8 Tips to Protect Your Identity

Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. In 2016, there were 15.4 million victims of identity fraud in the U.S., according to Javelin Strategy and Research. We recommend following these tips to keep your information – and your money – safe.tips-to-protect-you-from-identity-fraud

  1. Don’t share your secrets.

Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.

  1. Shred sensitive papers.

Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

  1. Keep an eye out for missing mail.

Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.

  1. Use online banking to protect yourself.

Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.

  1. Monitor your credit report.

Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!.

  1. Protect your computer.

Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.

  1. Protect your mobile device.

Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.

  1. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

Chip-Enabled Cards Help Prevent Fraud

It wasn’t that long ago when few, if any, people in the U.S. knew what a chip-enabled card was. Today, millions of these cards are now in circulation across the nation, much to the disappointment of fraudsters.AdobeStock_22591245

That’s because chip-enabled debit and credit cards make it a lot more difficult for crooks to steal data, especially compared to their older cousins – magnetic stripe cards. The technology used for each type of card is what makes the difference.

Chip-enabled cards take advantage of EMV technology. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – a global standard for credit and debit cards. All Bank5 Connect debit cards are now equipped with EMV chips for added security.

Older cards that lack chip technology have their data embedded in the magnetic stripe on the back of the card. The problem is, that this data doesn’t change from one transaction to another. This means that if a thief happens to steal the data during an in-person transaction (by using a card skimmer, or installing malware on the cash register system) they can then turn around and create counterfeit cards with the stolen data.

Each time a chip-enabled card is used for payment in a chip reader however, the card’s chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again. So if a thief creates a fake card based on transaction information stolen from a chip-embedded card, the fake card will be denied because the information will be outdated.

The process of inserting a chip-enabled card into a chip reader is called card “dipping”, as opposed to the “swiping” method used for magnetic stripe cards. If you’ve used a chip reader, you may have noticed that the transaction takes a few seconds longer than a card swipe. This is because when a card is “dipped”, information has to flow between the chip and the financial institution that issued the card in order to verify the card and create the unique transaction data. But, this slightly longer transaction time is well worth the additional security!

Since the switch to EMV chip technology began in the United States in October 2015, it’s estimated that 40-60 million chip-enabled cards have replaced magnetic stripe cards. Bank5 Connect alone has issued thousands of chip-enabled debit cards to its customers.

Unlike Europe, where EMV cards have been in use for many years, it’s going to take some time before chip-embedded technology is fully in place across the U.S. A major reason for the slow switchover is the cost involved with creating the new cards and installing the equipment needed to read them. The good news is that chip-enabled cards are still equipped with a magnetic stripe on the back of them, so if you happen to be checking out at a retailer who hasn’t yet installed a chip reader, you can still pay for your purchase with a good old-fashioned card swipe.

While chip-embedded cards provide an added defense against fraud, there are still ways that thieves can get their hands on your card information. Keep in mind that the card still has a magnetic stripe, and any purchases you make with a “swipe” do not utilize the chip’s security benefits. And it’s still possible to lose your card, have it stolen, or have it compromised during an online purchase. Because of this, it’s always wise to monitor your bank statements and card activity on a regular basis. If you suspect someone has used your card fraudulently, you should immediately alert your bank or the financial institution that issued your card.