Consumer Safety Tips
The Pennsylvania Bankers Association is working for consumers to ensure your financial information is protected at all times. Check out the tips below to help you safeguard your bank account, identity and credit card.
10 tips to safeguard your financial information online:
- “Snack on your balance” – check your account at least once a day so you notice suspicious activity faster.
- Report any suspicious purchases ASAP.
- Change your online banking password regularly.
- Use passwords that combine letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Never share your username and password.
- Avoid doing online banking or shopping over public wi-fi.
- When shopping online, use reputable merchants and make sure the webpage payment screen begins with “https” and has the tiny padlock symbol at the bottom of the page.
- Don’t open emails that appear suspicious – especially if the message contains links to websites.
- Always log out of your online banking website when you’re done.
- Lock your computer or your smartphone when you’re not using it.
Learn how to protect yourself against identity theft.
PA Bankers is offering the following eight tips to help consumers proactively protect their information from the threat of identity theft:
- Do not share your private information online or over the phone, including your Social Security number, account information, PINs and passwords. Be sure to use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters for your passwords, and change them periodically.
- Shred sensitive papers, such as receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers, before throwing them away.
- Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen.
- “Snack” on your balance. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
- Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Protect your computer. Make sure that the virus protection software on your computer is active and up-to-date. Additionally, when conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active and look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure that the website is secure.
- Protect your mobile device by using the passcode lock and/or fingerprint access on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Also, use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware, and avoid opening links and attachments – especially from senders who you do not know.
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
Additional resources include:
- The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office offers this toolkit.
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Consumer Information
- Federal Reserve Consumer Information
- View the information you need to know about Credit Reports and Credit Scores, Identity Theft and Mortgage Foreclosure.
Card Skimming/ATM Safety
There are several things you can do to improve the safety of your debit and credit card transactions. Listen to the 7/27/17 SmartTalk radio show about card skimming, featuring the Pennsylvania Bankers Association.
10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Card Skimmers & Improve the Safety of Your Transactions:
- BE ALERT: Check your surroundings when conducting a transaction, and where possible, avoid ATMs or gas pumps in low-traffic areas, as well as those that are not well-lit or are out of sight of store or bank employees.
- LOOK: When using an ATM, look closely at the machine and if anything seems off (i.e., the card slot is usually lit up, but is not), report it immediately to the bank.
- FEEL: Touch everything on the ATM and make sure it's in place. If anything wiggles or moves, report it immediately to the bank for further investigation.
- Use an EMV chip-enabled card at a chip-enabled payment terminal whenever possible to provide an added level of security for your card.
- Use your opposite hand to shield your hand as you type in your PIN at the ATM. This will prevent any unauthorized cameras from capturing your PIN.
- Never supply your PIN to anyone you don't know.
- Keep an eye on your account for any unusual transactions.
- Many banks have real-time monitoring with automatic fraud alerts, which you can elect to receive via text message, email, etc.
- If you find a skimmer, report it to the local law enforcement agency immediately.
- When possible, do your transactions inside (i.e., pay the clerk at the gas station, use an ATM inside the bank).
Learn how to protect your money when traveling with these travel tips from the State Department, and these 15 Ways to Protect Your Money on Vacation from Bankrate.com.