Online Security

Fraud in 2015 appears not to have changed significantly over the previous year, according to Javelin's 2016 Identity Fraud Study. The number of victims remained near the 13 million level, and the financial impact dropped to $15 billion. But with chip technology becoming the new standard for credit cards and other card types, fraud in storefronts is changing as counterfeit card fraud drops and fraudsters focus on new account fraud instead.

Regardless of the changes year-to-year, fraud remains a major threat, one Regions takes seriously. On an almost daily basis, users of the Internet are warned about the latest hacking or infectious spyware incident perpetrated by criminals who are seeking to profit illegally by obtaining your financial information and/or identity. Fight back against this crime by arming yourself with the knowledge to protect your identity and ensure your Internet security. We encourage you to read this essential information.

There are several manufacturers of firewall and anti-virus software; research what works best for you. In addition, some valuable consumer sites where you can learn more about the benefits of protecting yourself online include www.CNET.com and www.consumerreports.org.

Remember, it is always best to be on the defense when it comes to protecting your financial security.

Anti-Virus Software
Viruses are simply programs or a piece of code that is downloaded to your computer without your knowledge. Viruses can and normally do replicate themselves and may quickly use up your computer's available memory and bring your operating system to a standstill. Most of these types of viruses are disguised as email attachments. When the attachment is opened the virus attaches itself to your system – many times without your knowledge.

As a result, anti-virus software programs have been created to help protect your system from these unwanted attacks. Your protection against these virus attacks is dependent on maintaining your updates and using precaution when opening email attachments. Should you receive a suspicious email, it is best to delete the email immediately and run a virus check.

Firewalls are the first line of defense in protecting your private information. They are used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing your private computer while it is connected to the Internet. If you have a broadband connection such as cable modem or DSL, it is especially important to maintain a firewall.

The firewall can be set up to filter all traffic entering or leaving through the firewall. By examining each of the messages it can block transactions that do not meet your predetermined security criteria.

There are several manufacturers of firewall software; we encourage you to research what works best for you.

Combating Spyware
The term "spyware" is a generic term for advertising software (also referred to as "adware"). It enables advertising firms to install a tracking program on your computer. In most cases, these are legitimate firms who simply want to track user behavior and promote products.

While in some cases this may be just a nuisance, there are also malicious hackers who have created spyware programs for the purpose of collecting sensitive data from your system as well as installing additional software. Your computer is vulnerable and – more importantly – your privacy is at risk when spyware is used by criminals.

You can combat spyware programs with software designed to find and delete the programs from your computer. In addition, these sorts of programs can protect you from downloading spyware in the future. We recommend you research what is best for you. You can find more information at these sites: Microsoft Security, Spyware Doctor and www.getnetwise.org.

System Updates
Keep your computer "healthy" by properly maintaining your system. Computer manufacturers offer auto-updates or reminders that notify you when a new update or upgrade is available for download. Many times these updates are created to help protect your system from possible security flaws.

By regularly maintaining your operating system, Web browser and software programs, your computer will be at less risk for an attack.

Credit Bureau Reporting
When was the last time you reviewed your credit report? Be sure to check your credit reports for any suspicious activity. There are three major credit bureau reporting agencies and – depending on where you apply for credit – the credit-issuing company may review reports from one or all of these to determine your credit rating. You are entitled to a free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus:

We recommend you customarily review your reports to review for errors and for credit that may have been obtained through illegally using your identity. Upon obtaining your report, review it carefully and immediately notify the reporting agency of any errors. Each of the agencies provides information on how to correct any errors you may find.

You can also freeze your credit. Contact each credit bureau and request a "credit freeze." You will be given a PIN that will be required to un-freeze your account. This will prevent anyone from opening an account in your name. According to the FTC, a freeze does not affect one's credit rating. However, you will have to unfreeze it to get new credit, and there is a fee. For more details, see the Federal Trade Commission's Credit Freeze FAQs.

Be sure to set a fraud alert. Contact at least one of the credit bureaus to request a fraud alert. This way credit card companies will be required to verify your identity before opening an account. Fraud alerts must be renewed every 90 days.

Finally, remember your loved ones. Be sure to follow the above steps for your loved ones without computer access to make sure they are protected as well.