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Support & Security

Customer Support Blog

Welcome to our Support & Security page! Nebraska State Bank will post tips here on how to protect yourself from common scams, as well as discuss other safety and security issues that might affect our customers.

If you have gotten suspicious calls, letters, emails or online messages, or you feel like something isn’t quite right with your account, please contact us immediately at (308) 772-3234.

October 2021: NSB’s Money Saving Tips

With the holidays coming up, Nebraska State Bank wanted to share our tips for saving money. There are many things you can do to trim the financial fat, and here are a few:

I believe the number one habit you can have is that when you get paid, you prepare a budget to lay out a plan for how you are going to use your money. It is a great way to keep control over where you are spending it.

Another good habit is to save money every month so that you develop an emergency fund, and you don’t have to rely on expensive credit cards when something unexpected happens.—Jim Levick

 

Do a budget for every two-week pay period. It takes a while to get it down, but just calculate what is needed for those two weeks for groceries, dining, clothing, etc. and use an envelope for each category.

That way, you only use the cash you have for that category and when it’s gone it’s gone, and you have to wait until next pay period for more. This really helps you decide if you “need” something, and helps avoid overspending on things like eating out.—Amber Levick

 

Take snacks and drinks on road trips so you don’t have to stop at convenience stores along the way.

Keep the thermostat a couple degrees higher during the day so the A/C doesn’t run as much when you are not home.

Cook at home, take a lunch to work, and limit the times per week that you eat out.—Tim Paisley

 

My tip: Don’t take your teenage daughter into Target with you.

Seriously though, write or type your budget, print it out, and keep it handy!  It has been proven that you have a better chance of achieving your goals when they’re written down.—Steph Yates

 

Call your TV and phone providers, and inquire about the ways you can lower your monthly bill.

Ask if there’s a cheaper package that would suit you, and ask if there are any fees being applied that the company is willing to waive. They all have competition, and may be willing to work with you to keep your business.—Kari Gortemaker

 

Pay off credit cards every month if possible. Also, look for coupons that can be applied to your account, and instead of using card points to buy products or services, use them to pay off your balances.—Denise Callihan

 

Buy food that’s on sale at the store, then plan your weekly meals around those items to save money on your grocery bill.—Tianna Sleep

 

Set a strict budget for your hobby, and don’t let emotions overrule your spending limit.

It’s fun to collect goodies like cars, boats, weapons, quilts, clothes, housewares, and gadgets. However, even if they have the potential to be money makers when you sell them, it doesn’t make sense to constantly splurge on purchases, get short on cash, and then go overdrawn or pay for things with your credit card.

Stay within your budget and you’ll be able to enjoy those items even more.—Rick Jensen

 

September 2021: Phishing–Don’t Get Caught!

Fishing with an F is great. Phishing with a P, when scumbags contact you to scam you,  is decidedly not.

So the FTC and the American Bankers Association put together this infographic, which includes great tips on how not to be scammed. Read up and be on alert!

The Bad Kind Of Phishing

How To Avoid The Bad Kind Of Phishing

 

August 2021: Watch For Vehicle VIN History Scams

We were recently approached with a clever scam while selling a car online. Here’s what the scammers sent, and how we figured it out.

We posted the vehicle for sale on several sites, including Craigslist. Soon after, we got this email through Craigslist:

Vehicle VIN Scam Email1

Shady Craigslist Email 1

There’s a word missing, but overall it seemed like it could be a legit message. However, they did request our personal email immediately.

It should be noted that for privacy’s sake, some online sites like Craigslist take your personal email address, but create an anonymous email address so everyone can communicate without personal email addresses being shown.

This person’s personal email request isn’t necessarily a huge red flag, as they could just be excited to buy a vehicle and want to get to know the seller immediately. So we said sure, and sent them a personal email address.

However, things went downhill when they sent the next email:

Vehicle VIN Scam Email 2

Shady Craigslist Email 2

This message’s bad grammar was immediately noticeable, as was the urgency (need something rather soon) and the request to use a specific vehicle history website (get me the report from checkfinancecar.com, my loan officer asked for). Big time red flags. So we did some research.

Here’s what that website looks like. It looks professional enough, and even says they partner with Experian, one of the well-known consumer credit reporting agencies.

