Safe Banking Practices

Keeping You Informed!

Happy Online Holiday Shopping

Cheers to a cybersecure holiday season! Cyber Monday 2021 is expected to be the biggest shopping day in U.S. history. According to a Pew Research Center survey, Americans use a wide range of digital tools and platforms to shop, and roughly 80 percent of adults purchase products online. Mobile has taken over holiday gift-giving: last year, half of website visits and 30 percent of online sales were conducted via mobile devices. Gift givers are going mobile to conveniently compare products, read reviews and make purchasing decisions while out and about. Technology also ranks high on shopping lists – from new laptops and gaming systems to tablets, the latest phones, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices like video cameras, toys, and appliances.

Don’t let hackers mess with the merriment, whether you are giving the gift of connectivity or using it yourself. The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) reminds everyone that all devices connected to the internet – including mobile and IoT – must be protected. And young people receiving technology for the first time need to understand how to use it safely and securely. IN addition, older adults must make it their mission to continue learning about and practicing good cyber hygiene. According to Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s Executive Director, “All Tech Users-especially vulnerable audiences like teens and seniors- need to take responsibility and protect themselves against cyber threats, scams, and identity theft. Not only during the prime shopping time but every day.” “In past years, we have seen that scammers, hackers, and cybercriminals are actively on the prowl during the holidays. Stay alert for phishing emails, deals that look too good to be true, and warnings about packages that can’t deliver or orders that have problems. Continually learn about and always initiate basic safety and security practices, and you will connect with more peace of mind during the holidays and year-round.”


‘Tis the season for many teenagers to receive their first smartphones, tablets or other devices. When giving the gift of technology, parents should also give the gift of safety. While most young people have grown up with technology and are comfortable navigating their online lives. The Keeping Up with Generation App: NCSA Parent/Teen Online Safety Survey revealed that teens and parents are aligned on their top three concerns, which are:

  • Someone accessing a teen’s account without permission (teens, 41%, vs. parents, 41%)
  • Someone sharing a teen’s personal information about them online (teens, 39%, vs. parents, 42%)
  • Having a teen’s photo or video shared that they wanted private (teens, 36%. vs. parents, 34%)

The good news is that teens turn to their parents for help, with almost half (47%) saying their parents are among their top three sources for learning how to stay safe online, compared with 40 percent who say their friends are top sources. With this in mind, giving a tech-inspired gift may offer the opportune time to begin the internet safety and security dialogue. And, interestingly, teens and parents share similar concerns and would like to learn more about the following – which may offer a good starting point for the tech talk:

  • Preventing identity theft (parents, 45%, vs. teens, 44%)
  • How to be safer when using accessible Wi-Fi networks (parents, 29%, vs. teens, 32%)
  • Phishing (parents, 27%, vs. teens, 31%)


Similar to young people, seniors have their own cyber issues. An October 2016 study from Home Instead Senior Care revealed the following:

  • Online shopping offers convenience and ease during the busy holidays, but be aware – nearly two out of every five American and Canadian seniors have been the attempted victims of online scams.
  • Remember to change up your passwords when registering a new account on the lately tech gifts and gadgets you received. Sixty-eight percent of surveyed seniors use a single password or re-use passwords on multiple sites. Add variety to protect your information better.
  • Holidays bring out the giving spirit in all. Don’t let your heartfelt donation end up in the wrong place and jeopardize your personal information. Check that the charity you’re donating to is legitimate by looking up the number and calling it.

Whether you are a teen, parent, or senior, be on the lookout for urgent online communications that might urge you to act quickly and click-through links and open attachments or provide personal information. Be wary of emails about problems with your credit card or an account or online order status. Exercise caution when seeing an ad or offer for which the discount is way below average. Take security precautions, think about the consequences of your actions online, and enjoy the conveniences of technology with peace of mind while you shop online.


