Beware of keystroke loggers
A new breed of software can record a computer user’s keystrokes, including bank passwords and credit card numbers, and send the data to thieves over the Internet. Some programs are nearly undetectable. Here are tips for safer computing:
- Keep your operating system up to date. On PCs use the automatic update feature in Microsoft Windows.
- Install an Internet firewall.
- Use and update your anti-virus software.
- Install a program that scans your computer for spyware and run it weekly. Spyware scanners include:
- Spybot Search & Destroy
- Ad-Ware by Lavasoft
- Spy Sweeper by Webroot Software
- PestPatrol by Computer Associates
- Never click on Web links embedded in an email; instead, type the address into your browser.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- If possible, keep sensitive information off computers connected to the Internet.
- If your Personal Computer has been compromised, volunteers at websites such as http://www.spywarewarrior.com and http://www.spywareinfo.com can help repair your computer. Consider switching credit cards and bank account numbers and ordering a credit freeze on your accounts from the following three major credit bureaus:
Beware of Phishing
Con artists now use email to try and hijack your personal financial information. In a scam known as “phishing” swindlers claim to be from a reputable company and send out thousands of fake emails in hopes that consumers will respond to the fake emails giving out bank account information, credit card numbers, passwords or other sensitive information.
These emails can look quite convincing, with company logos and banners copied from actual Web sites. Often, they will tell you that their security procedure has changed and they need to update (or validate) your information, and then direct you to a look-alike Web site. If you respond, the thieves use your information to order goods and services or obtain credit.
How to Protect Your Personal Information
To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam, the American Bankers Association offers these tips:
- Never give out your personal information in response to an unsolicited phone call, fax or email, no matter how official it may seem.
- Do not respond to emails that may warn of dire consequences unless you validate your information immediately. Contact the company to confirm the e-mail’s validity using a telephone number or Web address you know to be genuine.
- Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly and look for unauthorized transactions, even small ones. Some thieves hope small transactions will go unnoticed. Report discrepancies immediately. When submitting financial information to a Web site, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your browser, and make sure the Internet address begins with “https.” This signals that your information is secure during transmission.
- Report suspicious activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
- If you have responded to an email, contact your bank immediately so they can protect your account and your identity.
- For information on Identity Theft, visit ABA’s Consumer Connection.