Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft is an increasing problem as more personal information is stored online. It's unfortunate, but there are phishers and identity thieves out in the online world and it's important to understand how to protect yourself from falling victim to their tricks. North Country Savings Bank takes security seriously, and you should too. Follow these steps to help protect your personal data online and check out our Ultimate Guide to Identity Theft Protection Online & Offline for even more information.
How to Avoid Identity Theft Online
Secure Your Passwords
- Create strong passwords that are complex and longer than six characters.
- Include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (!, @, #, $, etc.).
- Create a phrase to help you remember your password. For example, "My dog Rex" can help you remember the password Myd0gRe%.
- Use a different password for each online account and change them at least every 90 days.
- Never save passwords in a file on your computer or on a sticky note stuck to your desk or computer.
Secure Your Computer
- Maintain active, up-to-date antivirus, spyware, and firewall protection: Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG both offer free antivirus protection.
- Keep your operating system (Windows 10, for example) browser (Google Chrome, Firefox) and applications (such as Adobe Reader or iTunes) up to date.
- Exercise caution when using a public computer (airports, coffee shops, etc.), and be conscious of theft and people looking over your shoulder for usernames and passwords.
- Only download items and programs from trusted sites, and always scan files for viruses first.
- Be sure to backup important files frequently and store them in a safe place.
Secure your Email
- Never open attachments unless the sender explicitly notified you that they were sending one.
- Do not open spam messages and promptly delete them.
- Never click on a link in a spam message, even the unsubscribe link.
- If any company is asking for non-public personal information (account numbers, passwords, usernames, social security numbers, date of births, etc.) call the company at their listed number listed on their website and do not use the phone number provided in the email.
Elder Fraud is on the Rise
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study done by Comparitech.com found that Elder Fraud was actually on the rise and that seniors were being scammed for bogus COVID-19-related products, such as vaccines and air filters. This isn't the only kind of fraud happening. According to FBI.gov, the most common types of Elder Fraud are:
- Romance scam: Scammers pose as potential romantic partners on social media or dating websites to take advantage of the desire to find companionship. According to the Federal Trade Commission, from 2016 to 2020, reported total dollar losses increased more than fourfold, and the number of reports nearly tripled.
- Tech support scam: Scammers pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues. The scammers gain remote access to victims' devices and sensitive information.
- Grandparent scam: This involves posing as a relative—usually a child or grandchild— and claiming to be in immediate financial need.
- Government impersonation scam: Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.
- Sweepstakes/charity/lottery scam: Criminals claim to work for legitimate charitable organizations to gain victims' trust. Or they claim their targets have won a foreign lottery or sweepstake, which they can collect for a "fee."
- Home repair scam: Criminals appear in person and charge homeowners in advance for home improvement services that they never provide.
- TV/radio scam: Criminals target potential victims using illegitimate advertisements about legitimate services, such as reverse mortgages or credit repair.
- Family/caregiver scam: Relatives or acquaintances of the elderly victims take advantage of them or otherwise get their money.
So how can you protect yourself and your loved ones from these savvy scammers?
- Reset your passwords.
- Alert your financial institution immediately if you think there's been a scam.
- If you feel threatened, call the police.
- If you've transferred money, report it to the police.
Also, be aware that North Country Savings Bank will never ask for any of the following information on the phone or via email:
- Account numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Date of births
- Any other non-public personal information via email
If you ever receive an email or unsolicited phone call requesting this type of information DO NOT provide it and contact us immediately at (800) 356-7709. Provide us with as much information as possible so we can properly warn other customers.
Be proactive by checking your bank statements regularly and taking note of any unauthorized transactions. Our team is here to help you.