Vehicle VIN Scam 3

Shady Vehicle VIN History Site

However, a quick Google search of checkfinancecar.com resulted in numerous complaints that it is a fraudulent site looking to get personal information.

Now, we wouldn’t have used this vehicle history site regardless, because we’ve only used Carfax before and it is universally accepted by buyers and sellers.

But if we hadn’t known about Carfax, it would have been very easy to be taken by this scam, so be wary!

July 2021: Investment Scams: Don’t Get Hooked!

We all wish we could get rich quick. And unfortunately, there are tons of investment scams online, on TV, on the phone and in the mail to bait us.

To be uneducated about them is to be easy prey. So here are some ways you can protect yourself, courtesy of Denver, CO District Attorney Beth McCann.

First, listen for key words and phrases when being pitched an investment or service:

  • “Risk-free, high yield, low risk, guaranteed income, financial freedom.” These all sound great. But no investment is risk-free, and income is never guaranteed.
  • “Earn big money fast, regardless of your experience or training.” Promises of making big money fast is a big red flag.
  • “A sure thing that will give you security for years to come.” Don’t let a smooth talker convince you that any investment is a sure thing.
  • “Rake in money by working part-time at home.” Most at-home jobs, especially part-time ones, don’t pay big money. And some are posted by fake companies that send a fake check and disappear after you do the work.
  • “We’ll coach you to success each step of the way.” Once you pay someone for training/coaching, many times they disappear fast, never to be seen again.

Next, before you invest, consider the following:

  • Statistics and testimonials can be faked. Scammers want you to believe their program is always successful. They might show reviews or testimonials by people who’ve used their program and made lots of money. But those could be paid actors or made-up reviews. If you can’t confirm their stories, don’t invest.
  • Scammers exaggerate the significance of current events. They follow the headlines and use current events to make their investment opportunity seem exciting, innovative, and timely. They want you to feel pressured to commit now, without having fully researched the offer.
  • Scammers might claim that you can make thousands of dollars per day or per month for life. But they don’t tell you the risks, and no one can guarantee that a solid investment will be successful—let alone a sketchy investment.
  • Scammers give vague answers to questions about the investment. They focus only on how much money you’ll supposedly make.

And finally, before you invest, take the time to research:

  • Look for published information about the company. Do an online search about the company and add ‘scam’ or ‘complaint’ and see what comes up.
  • Check that the security is registered with the state securities regulators, or the SEC’s EDGAR database found at www.investor.gov .

June 2021: 100 Years of Banking In Oshkosh!

Old Timey Stock Certificate

Old Timey Stock Certificate from 1921

Today marks exactly 100 years since Nebraska State Bank was started!
Here’s an interesting tidbit: did you know that two of the people who were originally at The First State Bank helped start Nebraska State Bank?
Recently, one of our customers gave us this amazing The First State Bank shares certificate from 1921. Such an intricate design, and in such pristine shape as well.
We hope you’ll come join us for burgers and hot dogs this Friday June 4, to celebrate our centennial. The party’s happening from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind Nebraska State Bank!

 

Old Timey Stock Certificate-Back

Back of Old Timey Stock Certificate from 1921

May 2021: Possible Scummy Passes Funny Money

Fake $20 Bill

Fake $20 bill “For Motion Picture Use”

Ever watch those shows where some dirtbag has huge pallets of money stacked up? If you’ve ever wondered where all that green comes from, there are companies that supply movie studios with fake money that looks real from a distance. In fact, those companies get input from the Secret Service, to ensure that enough design elements are “off” that they don’t look totally real!

Fake $20 Bill Backside

Fake $20 bill “For Motion Picture Use”

Recently, a local business was accidentally or deliberately slipped this fake $20. While obvious when you look closely at the “Motion Picture Use” wording, when compared to a real bill the fake is quite similar. NSB Cashier Bev sussed this $20 out by the different texture compared to real money. However, since businesses count tons of 20s a day, it is very easy for something this good to sneak through.
So keep an eye out for dodgy bills. It would make a good souvenir for sure, but you might not want to pay $20 for it!

April 2021: Online Investing and Cryptocurrency–Be Careful!

