—specifically, the likelihood that the person will make payments on time in the next two to three years. Generally, the higher the score, the less risk the person represents.
Why do I need to monitor my credit?
There are several good reasons to monitor your credit reports and score:
- It can help you to reduce losses if you are a victim of identity theft. If you notice some inquiries or open accounts that you do not know anything about, it could be a sign that someone else is using your identity to receive goods and services. Chances are that they are not planning to pay the bills, so be sure to contact the companies and find out how to stop the service immediately.
- It is a good way to make sure that your credit history is reported accurately. If it is not accurate, you can go back to the responsible companies and ask them to fix it for you.
- It is good to have an idea of where you stand before applying for loans or credit cards. If you are thinking about buying a house, you might decide to take six months to get your score up before applying for a loan. Taking time and improving your credit score could help you to get a better interest rate, which saves you money!
How do I monitor my credit reports and score?
You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus each year. Request your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Your credit score will not be included in your free credit report. If you would like to see your credit score as well, you can request it with your credit report, but there is a fee for this service.
Where can I find out about repairing my credit score?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information on who to contact about credit score reporting.
Account Monitoring with Online Banking
Account monitoring with First Bank's Online Banking is available for personal or business accounts.
Checking your account activity is a great way to protect your identity. When you log into online banking regularly and monitor your account activity, you are more likely to notice fraudulent transactions sooner than waiting for your statement. The earlier you notice unusual activity and report it, the less damage can be done to your accounts and your identity.