While First Midwest Bank has systems and policies in place to protect your financial information from unauthorized access and disclosure, most identity thieves obtain information through other means, including mail theft, telephone solicitations, and email scams that ask for personal information.
First Midwest Bank will never ask for sensitive financial or personal information, such as account numbers, passwords and Social Security numbers, in an e-mail message. Unsolicited "spoof" e-mails requesting such information are a typical ploy in "phishing" — fraudulent techniques used by online impostors to "fish" for, or lure you into supplying, financial account credentials and personal information.
While no one can ever be totally safe from identity theft, we want to make you aware of a few proactive, simple measures you can take that can help you from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Financial account credentials, passwords, Social Security numbers and other personal information are sought by thieves to commit identity theft, which can damage your credit and cost you countless hours and dollars in the effort to restore your good name.
You can minimize your risk of identity theft by observing the following tips, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission, and you can learn more about each of these tips at the FTC Identity Theft Web Site: Deter, Detect, Defend.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary, and ask to use other types of identifiers.
- Treat your trash and mail carefully. Always shred documents you discard that may contain sensitive financial or personal information, including credit offers you receive in the mail. To opt out of prescreened credit offers, call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). Deposit outgoing mail containing personally identifying information in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox, and promptly remove mail from your mailbox.
- Be on guard when using the Internet. Beware “spoof” e-mail and “phishing.”
- Select intricate passwords for log-in to financial and personal information online. Use at least eight characters, both uppercase and lowercase letters, one or more numerals and one or more symbols.
- Change your password often. Do not share it with others, and do not record it in an easy-to-find place.
- Verify sources before sharing information. Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact and are sure you know who you're dealing with.
- Safeguard your purse and wallet. Protect your purse and wallet at all times. Don't carry your Social Security number or card; leave it in a secure place. Carry only the identification information and the credit and debit cards that you'll actually need when you go out.
- Store your personal information in secure locations. Keep your personal information in a secure place at home and work.
- Review your credit reports at least once a year to check for errors and fraud, and review your credit before using credit to buy a home or car, or to make other large purchases.
- Pay attention to billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if bills do not arrive on time.
- Promptly and carefully review your account statements such as bank statements, credit card statements, as well as mobile phone and home telephone bills for unauthorized charges or activity. Regularly check your statements and account activity online to spot questionable transactions.
Worms, viruses and spyware that appear on the Internet carry a variety of problems. Some have the capability to install software on an end user's computer, seeking Internet banking or financial data with the intent of communicating the data back to the attacker.
A financial institution or a service provider cannot prevent these items from being sent out and infecting people's computers. What we can do is ensure that our systems are virus-free, properly patched and that our users are knowledgeable of the risks.
The following are tips to help protect your computer and information:
- Prevent the unauthorized use of your computer by requiring a log-in password at start-up. To create a strong password, use at least eight characters, both uppercase and lowercase letters, one or more numerals and one or more symbols.
- Change your password often. Do not share it with others, and do not record it in an easy-to-find place.
- Log off or lock your computer if you must step away from it while working, and log off, lock or shut down at the end of a work session or end of the day.
- Do not leave your laptop or notebook computer where it can be easily removed.
- Ensure that you have a firewall, system security software, anti-virus software, and spyware-detection software installed on your computer — and keep it up-to-date.
- Use only software from reliable vendors. Shareware, freeware and trial-use programs may install unwanted adware or spyware on your computer.
- Make sure the computer(s) you use have current software security patches and anti-virus software installed and updated with the latest definitions.
- Wireless access should be secured with strong password encryption.
Be wary of e-mail from senders you don’t know, do not open attachments in an unsolicited e-mail. When in doubt, delete the mail without opening it.
If you receive an e-mail message that warns you with little or no notice that your financial account will be shut down unless you confirm your financial or personal information, do not respond to or comply with the request.
Be aware that e-mail “spoofing” — the forgery of an e-mail header so that the message appears to come from someone other than the actual source — is an often-used technique of online impostors. Unsolicited “spoof” e-mails requesting your financial account credentials or personal information are a typical ploy in “phishing” — fraudulent techniques used by these impostors to “fish” for, or lure you into supplying, such information.
If you receive an e-mail message claiming to be from a company and you are uncertain about its authenticity, contact the company using a telephone number or web site address you know to be genuine.
“Phishing” is a fraudulent technique used by online impostors to “fish” for, or lure you into supplying, your financial account credentials or personal information.
Be suspicious of unsolicited email from a "business" that asks for your password, Social Security number, or highly sensitive information. Legitimate businesses do not ask for this type of information over the Internet. Contact the business directly to verify the authenticity of the email. Do not reply to or click on any links or pictures in unsolicited emails, especially those asking for personal information.
Typically, a phishing scam begins with the delivery of an unsolicited “spoof” e-mail message claiming to be from a bank or online merchant, with a subject line such as “Important Security Issue,” “Account Verification Required” or “Update Account.” The message directs you to a web page and asks you to enter your bank account or credit card account number, account password, Social Security number or other information to verify your identity. However, the web page is not actually associated with the bank or online merchant — it’s on a counterfeit replica site.
Occasionally, a spoof e-mail message may ask that you download a file attachment — a tactic to plant a computer virus, spyware or other software on your computer to collect financial account credentials or personal information.
Victims of identity theft often don't learn of the theft until after the fact. By that time, substantial damage may have been done and the work necessary to repair the damage done to your financial reputation and credit rating can take years and cost thousands of dollars.
If you suspect that someone has been using your personal information:
- Notify law enforcement immediately.
- Call us at (573) 785-8461 to block all lost or stolen cards, checks and account information.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus.
- Contact the creditors of any accounts that have been misused.
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission web site has information for consumers and businesses on how to Deter, Detect, and Defend against identity theft. The website also includes details on how an active duty military person can place an "Active Duty Alert" on their credit report and how you may file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Visit their website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
Anti-Phishing Working Group
You can find consumer advice on how to avoid phishing scams, what to do if you have given out your personal financial information, how to report phishing and also browse the phishing archives.
Visit their website: http://www.Antiphishing.org
The Federal Bureau of Investigations website has many features which include the "Be Crime Smart" section on e-scams, warnings, reporting internet crime, common fraud schemes and other tips and suggestions.
Visit their website: http://www.fbi.gov
Internet Identity Theft and Fraud
Through a joint effort from the IRS, the Office of Justice Programs and Information Assurance Support Environment this site is available. The following site gives information about avoiding scams, shopping smart online and through phone applications, protecting kids online, and securing your personal computer.
Visit their website: www.onguardonline.gov/
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
The FDIC’s Consumer News page has great tips on how to prevent and react to the threat of identity theft.
Visit their website: http://fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnsum13/
How to Spot a Fake Check
The National Consumers League has the following site dedicated to helping consumers spot fake checks. This is a great resource for those who are just learning about checks as well as those who have been writing checks for years.
Visit their website: www.fakechecks.org
You are allowed one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You may request this report through the Annual Credit Report website: www.AnnualCreditReport.com
Note: By notifying one agency of fraudulent activity, you will notify all three.
Request a credit report: (800) 685-1111 Option 4
Reporting Fraud: (800) 525-6285
Request a credit report: (888) 397-3742
Reporting Fraud: (888) 397-3742
Request a credit Report: (800) 916-8800
Reporting Fraud: (800) 680-7289