Online investing apps and cryptocurrency have become very popular. While your purchases are entirely your business, please understand that both investment vehicles can be extremely risky.

Regarding stock market investing apps like Robinhood, they are fine if you like to play around with penny stocks, and don’t dump a bunch of money in. However, many times those in the know early (Wall Street) are the ones who profit, and those of us who hear about a surging stock in the news are oftentimes already too late to benefit.

To make matters worse, some investing platforms have been freezing trading on popular stocks, so you can’t even invest in the ones that are going up!

And regarding cryptocurrency like Simplex, Bitcoin, and Dogecoin, they’re highly volatile. No one knows if they’ll increase in value or drop like a stone. It’s exciting to think you could end up on the ground floor of the next Bitcoin, but you could very easily lose a bunch of money trying to do so.

We’re not saying you should save your money so you can put it in our bank. We’re saying that the risk to reward ratio is so high on stock apps and crypto, we’d prefer that you put it anywhere but there!
If you have any questions about stable investment vehicles like CDs, IRAs, and the like, please contact us to learn more.

March 2021 Stimulus Payment Information

Stimulus Details
The U.S. government approved another round of stimulus payments on March 11, with a maximum amount of $1,400 per person. Here are a few quick facts about this stimulus plan, as well as tips to avoid the inevitable stimulus scams.

• Those eligible for the full $1,400: married couples making less than $150,000, and individuals earning less than $75,000.

• Those possibly eligible for a lower amount: married couples making less than $160,000, heads of households making less than $120,000, and individuals earning less than $80,000.

• People with children are also eligible for an additional $1,400 per dependent.

• You’ll receive your money in one of three methods: ACH bank deposit, check, or debit card.

• If your banking info is on file with the IRS, you’ll get an ACH (electronic) deposit in your bank account as soon as the week of March 15, though not everyone will receive this electronic deposit that quickly.

• If the IRS doesn’t have your banking info, you’ll get either a paper check from the US Treasury, or an EIP debit card.

• As with previous stimulus payments, debit card recipients will need to call the number on the card to determine the stimulus amount. For more information about how to use or cash your EIP debit card, please call Money Network Customer Service at (800) 240-8100, or visit www.eipcard.com/faq/

Stimulus Scams
• Do not deposit a check for someone else. Scammers may try to convince victims to deposit fraudulent U.S. Treasury checks, in their name or in others’ names, into the victim’s bank account. After the victim makes the deposit, the scammers request that the victim sends funds from that deposit to another account, or use those funds to purchase pre-paid cards.

• You don’t need to do anything before getting a check, even if you are a retiree and don’t file a tax return. So if someone offers to submit information for you, or says you must verify information before getting your check, they are trying to scam you.

• Another scam may send an odd amount, specifically including cents, and ask you to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

• Stimulus internet links or email attachments scam, do not open/click on these!

• Paying someone for “help” to get your stimulus check. Anyone claiming you should do this is a scammer.

In closing, remember that the IRS will never call, text, email, or contact you on social media to verify information!

March 2021: Great Ways To Save Some Green

10 Tips for Tough Financial Times on the Farm
In today’s tough farming and ranching environment, it pays to watch every penny. These tips from the American Bankers Association are helpful for watching your budget, and making the right decision for your operation when it counts.

Ask your banker about the USDA’s guaranteed farm and rural loan programs. Your debt can be restructured over a longer period at a lower rate if the USDA provides a credit guarantee to the bank. Nebraska State Bank specializes in these guaranteed loans through the Farm Service Agency, call (308) 772-3234 to speak with a loan officer for more details.

Cash is king. Carefully examine every capital purchase that will require additional debt. Ask yourself if the expenditure will generate the cash flow needed to pay for itself. If the new item can’t create enough new cash to pay for itself over a reasonable period of time, defer the purchase.

Let a farm budget be your financial road map. Without a budget, you’ll be financially lost. Use a farm budget to track all income and expenses and update it frequently—it will help you maintain the direction of the business.

Analyze your farm’s financial position and performance. Are you getting the maximum return from your investments? If not, why? Are your non-farm assets generating a maximum return? If not, can any be sold?

