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How to Protect Yourself

At Bank First, we believe being informed is the first step you can take to help you protect your personal and financial information. Below you will find tips to protect your identity and your business including online, mobile and email security. Expand each section to learn more.

Protecting Your Identity

Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Bank First recommends following these tips to keep your information – and your wallet – safe.

Don’t share your secrets

Do not 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, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away. Bank First offers multiple Shred Days each year to assist in safely destroying sensitive information. Follow us on Facebook to receive updates on our Shred Days!

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 online banking and e-statements 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

Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.

Monitor your credit report

Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at

Protect your computer

Make sure the virus protection software 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.

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 for senders you don’t know.

What to do if you are a victim

Immediately call your bank and credit card issuers so they can close your accounts. Visit our Identity Fraud page for more information.

Protecting Yourself Online

Although the Internet has many advantages, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft, and other scams. Bank First recommends the following tips to keep you safe online.

Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date

Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

Set strong passwords

A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

TIP: Make your password a sentence or phrase that means something to you, but incorporate acronyms to make it even stronger! For example, “BFimffp.Hw#4.” (Brett Favre is my favorite football player. He was #4.)

Store your password wisely

Crediting a password is easy; remembering it is the hard part. Keep a list that is stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.

Watch out for phishing scams

Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. 

Watch out for Impostors

Cybercriminals are now claiming to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents. The IRS will never email you or call you demanding for immediate payment without having first mailed a bill. Nor will they ask for a credit card or debit card number via email or phone.

Keep personal information personal

Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

Secure your internet connection

Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.

Shop safely

Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

Read the site’s privacy policies

Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.

Protecting Your Mobile Device

Your mobile devise provides convenience access to your email, bank, shopping, and social media accounts. However, as wireless devices become increasingly imbedded into our daily lives, they open the door to heightened security risks. Not only are mobile devices convenient access points for criminals, but they may also be more easily breached than personal computers.

Bank First recommends the following tips to keep you from harm’s way.

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.

Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware

Do this just as your protect your computer by installing mobile security software.

Use caution when downloading apps

Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”

Avoid storing sensitive information

This includes storing passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.

Be aware of shoulder surfers

The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when typing in sensitive information.

Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it

Use specialized software or the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.

Beware of mobile phishing

Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.

Watch out for public Wi-Fi

Public connections aren’t very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.

Protecting Your Business Account

Corporate account takeover is a type of fraud in which thieves garner an individual’s credentials (user name, password, etc.) to gain access to a business’ accounts to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees to payroll, and stealing sensitive customer information that may not be recoverable.

Bank First recommends following these tips to keep your business safe.

Educate your employees

You and your employees are the first line of defense against corporate account takeover. A strong security program paired with employee education about the warning signs, safe practices, and responses to a suspected takeover are essential to protecting your company and customers.

Protect your online environment

It is important to protect your cyber environment just as you would your cash and physical location. Do not use unprotected internet connections. Encrypt sensitive data and keep updated virus protections on your computer. Use complex passwords and change them periodically.

Partner with your banker to prevent unauthorized transactions

Talk to your banker about programs that safeguard you from unauthorized transactions. Positive Pay and other services offer call backs, device authentication, multi-person approval processes and batch limits help protect you from fraud.

Pay attention to suspicious activity and react quickly

Look out for unexplained account or network activity, pop ups, and suspicious emails. If detected, immediately contact us at (920) 652-3100, stop all online activity and remove any systems that may have been compromised. Keep records of what happened.

Understand your responsibilities and liabilities

The account agreement with us will detail what commercially reasonable security measures are required in your business. It is critical that you understand and implement the security safeguards in the agreement. If you don’t, you could be liable for losses resulting from a takeover. Contact us at (920) 652-3100 if you have any questions about your responsibilities.

Additional Resources

You can also visit the following websites to learn more about how to protect your business:

Protect Yourself From Phishing Scams

Phishing attacks use 'spoofed' e-mails, text alerts, and fraudulent websites designed to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, Social Security numbers, etc. By hijacking the trusted brands of well-known banks, online retailers and credit card companies, phishers are able to convince recipients to respond to them. The email or text can look just like it comes from a financial institution, e-commerce site, government agency or any other service or business. It often urges you to act quickly because your account has been compromised in some way.

The average cost of a data breach due to a phishing scam is approximately $4 million, enough to bankrupt a successful business. Bank First recommend the following steps to protect you from these costly attacks.

Do not respond to direct links in emails, text messages or phone calls

Instead, contact your local Bank First office directly. Phone numbers are listed on the Locations tab on our web site. Remember, we will never contact you and ask for your account information. 

Delete email and text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information

This includes credit card and bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc.. Companies don’t ask for this information via email or text.

Be cautious of alerts received in the mail

Again, scammers can easily create a false alert and ask that you call them with your account information. Again, confirm that the number you are calling is legitimate before responding.

Monitor your accounts frequently

An easy way to do so is with our Internet Banking or our goBank mobile app. Watch for unauthorized transactions and contact us immediately if you see anything suspicious.  

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