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Online services offer customers mobility, convenience and speed. Safer than ever before due to advancements in digital payments and cybersecurity, online transactions are a major part of our bill paying, banking and shopping.  

Unfortunately, fraud and cybercrime remain serious threats to your online security. Protect your identity and your finances by being proactive and security aware. 

Online Security Tips

Secure online habits

Trust but verify. Verify information requests arriving via email by calling the company directly or using a published verified telephone number or email address.

Pay attention to “red flags” which might indicate fraudulent intentions. Be aware of urgent requests or demands that you respond immediately by logging into a provided link.

Use distinct passwords for each application or website. When a cybercriminal obtains your password from a phishing email or a data breach, they will try to use it to login to multiple sites. If you have reused that username and password combination, you will leave yourself at a higher risk for compromise.

Protect your identity

Be stingy with personal information. Don’t overshare on social media.

Only share the information needed to facilitate your use of a specific website.

Never relay confidential information over the phone, via email or in an unverified, online portal.

Recognize that a “tech support caller” or “an email from customer service,” though friendly in tone, may be fraudulent.

Hang up on unexpected callers and delete emails from unfamiliar senders. Never reply to an email or call from an unverified contact.

Scammer and hacker tactics

Scammers and hackers exploit the human tendency to be kind and helpful. They impersonate trustworthy entities to manipulate victims into divulging confidential information.

Scams can be carried out via email phishing, text messaging, online sales, phone calls or even pop-up windows during online sessions.

A message that is intriguing or sounds too good to be true is the bait that scammers use to entice you into cooperating with them.

Stay informed about scams at FTC Tips & Advice and other official sites.

Email phishing and malware

Phishing is the number-one threat vector for consumers and businesses alike, according to the annual Verizon Data Breach Investigations report. Scam emails are often sent in bulk and “phish” for a response from an unsuspecting user who might download malware or hastily enter login credentials at a fake website. Often, the fake website looks identical to a legitimate login screen for Microsoft, Facebook or another well-known site. 

Malware is malicious software that is installed on your computer without your consent. Malware can be hidden in emails, links or fake websites. Malware can record keystrokes, re-direct your browser, display fake websites or perform transactions. 

Hackers take over email accounts and impersonate the account owner, then send out emails form the address book to unsuspecting recipients. 

Securing your computer

Configure your computer to automatically install updates and patches which protect against known computer vulnerabilities and bugs. 

Always use antivirus and firewall software. Set them to automatically update. 

Take note of unusual computer behavior: slowness, pop-up windows or other unexpected activity. If your computer or device displays unusual behavior, promptly have it evaluated by a trusted technology provider. 

Choose the most secure settings available for browsers and accounts on websites. 

Back up your data regularly. Enable automatic backups.

Passwords

Passwords are key elements of online security. Protect your username and credentials. If the website allows, use long, complex passwords of 15 or more characters. Include capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Passphrases are excellent choices. 

Do not save passwords in your browser. Passwords that are automatically populated by browsers could allow a hacker to recover your password. 

Use distinct passwords for each application or website you access, especially for financial accounts.  

A password manager helps you create complex passwords for each site. With a password manager, you only must remember the master password and it keeps all your unique passwords safely stored for quick logins.

Online banking security

Do not use public wi-fi or kiosk computers to access your online banking or any sites containing your personal information. 

Review your financial transactions regularly. Reconcile as often as possible. 

Use multifactor authentication (secure access codes) for added security. 

Use unique security questions on your online banking account that are not used on other sites. Northwest FCS will never ask you to provide answers to your security questions via email, phone, text message, etc. 

Choose the most secure options and alerts for all your online accounts.