Examine your debt structure. Finance long-term assets, like real estate, with long-term debt. Finance shorter-term assets, like machinery, with shorter-term debt. Is it possible to increase your long-term debt to pay down your short-term debt? When deciding to use your long-term equity, make sure your need is extremely significant.

Prepare for your financial review with your banker. Have current inventories, cash flows and balance sheets ready, and provide the information your banker requests. If you are having financial problems, put your thoughts about how to resolve them on paper so your banker can review them with you.

Review your hazard and fire insurance coverage. Increasing your deductibles can lower your premium. Carefully review every item on your inventory list and consider eliminating coverage on obsolete or low-risk items.

Examine your life insurance policies. Many whole-life policies contain provisions that allow you to borrow against or deduct premium costs from the cash surrender value at low rates. What type of life insurance do you have? Is it worthwhile to maintain a costly whole life policy when you could get similar coverage from a less expensive term policy?

Deal with financial problems immediately. Talk to your banker early and often. A good way to avoid serious financial problems is to identify and resolve them early. Take a team approach; create a personal “board of directors” of people you know and respect—including your banker—who can be your sounding board.

Keep a clear perspective. Think through business problems by temporarily getting away from them. Take a weekend off, or resolve to get out and see at least one movie. However you do it, it is important for you to balance and shift your focus to other activities—it will make your home team stronger.

February 2021: You’ll Love These Security Tips

Device Security Tips For Traveling (Finally!)
With COVID restrictions ending, we can finally get out there and travel more. But when you do, keep the following tips from the National CyberSecurity Alliance in mind while you’re on the road to prevent your digital devices from being compromised:

If you connect it, protect it. The best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. Sign up for automatic updates, if you can, and protect your computer, smartphone, game device, or other network devices with anti-virus software.

Back up your information. Back up your contacts, financial data, photos, videos, and other mobile device data to another device or cloud service in case your device is compromised and you have to reset it to factory settings.

Connect only with people you trust. While some social networks might seem safer for connecting because of the limited personal information shared through them, keep your connections to people you know and trust.

Keep up to date. Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Maintain your security settings to keeping your information safe by turning on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it and set your security software to run regular scans.

Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). Using MFA will ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device such as your smartphone. iPhone users can look on the Apple Support page, and Android users can look in Google Account Help.

Stop auto connecting. Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks or Bluetooth devices. This instant connection opens the door for cyber criminals to remotely access your devices. Disable these features so that you actively choose when to connect to a safe network.

Stay protected while connected. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot—such as at an airport, hotel, or café—be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. And once you do, avoid sensitive activities like banking that require passwords or credit card numbers. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Only use sites that begin with “https://” when online shopping or banking.

Play hard to get with strangers. Cyber criminals use phishing tactics, hoping to fool their victims. If you’re unsure who an email is from—even if the details appear accurate—or if the email looks “phishy,” do not respond, and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. When available use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from a particular sender.

Never click and tell. Limit what information you post on social media—from personal addresses to where you like to grab coffee. What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all that criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings—online and in the real world. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address, birthday, and even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are—and where you aren’t—at any given time.

Guard your mobile devices. To prevent theft and unauthorized access or loss of sensitive information, never leave your equipment—including any USB or external storage devices—unattended in a public place. Keep your devices secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes, and in your hotel room.

January 2021: Should Auld Scammers Be Forgot

Text And Email = Great. Text and Email Scams = Not So Great
We all love text and email, as they allow us to not speak with our friends and family.

All kidding aside, it’s a pretty great form of communication. But a huge benefit of an actual phone call is that when a relative calls, we know it’s them, and not some creepy scammer.

So if you get a text or email from someone in your social circle stating that they’ve come into some money—lotto winnings, inheritance, etc.—and you just need to pay them a small amount to collect it—immediately look up your friend/relative’s phone number, and voice/video call them.

Criminals can fake your contacts’ numbers and names so they can chat you up, then try to scam you. So when money’s involved, don’t trust a text or email.

And in general, if you’re trying to do a transaction with someone who wants you to use some kind of gift card like google play cards, walk away.

Social Security Spoof Calls
Speaking of spoofing, scammers are also faking legitimate phone numbers/caller IDs to try to scam people out of social security numbers. So if you get a call that says in effect,” we found unusual activity on your social security number,” just ignore it.

