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Keeping Yourself Safe from Identity Theft

Chances are you get online multiple times every day, whether it’s from a desktop or laptop computer, tablet or phone. During the hundreds of hours you spend online every year, you are constantly at risk for unknowingly giving criminals access to your personal information.

There are on average 11.5 MILLION cases of identity theft reported per year in the United States, so Alpine Bank collected these tips to help make sure you don’t become a statistic:

  • Basics- ensure the browser you browse the web with uses standard 128-bit encryption. You should also have anti-virus and malware detection software installed on your computer than can be updated.
  • Shred any papers with confidential information before you throw them out, including junk mail. Anything with an account number can be used in identity theft. This includes prescreened credit card offers, receipts, canceled checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, doctors' bills, and insurance documents. At Alpine Bank, two free Community Shred Days are held each year - one in the spring and one in the fall. Check our “What’s the word at Alpine Bank” area to see when the next Community Shred Day will be held.
  • Pop-ups, banners, links- create a habit of not clicking on pop-ups and banners. If a link seems questionable, hover your cursor over it. If the address that appears in the lower left-hand corner looks strange or has nothing to do with the link, DO NOT click it as it is most likely a phishing attempt to get your information.
  • Cache and cookies- clear the cache and cookies of your web browser on your computer, tablet or smart phone regularly. If you need help with this, you can easily find directions in a simple web search.
  • Passwords and usernames- change these regularly for online banking, mobile banking or any other sites you log in to for financial transactions.
  • Online shopping- before entering in any payment or personal information, look for two things: that the web address starts with “https” and a padlock symbol at bottom or top of the browser window. Also, don’t interrupt your online session when completing a transaction by clicking on other site, and always remember to logout when you are finished.
  • Public Wi-Fi- while it is convenient, it can also be used be hackers to access your information. Never use public wi-fi for online shopping, online banking, mobile banking or other online transactions.
  • Email- delete suspicious emails. There are many ways to identify phishing attempts in your inbox, but some of the sure signs include: an email that is not a reply to something your sent or requested, sent at a weird time or to a random recipient list, a strange subject line, lots of grammatical errors and emails that are only a link. See more ways to spot phishing emails here.

How to Report Identity Theft

Follow these steps if you believe your identity has been stolen:

  1. Report the fraud to , credit card companies, mortgage company or any other creditors.
  2. Place a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting the three credit companies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
  3. Call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271to file a report
  4. File a police report
  5. Alert the Federal Trade Commission: 877-438-4338
  6. Be sure to record the names of everyone you talk to and follow up within 24 hours.