  • Keep Clean Machines: Before searching for that perfect gift, ensure that all web-connected devices ‒ including PCs, smartphones, and tablets ‒ are free from malware and infections by running only the most current versions of software and apps.
  • Lock Down Your Login: One of the most critical things you can do in preparation for the online shopping season is to fortify your online accounts by enabling the most robust authentication tools available, such as, biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking, and social media.
  • Conduct Research: When using a new website for your holiday purchases, read reviews and see if other customers have had positive or negative experiences with the site.
  • When In Doubt, Throw It Out: Links in emails, social media posts, and text messages are often how cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.
  • Personal Information is Like Money. Value It. Protect It.: When making a purchase online, be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure you think it is necessary for the vendor to request that information. Remember that you only need to fill out the required fields at checkout.


  • Get Savvy About Wi-Fi Hotspots: If you are out and about, limit the type of business you conduct over open public Wi-Fi connections, including logging in to key accounts such as email and banking. Adjust the security settings on your phone to limit who can access your device.
  • Secure Your Devices: Use strong passwords or touch ID features to lock your devices. These security measures can help protect your information if your devices are lost or stolen and keep prying eyes out.
  • Think Before You App: Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop, and your location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps.
  • Now You See Me, Now You Don’t: Some stores and other locations look for devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range. Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they’re not in use.

Tips and Advice To Help Keep You And Your Information Safe


  • Keep Security Software Current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Automate Software Updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
  • Protect All Devices that Connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
  • Plug & Scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.


  • Lock Down Your Login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the most robust authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys, or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking, and social media.
  • Make Your Password A Sentence: A strong password is a sentence of at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
  • Unique Account, Unique Password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
  • Write It Down And Keep It Safe: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and ensure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.


  • When In Doubt Throw It Out: Links in emails, social media posts, and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
  • Get Savvy About Wi-Fi Hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
  • Protect Your $$: When banking and shopping, check to ensure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.


  • Stay Current: Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest
    information, and share with friends, family, colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
  • Think Before You Act: Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true, or ask for personal information.
  • Back It Up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.


  • Safer For Me, More Secure For All: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work, and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
  • Post Online About Others As You Have Them Post About You: The Golden Rule applies online as well.
  • Help The Authorities Fight Cyber Crime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center ( and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.


  • Personal Information Is Like Money. Value It. Protect It.: Information about you, such as your purchase history or location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites.
  • Be Aware of What’s Being Shared: Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
  • Share With Care: Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it, and how it could be perceived now and in the future.


Social engineering is the art of manipulating people, so they give up confidential information. The types of information these criminals are seeking can vary, but when individuals are targeted the criminals are usually trying to trick you into giving them your passwords or bank information, or access your computer to secretly install malicious software–that will give them access to your passwords and bank information as well as giving them control over your computer.

Criminals use social engineering tactics because it is usually easier to exploit your natural inclination to trust than to discover ways to hack your software.  For example, it is much easier to fool someone into giving you their password than for you to try hacking their password (unless the password is weak).

Security is all about knowing who and what to trust. It is essential to understand when and when not to take a person at their word and when the person you are communicating with is who they say they are. The same is true of online interactions and website usage: when do you trust that the website you are using is legitimate or is safe to provide your information?

Ask any security professional, and they will tell you that the weakest link in the security chain is the human who accepts a person or scenario at face value. It doesn’t matter how many locks and deadbolts are on your doors and windows, or if you have guard dogs, alarm systems, floodlights, fences with barbed wire, and armed security personnel. If you trust the person at the gate, who says he is the pizza delivery guy, and you let him in without first checking to see if he is legitimate, you are exposing yourself to whatever risk he represents.

Below are Social Engineering Red Flags To Help Keep You Aware:

social engineering, red flags

Identity Theft Protection

We recommend that you remain vigilant for fraud or identity theft incidents by reviewing your account statements and free credit reports for any unauthorized activity. You may obtain a copy of your credit report, free of charge, once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. To order your annual free credit report, please visit or call toll-free at 1-877-322-8228.

Important Links:

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft or have reason to believe, your personal information has been misused, immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission or the Attorney General’s Office. Additional information from the FTC about steps you can take to avoid identity theft as well, as information about fraud alerts and security freezes, can be obtained by calling, toll free, 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or visiting You should also contact your local law enforcement authorities and file a police report. We recommend obtaining a copy of the policy report if asked to provide documents to creditors to correct your records.

Helpful Resources

Better Business Bureau®

Department of Homeland Security

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