Identity Theft Tips & Resources
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission to do things like open credit cards or other loans in your name, steal bank account information, file taxes or even file health insurance claims under your name. It is a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your finances, credit history, and reputation – and it can take time, money, and patience to resolve. As your community bank, we know that having the right tools available to help you protect your identity is important. We have many tips, resources and providers available to help you protect your identity and guide you if your identity is actually stolen.
What to do if Your Identity is Stolen
This packet, put out by the Federal Trade Commission, has all of the information, step by step instructions, and contact information to help get you back on track after your identity has been stolen. What to do if your identity is stolen.
- Retrieve mail promptly; send bills and other sensitive documents from a secure mailbox.
- Shred private documents: receipts, applications, bank statements, etc. Sign up for online statements to prevent theft of paper documents.
- Review your credit report at least once a year. Monitor your credit activity and alert the reporting agencies of any suspicious activity or significant changes to your credit score.
- Keep all your information up-to-date with Home Bank of California. This includes your current phone numbers, mailing address, and email addresses.
Online Security Tips
- Do not use your Social Security number as your username and/or password.
- Change your usernames and passwords regularly and use combinations of letters (capital and lower case), numbers, and special characters (for example, *, #, !). Do not use the same username and/or password for multiple accounts.
- Protect your passwords. Do not write them down or share them with anyone.
- Protect your answers to any security questions. Select questions and provide answers that are easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess. Do not write down your security questions or answers or share them with anyone. Please note that we will never ask you to provide answers to your security questions via email.
- Use secure websites for transactions and shopping. Shop with merchants you know and trust. Make sure Internet purchases are secured with encryption to protect your account information. Look for “secure transaction” symbols: for example, a lock symbol in the lower right hand corner of your web browser window, or “https://...” in the address bar of the website. The “s” indicates “secured” and means the web page uses encryption.
- Always log off from online banking and any website after using your credit or debit card, or other sensitive information. If you cannot log off, quit your browser to prevent any potential unauthorized access to your account information.
- Close your browser when you are not using the Internet.
- Be cautious when using public hotspots and consider your Wi-Fi auto-connect settings.
Mobile Banking Security Tips
When you use a mobile device for browser or text-based account access, keep these tips in mind:
- Use the keypad lock or phone lock function on your mobile device when it is not in use. These functions password-protect your device to make it more difficult for someone else to view your information. Also, be sure to store your device in a secure location.
- Frequently delete text messages from your financial institution, especially before lending, discarding, or selling your mobile device.
- Never disclose via text message, phone call, or email your personal or financial information, including account numbers, passwords, Social Security number, or birthdate. Home Bank of California will never send a text message to your mobile device asking you for this type of information.
Applications (“Apps”) are programs you can download to your mobile device. Apps that let you monitor your finances and conduct certain transactions are increasing in popularity.
- To ensure the safety of your personal and account information, download mobile apps only from reputable sources.
- For your security, sign off when you finish using the Home Bank of California app rather than just closing it.
- If you have suspicions about the authenticity of the Home Bank of California mobile banking app, access your account through your browser at https://www.hbc.bank.
Computer Security Tips
- Use a current web browser.
- Avoid downloading programs from unknown sources.
- Keep your computer operating system up-to-date to ensure the highest level of protection.
- Install a personal firewall on your computer.
- Install, run, and update your antivirus, anti-spyware, and other protective software.
- Beware of malware infections by drive-by downloads. Drive-by downloads may happen after visiting a malicious or vulnerable website, viewing an email message, or clicking on a deceptive pop-up window. Malware is malicious software that is installed on your computer with harmful intent. Malware, for instance, can capture your login passwords and other personal data. Examples of malware include spyware, adware, viruses, etc.
- The best way to protect yourself from malware is to exercise caution before installing programs on your computer or opening email attachments. Here are some important precautions:
- Only install applications and software from well-known, trustworthy companies.
- Make sure your computer is free of viruses/spyware and has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed.
- Keep your operating system and browser up-to-date with the latest security updates and patches.
- Set your browser preferences to block pop-ups, which can contain inappropriate content or have malicious intentions.
- Back up all sensitive information from your old computer before you discard and erase the hard drive.
- Change your wireless network default password as well as the default SSID (name used to identify your network). Don’t broadcast your SSID and consider using encryption on your network.
- Turn your computer off completely when it’s not in use. Don’t leave it in sleep mode.
- Conduct online banking activities on secure computers only. Public computers (computers at Internet cafes, copy centers, etc.) should be used with caution, due to shared use and possible tampering. Online banking activities and viewing or downloading documents (statements, etc.) should only be conducted on a computer you know to be safe and secure.
- Make sure your computer software and plug-ins are current. Before downloading an update to your computer program, first go to the company’s website to confirm the update is legitimate.
Email Security Tips
- Be wary of suspicious emails. Never open attachments, click on links, or respond to emails from suspicious or unknown senders.
- If you receive a suspicious email that you think is a phish, do not respond or provide any information.
- If you have inadvertently responded to a phish email with personal or account information, contact 858-270-5881.