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Tips to protect your financial privacy

Posted October 16, 2013 in Advice Column

While banks use a combination of safeguards to protect customer data, which allows them to detect unusual spending patterns and protect accounts, customers also play an important role in safeguarding their personal financial information.

“Banks protect customer privacy because their future depends on it,” said Frank Keating, ABA president and CEO. “While banks provide strong data protections, customers are the first line of defense. A partnership between banks and customers is the most effective way to protect financial data.”

To help ensure the safety of personal information, customers should follow these three tips:
•    Create c0mplic@t3d passwords. Avoid birthdays, pet names and simple passwords like 12345. It is also important to change passwords at least three times a year. Because friendly theft — theft by someone the victim knows — is the most common type of identity theft or fraud, don’t share your passwords with family members, and be mindful of who has access to your personal information.

•    Continually monitor accounts. Check account activity and online statements often, instead of waiting for the monthly statement. You are the first line of defense because you know right away if a transaction is fraudulent. If you notice unusual or unauthorized activity, notify your bank right away. When a customer reports an unauthorized transaction, the bank will cover the loss and take measures to protect the account.

•    Protect yourself online. Be sure computers and mobile devices are equipped with up-to-date anti-virus and malware protection. Never give out your personal financial information in response to an unsolicited email, no matter how official it may seem. Your bank will never contact you by email asking for your password, PIN or account information. Only open links and attachments from trusted sources. When submitting financial information on a website, look for the padlock or key icon at the top or bottom of your browser, and make sure the Internet address begins with “https.” This signals that your information is secure during transmission.

If you are a victim of fraud and suspect your personal information has been compromised, you should take the following steps:
•    Call your bank and credit card issuers immediately so they can take necessary steps to protect your account.
•    File a police report and call the fraud unit of the three credit-reporting companies.
•    Consider placing a victim statement in your credit report.
•    Make sure to maintain a log of all the contacts you make with authorities regarding the matter.

Write down names, titles and phone numbers in case you need to re-contact them or refer to them in future correspondence.
•    For more advice, contact the FTC’s ID Theft Consumer Response Center at 1-877-ID THEFT (1-877-438-4338).

Information provided by Webster City Federal Savings Bank, 820 Des Moines St., Webster City, 515-832-3071,

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