How You Can Protect Yourself
Tips for safe online banking:
- Computer viruses have become commonplace for PC users today. Computer viruses can effectively damage important data if not adequately controlled. However, you can safely deal with the threat of computer viruses by following a few simple guidelines: Use commercially available virus protection software. The best protection against computer viruses is installation of virus protection software (readily available from most computer stores). This software can scan your computer system for known computer viruses and add an extra level of safety for PC users. In order for your anti-virus software to remain effective, you must update it regularly. There are new viruses being introduced every day. Be sure to update virus software definition files on a regular basis from the manufacturer of your virus protection software. While Sterling Bank & Trust does not guarantee the performance of commercially available software or endorse a particular brand, we suggest that you obtain the software to help reduce the risk of viruses compromising your computer.
- Do not accept email attachments from unknown senders. Many viruses today are accidentally spread by users receiving and running programs sent to them by someone they do not know. Although it may seem harmless, the next chain-letter or great offer may be the Trojan horse for a virus. Protect yourself and your data.
- Scan all USB thumb drives or CDs before use. Thumb drives or CDs that are passed from user to user have a high susceptibility to virus infection because not all systems utilize virus protection software. Protect your data. No anti-virus software is 100% effective. Another effective way to protect yourself is to back up your data regularly. If you can't afford to lose it, back it up.
- Do not send any personal information (example: account numbers and/or card numbers) by Internet email. Emails are not secure via the Internet.
Protect Yourself. Protect the privacy of your banking information by not revealing your password to anyone. In addition, after completing any banking activities in the encrypted area of our website, you should clear the cache or clear the Internet session history.
Email Scams: Phishing
What is phishing?
All Internet users should be aware of the online scam known as "phishing" (pronounced "fishing"). Phishing involves the use of email messages that appear to come from your bank or another trusted business, but are actually from imposters.
Phishing emails typically ask you to click a link to visit a website, where you're asked to enter or confirm personal financial information such as your account numbers, passwords, Social Security number or other data. Although these websites may appear legitimate, they are not. Thieves can collect whatever data you enter and use it to access your personal accounts.
How can I spot a phishing scam?
Look for these warning signs:
- Language and tone. The message you receive may urge you to act quickly by suggesting that your account is threatened. It may say that if you fail to update, verify or confirm your personal or account information, access to your accounts will be suspended. The wording may also be sloppy and contain misspellings.
- Requests for personal information. Scam emails typically ask for personal or account information such as:
- Account numbers
- Credit and check card numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Online banking user IDs and passwords
- Mother's maiden name
- Date of birth
- Other confidential information
- Non-secure Web pages. Clever thieves can build a fake website that looks nearly identical to an authentic one. They can even alter the URL (the Web address) that appears in your browser window. Watch out for non-secure Web pages that ask for sensitive information (secure sites will typically display a lock in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window).
Examples of phishing scams. The scams identified below are examples of scams that have been reported by financial institutions, retailers, brokerage firms and other customer oriented companies.
- Some financial institution customers have received email messages stating that "there have been a large number of identity theft attempts" targeted at financial institution customers. The email requests that customers confirm their identity for personal online banking by clicking a link and logging onto their accounts.
- Another fraudulent email pretends to be a "Security Center Advisory" that informs customers their account "has been randomly selected for maintenance," and that they need to click a link to verify their identity.
- Another fraudulent email message states that "a customer's online banking account has been locked because of too many failed login attempts." The email requests that customers unlock their profile and confirm their identity by clicking a link and logging into their profile using personal information.
- Yet another fraudulent email states that there is a pending charge (often a quite large one) to the customer's account, and in order to decline the transaction, the customer needs to click a button or a link in the email.
All of these email messages include links that appear to take customers to the companies' website however, the Web pages they are directed to, are not legitimate. They actually take customers to fake Web pages where the scammers collect personal and account information.
How can I decrease my risk of being a phishing victim?
Here are some safety tips:
- Be suspicious of demanding messages. Messages threatening to terminate or suspend your account without your quick response should be treated as suspicious. A legitimate bank or business should not request personal information from you over an unsecured website. When in doubt, call the business' customer service number (available on your account statement) to confirm the status of your account. Do not use telephone numbers found on the suspected website.
- Always type in the URL of the Web page you need. Phishing scams rely on embedded links that take you to fake websites. It's safer to type your bank's Web address directly into your browser so you know you're visiting the legitimate site.
- Protect your password. Don't write down sensitive, personal information such as your password or Social Security number. Select a complex password and change it frequently. Never use the same password for online banking that you use on social media websites.
- Keep your computer up-to-date. We recommend that you install anti-virus and firewall programs to help keep your computer safe. Update your computer’s software when patches and updates are made available from computer and software manufacturers. These updates are often made to address security vulnerabilities in earlier releases of their software.
Report an Online Scam
Please note that Sterling does NOT solicit personal information through email messages. If you receive a suspicious email that appears to come from Sterling Bank & Trust, please notify us immediately (do not open any attachments or click any links found in the suspicious email).
You may also want to report it online to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or contact them at 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).
Learn More About Phishing and Other Recent Scams
To learn more about phishing and other scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information website at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts.
If you believe you have provided personal or account information in response to a fraudulent email or website, please contact us at 1-800-944-2265
The Federal Trade Commission provides a step by step guide that can be found at www.identitytheft.gov.