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There is nothing more important than keeping your personal information secure so that you can prevent identity theft. And no matter the amount of time you’re spending online, it makes sense to be smart about how and what you’re doing there—helping protect your personal information from those who’d like nothing better than to steal your identity and cause you harm.

fraudprevention graphicBelow are some frequently asked questions on protecting your personal information:

How can I secure my devices?

Having secure devices is the first step to protecting yourself from scammers and fraud. There are a few things you can do to make sure your device is secure. Be aware of the Wi-Fi you connect your devices to, as they may be open networks. Never conduct financial transactions or access sensitive data while you are on unsecure Wi-Fi. Before downloading new apps, check to see if the source is trustworthy and read the privacy policy to see what personal information it will have access to. Backup your data. If you happen to lose your phone or are a victim of theft, having your information reliably stored ensures that it is safe, and you can recover it in case your device gets into the wrong hands.

Where should I keep important documents?

Some important documents, such as a will, passports, or social security cards, cannot be kept electronically. You want to keep important documents close at hand in case you need to access them, and safe from theft, fires, or other emergencies. Safety deposit boxes are one of the safest ways to store documents. Most banks have safety deposit boxes, and using one alleviates the worry of someone stealing your documents from your home. Home safes are also a safe way to store documents that you may need to access regularly. Your home safe should be fireproof and have a secure lock system.

How important are my passwords?

In short, very important. Passwords protect all your information that you store on your computer, phone, and accounts. Many of us have one or two passwords that we use for everything, and if a scammer gets ahold of those, they may be able to access your information across several platforms. Strong passwords are key to keeping your information secure. When creating a new password, try to stay away from using your hometown, last name, or birthdate. Instead, try thinking of a sentence or abbreviation, and substitute numbers for letters. Always remember to log out of your accounts, as using the “remember me” function could potentially store your passwords somewhere you do not want.

How can I tell if an email is fraudulent?

Fraudulent emails are meant to hack your devices and steal your personal information. These emails will often have a generalized greeting and say that your information has already been compromised. This is meant to hurry you through the steps laid out in the email. But instead, take a moment to inspect the message. The sender’s name is easily changed to look familiar, but remember to check the actual email address of the sender. It will often have a long string of random numbers and letters. If you suspect that an email is fraudulent, you should report it and immediately delete it. If the email claims to be from a company you use, like a streaming service or online shopping platform, reach out to the company’s customer service department and ask if they sent you the email.

How can I tell if a call is fraudulent?

Unfortunately, scammers can use fake numbers that are similar to ones you recognize, making it more likely that you answer. Scammers might pretend to be your utility company or the IRS, and demand immediate information. Do not fall for this. Hang up and call the supposed company with a number found on their official website. They will be able to confirm if the call was legitimate or a scam. Informing the organization that a scammer is using their name is also important as the organization can notify customers about the situation and be wary for other reports.

At SmartBank, we ensure that your accounts remain secure. We will never ask for sensitive information over the phone or through an email. Never give your banking information to somebody just because they asked. If you ever receive a request from us that you are unsure about, call your local branch or our Client Services Team at 866.290.2554.

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