Keep Your Sensitive Information Safe
How to protect your accounts, avoid scams and spot fraud
Remember, Auburn Savings will never ask for your personal information over the phone, text or in email. If you’ve been contacted and have been asked to provide any personal information, or if you have questions or concerns please call us immediately at (207) 782-6871 or toll free at (888) 282-7287.
Fraud, scams, identity theft—when these things happen, it can be devastating. The best way for you to protect yourself is to be informed. As your bank, we take every precaution to ensure that your sensitive information and accounts remain secure. But we also know that arming you with the resources to help you prevent, recognize and avoid scams will protect you from falling victim.
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, scams, or fraudulent activity is to be diligent in protecting your personal information. Here are several things you can do to keep your sensitive opr personal information safe.
Protect your Passwords:
- Use a 13 digit password that uses a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters
- Don’t write down your passwords, carry them with you, or keep an in obvious place
- Don’t use the same password for everything
- Don’t use personal information in a password such as: birthdays, addresses, special dates/names, etc.
- Change passwords every 60-90 days
Protecting your Identity:
- Don’t carry your social security card with you
- Only carry around the credit cards you may need, leave the rest at home in a safe place
- Shred old financial statements, sensitive documents, “junk” mail offers, credit card offers
- Watch your credit reports closely—they contain all your personal info needed to steal your identity
- Monitor your credit card statements each month to ensure there have been no fraudulent purchases
- Use online bill pay. This reduces the risk of someone getting their hands on a check with personal information. Easily sign up for online bill pay on Auburn OnLine
How do scams happen?
According to the FTC, everyone—regardless of age, education, gender, geographic location or ethnicity—can fall victim to scams.
Scams trick you by looking legitimate. Scammers also try to take advantage of you through scare tactics and impersonating institutions or people you know by sending seemingly normal correspondence that ask you for cash, payment or personal information. They can do this several different ways:
- Phishing – When a scammer tries to impersonate a trusted source and requests or seeks to gain personal information.
- Spoofing – When a scammer tries to disguise a communication as a trusted source in order to embed malicious malware that can damage your operating system and critical applications while it scans for information.
Both phishing and spoofing can be done through emails, texts, phone calls, social media, pop-ups or bogus websites claiming to be trusted sources.
What are some types of scams to watch out for?
- Social security scams – the scammer seeks to obtain your social security number by pretending to be from Social Security Administration.
- Foreclosure relief scams – scammers give a false promise to save you from foreclosure with the goal of taking your money or your house.
- Imposter scams – scammers pretend to be someone you know or trust or from an organization, charity or state or federal department and request you send them money.
- Mail fraud – mail that promises something valuable (new car, vacation, etc.) in return for you providing your personal information or asking you to send money.
- Wire or money transfer fraud – scammers will trick you into wiring or transferring money, oftentimes claiming to be someone you know who needs financial assistance. (The most prevalent is the “grandparent scam” when the caller pretends to be a grandchild in a foreign country or is in trouble and needs money sent right away.)
- Unemployment benefit scams – imposters file unemployment benefits claims in your name.
- COVID-19 related scams – Scammers pretend to be the government, CDC or WHO, contact tracers seeking something in exchange for money or to offer vaccine kits for money.
Caller ID can be faked! Before you agree to provide any money or personal information to a caller, hang up and contact the organization to check on its legitimacy.
How to Identify a Scam
If it looks or seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of anything that requires you to “pay a fee” in order to claim a prize.
Some red flags of fraudulent activity include:
- Claiming “free money”
- Flashy images (piles of cash, expensive cars)
- A new website domain (may indicate a fake website) or unsecure site
- Unexpected prizes if you “pay a fee”
- Stimulus checks or tax refunds that you have to pay a fee to access
One way to avoid being scammed is to become familiar with how businesses normally correspond with you. If you receive a call or text claiming to be from your utility company but they usually email you, do not respond! This has the potential to be a scam. Here are other things to be on top of:
- Monitor all of your financial accounts for unauthorized activity as often as possible—daily is best
- Don’t click on URLs or links from unsolicited emails, texts or on social media
- Never respond to unsolicited correspondence: hang up, delete, ignore and report
- Never allow remote access to your devices
- Be wary of unusual payment methods (bitcoin, money transfer, gift cards, etc.)
Anyone can fall victim to scams, identity theft or fraud but knowing what to look out for and how to protect your personal and private information can reduce your risk. A good rule of thumb is: When in doubt, hang up!
Additional and trusted resources on fraud, scams and how to protect yourself.
- Federal Trade Commission Fraud Reporting: http://www.ftc.gov/complaint
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/fraud/
- The Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information website: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/
- The Office of the Maine Attorney General Privacy, Theft and Consumer Scams: https://www.maine.gov/ag/consumer/scams.shtml
- Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Fraud Resources: https://www.occ.gov/topics/consumers-and-communities/consumer-protection/fraud-resources/index-fraud-resources.html