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    Tips to Protect Your Identity and Avoiding Fraud

     For more information, please call us at 753-1521.

     Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in America. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 17.6 million US residents were victims of identity theft in 2014, up from 16.6 million victims in 2012. 

    It's clear that cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated and are using every tactic imaginable to carry out their offenses. It is extremely important that individuals create barriers to their personal information. In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are some steps that you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:

    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.

    Shred sensitive papers

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

    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 eStatements to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don't mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.

    Use online banking to protect yourself

    Enroll in Option Online so that you can monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Also consider calling our Contact Center to ensure that we have your current cell phone number on file - that will allow us to enroll you in our new Text Alerts so that you can receive real-time text alerts for suspected fraudulent transactions that post to your account. 

    Monitor your credit report

    You can sign up for our Heritage Checking Account, which provides you with 24/7 access to your credit report. You can also order a free copy of your credit report annually from one of three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. 

    Protect your computer

    Make sure the virus protection 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. As an extra measure of protection on financial websites, download Trusteer. We provide this software to our customers at no cost to you. If you need help with this download call our Contact Center at 753-1521.

    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 when it is from a sender you don't know.

    Report suspected fraud immediately

    If you suspect that fraud has occurred on your account, please call us immediately at 753-1521.