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Strategies to Protect Your Identity

Protect your identity, your accounts and your devices.

Access to new technology and a variety of internet devices allows each of us the unprecedented ease to visit the online world. The speed and convenience to buy goods; download apps, music and movies; research topics; send messages; and much more is becoming part of daily life. However, there can be a real downside – the ever-present threat posed by cyber-criminals intent on stealing your identity, hijacking your accounts and committing fraud.

Consumer targeting: A continuing threat

Over the past several years, data breach computer attacks have been directed at retailers, healthcare provider systems and insurance companies, among others, for the sole purpose of raiding their proprietary files and stealing their customers’ personal information. These cyber-crimes have resulted in millions of records being stolen and then repurposed for criminal use or sold to the highest bidder.

The stolen data is then coupled with the already existing tools of the cyber-criminal trade: targeted phishing, texting, pop-up windows, downloads, and spyware now can contain some bits of personal information. These are the methods designed to trick you into confirming personal financial information and unwittingly revealing your user IDs and passwords.

Fraud prevention: A security partnership

Law enforcement officials have joined with financial institutions to combat these criminals on all fronts. Merchants Bank of Indiana has already made substantial investments in training personnel, upgrading to the latest technology and enhancing security infrastructure with the single goal of protecting your accounts and your personal information. But more teamwork is needed!

Personal diligence is the first line of defense – help safeguard and protect your identity and accounts from theft and fraud by following some basic strategies. Use these precautions in your everyday life, and practice integrated security.

Identity theft protection – The dos and don’ts

  • Do not reveal any personal information online, unless you are positive about the source and the reason.
  • Don’t share your user IDs and passwords with anyone and don’t store them on your computer.
  • Do be suspicious of any phone caller asking you to provide financial account or credit card account numbers. Merchants Bank of Indiana will never ask you to verify any personal information – we already have it.

Online device protection – A necessary step

  • Update your personal anti-virus software regularly on all your devices that allow internet access. Also install anti-spyware and malware protection programs on your computer, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
  • Passwords should be strong and changed regularly. Security experts advise a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Always sign off and log out properly – follow secured area exit procedures.

Financial account protection – Early detection

  • Review your financial accounts often. If something seems unusual, notify the bank immediately.
  • Monitor your credit card accounts closely and report any suspicious activity to your card provider without delay.
  • You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. That means you can check for free every four months. Order your Free Credit Report at 1-877-322-8228 or annualcreditreport.com

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