Tips to Protect Yourself Online and Your Identity

At Park Sterling Bank, protecting your account information is our number one priority. We take extra precautions to ensure your information is safe and secure whether you are banking online, on your mobile device, and/or at any of our branches. Even with all the precautions we already have in place, there are many more actions you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and account fraud.

If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following steps:

  • Contact the three major credit bureaus and request a "fraud alert" be placed on your file and no new credit be granted without your approval.
  • Close any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened.
  • File a local police report and get a copy of the report to your bank, credit card company or others that may need proof of the crime.

It is important for you to know that we will never ask for your personal information such as online banking username, password, PIN, address or social security number by email.

Please review the steps below to learn more about how you can protect yourself from identity theft, online fraud, and even your mobile device.

Remember to report any suspected fraud activity to Park Sterling immediately.

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Online Security Tips

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Protect Your Mobile Devices

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Identity Theft Protection

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Protect Your Identity
During the Holidays

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7 Tips to Prevent
Tax ID Fraud

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Follow these important tips to stay safe and secure online:

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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. Your password should be at least 8 characters in length and include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.

 
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Watch out for phishing scams. Fraudulent emails and websites 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 do not know and trust.

Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov - and to the company, bank or organization impersonated in the email.

Keep personal information personal. Hackers 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 that come from people you do not know.

 
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Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to a public wifi network, be cautious about what information you send over it.

Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure that the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check for a tiny padlock symbol 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.

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Follow these important tips to keep your mobile device safe and secure:

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.

Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.

Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.

 

Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for 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."

Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.

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

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.

Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.

 

Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you're punching in sensitive information.

 

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.

 

Report any suspected fraud to Park Sterling Bank immediately.

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To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft follow these tips:

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 eStatements through online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don't mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.

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

 

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 from senders you don't know.

Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.

 

Don't share your secrets. Don't 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, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

 

Report any suspected fraud to Park Sterling Bank immediately.

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Protect Your Identity During the Holidays

Give yourself the gift of Sterling Security. Protect your identity, monitor your credit and more with our Sterling Security program.

Set up transaction alerts for your accounts through the Park Sterling mobile app.

 

Turn your debit card "off" when you are not using it. With the Park Sterling mobile app, you can turn your debit card "off" in between transactions and turn it back "on" when you are ready to use it.

Be smart with your passwords. Don't choose easy-to-guess passwords or PINs. Create a strong, unique password for each account that is not tied to something about you (like a birthday or anniversary). Set up email alerts in the mobile app to be alerted if your password has changed.

Beware of email phishing scams. Online criminals send emails that appear to be from the U.S. Postal Service or other known retailers with attachments for tracking. Don't open any attachments until you run them through a virus scan.

 

Keep a watchful eye on your accounts. Log in to online banking or the mobile app to review your accounts each week. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, report it immediately.

 

Report any suspected fraud to Park Sterling Bank immediately.

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7 Tips to Prevent Tax ID Fraud

As tax season gets underway, be sure follow these tips and take extra precautions when filing your return to prevent exposure to tax fraud:

File early. File your tax return as soon as you're able giving criminals less time to use your information to file a false return.

 

Beware of phishing scams by email, text or phone. Scammers may try to solicit sensitive information by impersonating the IRS. Know that the IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail first.

 

File on a protected Wi-Fi network. If you're using an online service to file your return, be sure you're connected to a password-protected personal network. Avoid using public networks like a Wi-Fi hotspot at a coffee shop.

 

Use a secure mailbox. If you're filing by mail, drop your tax return at the post office or an official postal box instead of your mailbox at home. Some criminals look for completed tax return forms in home mailboxes during tax season.

 

Find a tax preparer you trust. If you're planning to hire someone to do your taxes, get recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before handing over all of your financial information.

 

Shred what you don't need. Once you've completed your tax return, shred the sensitive documents that you no longer need and safely file away the ones you do.

 

Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for W-2s, tax refunds or other mail containing your financial information. If you don't receive your W-2s, and your employer indicates they've been mailed, or it looks like it has been previously opened upon delivery, contact the IRS immediately.

 

If you believe you're a victim of tax identity theft, alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. In addition, you should:

Respond immediately to any IRS notice and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.

Contact Park Sterling Bank immediately, and close any accounts opened without your permission or tampered with.

Contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records:

Equifax (1-800-525-6285)
Experian (1-888-397-3742)
TransUnion (1-800-680-7289)

Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.

More information about tax identity theft is available from the FTC and the IRS.