Beware: Online Banking Phishing Schemes Are On the Rise

Banking online is a convenient and time saving way of managing and keeping track of your company’s finances.

Weak security practices, though, can make it more possible for cyber-thieves and hackers to steal your hard-earned money. It is important to make sure that all possible steps are taken to safeguard your company’s finances.

Online banking is a tool that many businesses utilize because of the ease, efficiency, and convenience it offers.

It’s a great way to manage finances in your day-to-day operations. Unforunately, as more businesses turn to online banking, cyberthieves and hackers who target small companies are becoming more adept at stealing from companies online.

Security experts are urging companies to beef up their security systems to keep them safe from cyber and identity theft.

The more companies rely on the Internet, especially when it comes to managing finances through online banking, the more prudent it is to take steps to prevent that hardearned money from being stolen or diverted to someone else’s account.

One tip experts give is to establish proper protocols for transacting with the bank, such as requiring two people to verify a transaction before it is approved.

This helps create a checks-and-balance system that hackers can’t bypass.

Having a dedicated workstation used for only online financial transactions is also recommended, as this lessens the likelihood of it being infiltrated by Trojans, viruses, spyware, and other malware that may come from the machine being used for other purposes.

Having the right anti-virus and antimalware software – and keeping it updated – also goes a long way in keeping your online banking transactions safe from unfriendly eyes.

Your finances are the lifeblood of your business. If you’re interested in how you can make your online banking experience more safe and secure, we’d be happy to sit down with you to discuss security solutions that are tailor-fit to your specific requirements and needs.

Give us a call at the office, (734) 457-5001.

Do You Roll Out The Red Carpet For Identity Thieves?

Just about every web site you visit these days wants you to register and choose a password, especially when making a purchase.

However, if you do this carelessly, you may be setting yourself up as an easy prey for online criminals.

Although we know we should choose unique and hard to decipher passwords that contain both numbers and letters, most people still use easy to remember passwords and words for their convenience.

Below are the top 10 passwords used online according to PC Magazine. If you are using any of the following, you’re putting a big red bullseye on your account for identity theft:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. qwerty
  4. abc123
  5. letmein
  6. monkey
  7. myspace1
  8. password1
  9. link182
  10. [your first name]

If you want to avoid having to remember dozens of hard-to-remember passwords, Robo Form is a great FREE software you can download without having to fear adware or spyware. RoboForm was named PC Magazine Editor’s Choice, and CNET Download. com’s Software of the Year.

After you download the software, it memorizes your passwords and logs you in automatically to every web page with one click.

Best of all, it encrypts your passwords and generates random passwords that hackers cannot guess. You can even back up your passwords so you can copy them to another computer.

Top Mistakes That Make You A Prime Target For Identity Theft

The numbers are staggering: according to the 2007 Identity Fraud Report, identity theft cost consumers and businesses a whopping $56.6 billion dollars.

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your name, Social Security number (SSN), bank account number, or credit card to open accounts, make purchases, or commit other fraudulent crimes.

The Methods They Use to Steal Your Identity
The methods identity thieves use include low tech strategies (like going through your trash can, also known as “dumpster diving”) to highly sophisticated phishing scams that include cloned PayPal or bank websites that trick you into giving your username, password, or account number.

Other ways include:

  • Stealing records from an employer or bribing an employee who has access to the records.
  • Hacking into the company’s employee records.
  • Stealing mail, such as bank account or credit card statements, tax documents, pre-approved credit cards, or new checks.
  • Abusing employer’s access to credit reports.

How Identity Theft Affects You
Once someone has stolen your identity, they can use your credit cards or bank account to purchase expensive consumer goods like computers and electronics that can easily be resold for cash.

They can also open and charge up new credit cards, which can be a real mess to straighten out with vendors and credit reporting agencies.

Other criminal activities include taking out auto loans in your name, opening a new phone or wireless service in your name, or writing counterfeit checks to drain your bank account. Some have even used it to file for bankruptcy to avoid paying debts they’ve incurred.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Employees
Never give your personal information, Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account numbers over the phone or online unless you know for certain you are dealing with a legitimate company.

Make sure your employees are given an AUP (acceptable use policy) that educates them on the dangers of phishing scams and spam e-mails designed to either trick you into giving your information or installing a virus that secretly steals the information stored on your PC without your knowledge.

You can recognize a secure website, as it has an https:// at the beginning of the web address (regular web sites only have http: and no “s”) at the top of the page on which you are submitting your information.

It also must have a picture of a lock in the bottom right corner of the page. If you don’t see both of these measures in place, do not submit your information.

And even if you DO see this, use a credit card instead of a debit card or pay by check option because you’ll get security protection from your card’s issuer.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express all have a zero liability policy. If you notify the bank of unauthorized trans-actions, you pay nothing.

Shred all medical bills, financial statements, credit card applications, tax statements, or any other mail that contains confidential information about you before you throw them into the trash.

Never open e-mails or attachments from e-mail addresses you are unfamiliar with, and NEVER respond to e-mails that ask you to verify your account information because your account is being closed, suspended, or charged.

If you want to verify this, call the bank or the company to see if it was a legitimate e-mail.

Signs That You’ve Fallen Victim to Identity Theft  
If you see any unexplained charges or withdrawals from your bank accounts, if you receive credit cards that you did not apply for, or if you start receiving bills or collection letters for items you have not purchased, someone may have stolen your identity.

Always follow up with the business or institution to find out exactly what is causing the situation as quickly as possible. The faster you act on identity theft, the easier it will be for you to clear your name.