December 2020: Such Bad Little Girls and Boys

COVID Scams Are Afoot
Just in time for Christmas comes a slew of COVID scams:

There’s the COVID test kit scam, which asks you to provide a credit card number or personal information to have a non-existent test kit shipped to you.

There’s a COVID vaccine hospital/VA scam, seen on hospital letterhead as well as VA hospital letterhead, which also asks for a card number or personal info in return for getting a non-existent COVID vaccine.

And there’s a treatment COVID scam, which asks you to part with your hard-earned money for questionable products that will not cure COVID, and if they’re shipped to you at all, they may harm you.

We’re all anxious to be done with this virus, but do not be taken by these fraudsters. These are all fake, but if there’s something about them that looks legitimate, like the letterhead of a local hospital, look up the hospital’s number and call them or your doctor directly to verify!

Fake Amazon “Tech Support” Scam
Scammers use the names of huge companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon, because they know that many of us use their services.

One current scam involves being contacted by someone, supposedly from Amazon, about a tech support issue with your phone. They will request remote access to your phone, and once they have it, they can access banking info, emails, texts…and wreak havoc.
While this usually affects non-iPhone phones, everyone should just ignore them!

Informative Online Scam Report
The Better Business Bureau has released an excellent report detailing the state of online scams in 2020, and it’s scary: In just the last five years, online purchase scams reported to the BBB resulting in a monetary loss increased 50 percent. Facebook and Google are two of the biggest platforms where these scams take place.

There’s a lot of useful info you can use to protect yourself and your family in this report, and you can view it here: BBB Online Scam Report

November 2020: It’s Black Friday For Scam Artists

Be Wary Of Bad Charities
Garden County residents have received checks in the mail from various fake charities, including a supposed disabled veterans’ foundation charity. The checks are normally only for a few dollars, and are sometimes accompanied by small gifts with the purpose of “guilting” you into donating.
Our residents were cautious enough not to send money, nor provide any personal or banking information—a good thing, since the checks couldn’t be cashed.

Charity donations are an important part of this wonderful holiday season, so if you want to donate to a reputable one, visit www.charitywatch.org or www.charitynavigator.org

Please Review Your Monthly Statements
As you sift through paperwork this tax season, Nebraska State Bank would like to remind you to review your account statements each month. You have 60 days from your statement date to receive credit for any incorrect transactions, after which all deposit and withdrawal slips are shredded.

October 2020: Avoid These Scary Scams

Screen of Death Tech Support Scam: an oldie but a goodie, this computer scam is making the rounds again:

First, your computer is infected, and then it shows a frozen screen and a message. Examples include “your computer has been locked/blocked/frozen,” “your credit card/banking/Facebook login details have been stolen,” “your computer has a virus,” or “call Microsoft tech support.”

When you call the provided phone number, a very convincing scammer tries to get you to pay for “tech support” to remove their malicious software. Do not call this number. Instead turn off your computer, and contact Nebraska State Bank immediately. We will decide what steps need to be taken to protect you and your accounts. And it’s critical that after such an attack, you take your computer to a reputable tech support business and have it wiped completely before it is safe to use again!

The best defense against computer viruses like this are high computer security settings, and quality anti-virus and anti-malware programs that automatically update and run daily.

Check Cashing Scam: someone calls you on the phone, and they offer to open a bank account in your name if you’ll just cash a couple checks for them. Turns out the checks are from a real bank account, but it doesn’t belong to the person on the phone! And if you fall for it, you could be pursued for any money owed from that transaction.

Just say no, or better yet, let your voicemail take every call that you don’t recognize!

September 2020: Current Scams

Here are the scams making the rounds right now:

Robocall Checking Account / Card Scam: an automated voice says that a large transaction has been initiated from your checking account or card, and asks you to say yes to authorize it. The tricky part is that it says if you want to cancel this transaction, to call the phone number of their “billing department” where they will try to get your account or card information. They are trying to steal your information, so don’t call them!

Child Trafficking SSN Scam: another troubling scam is a call saying that some of the digits in your social security number are being used in child trafficking. Again, do not engage these people, as they are fishing for your full social security number and other personal or financial information.

The lesson here is to first, let the answering machine/voice mail take any call that you don’t recognize. But if you pick up the phone, do not give them any information!

Don’t Click That Link!

Cyber scams have gotten so good that even we can nearly fall for them.
A recent rash of fake PayPal/Netflix emails have asked NSB employees and customers alike to click a link to update payment information. Of course they aren’t legitimate emails, and giving these scammers your account or card info can result in lost money and much frustration.

With our busy lives and occasionally changing card numbers, it’s easy to mindlessly click somewhere, update the numbers, and get on with our day. But instead of clicking an email link, first ask yourself, do I actually pay for this service or share it with a family member? Did I actually get an updated card number? Going to the website or mobile app itself is the safest way to check the account status.

Elder Fraud: $3 Billion Lost Each Year

According to the FBI, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud or confidence scheme. These scams cost seniors more than $3 billion each year.

Criminals gain your trust through computer, phone, and mail communication, as well as through TV and radio. Once successful, scammers are likely to keep a scheme going because of the prospect of significant financial gain.
Learn more about these scams below, so you don’t become a victim of these heinous crimes.

Common Elder Fraud Schemes

Romance scam: Criminals pose as interested romantic partners on social media or dating websites to capitalize on their elderly victims’ desire to find companions.

Tech support scam: Criminals pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues. The scammers gain remote access to victims’ devices and sensitive information.

Grandparent scam: Criminals pose as a relative—usually a child or grandchild—claiming to be in immediate financial need (in jail, etc.).

Government impersonation scam: Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.

Sweepstakes/charity/lottery scam: Criminals claim to work for legitimate charitable organizations to gain victims’ trust. Or they claim their targets have won a foreign lottery or sweepstake, which they can collect for a “fee.”

Home repair scam: Criminals appear in person and charge homeowners in advance for home improvement services that they never provide.

TV/radio scam: Criminals target potential victims using illegitimate advertisements about legitimate services, such as reverse mortgages or credit repair.
Family/caregiver scam: Relatives or acquaintances of the elderly victims take advantage of them or otherwise get their money.

How To Protect Yourself

  • Recognize scam attempts and end all communication with the perpetrator.
  • Search online for the person’s/company’s contact information (name, email, phone number, addresses) and the proposed offer. Other people have likely posted information online about individuals and businesses trying to run scams.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel there is a danger to yourself or a loved one.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door services offers.
  • Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
  • Make sure all computer anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • Disconnect from the internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by perpetrators to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on a pop-up.
  • Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
  • Take precautions to protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Immediately contact your bank to place protections on your accounts, and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.

For more information, please visit www.fbi.gov

How to Protect Your Computer

Here are some key steps to protecting your computer from intrusion:

  • Keep Your Firewall Turned On: A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who might try to gain access to crash it, delete information, or even steal passwords or other sensitive information. Software firewalls are widely recommended for single computers. The software is prepackaged on some operating systems or can be purchased for individual computers. For multiple networked computers, hardware routers typically provide firewall protection.
  • Install or Update Your Antivirus Software: Antivirus software is designed to prevent malicious software programs from embedding on your computer. If it detects malicious code, like a virus or a worm, it works to disarm or remove it. Viruses can infect computers without users’ knowledge. Most types of antivirus software can be set up to update automatically.
  • Install or Update Your Antispyware Technology: Spyware is just what it sounds like—software that is surreptitiously installed on your computer to let others peer into your activities on the computer. Some spyware collects information about you without your consent or produces unwanted pop-up ads on your web browser. Some operating systems offer free spyware protection, and inexpensive software is readily available for download on the Internet or at your local computer store. Be wary of ads on the Internet offering downloadable antispyware—in some cases these products may be fake and may actually contain spyware or other malicious code. It’s like buying groceries—shop where you trust.
  • Keep Your Operating System Up to Date: Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.
  • Be Careful What You Download: Carelessly downloading e-mail attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant anti-virus software. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of forwarded attachments from people you do know. They may have unwittingly advanced malicious code.
  • Turn Off Your Computer: With the growth of high-speed Internet connections, many opt to leave their computers on and ready for action. The downside is that being “always on” renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker’s connection—be it spyware or a botnet that employs your computer’s resources to reach out to other unwitting users.

For more information, please visit www.fbi.gov