Protect Yourself

Identity Theft

Prevent Identity Theft

  • Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
  • Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
  • Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address you know. Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer; keep them up-to-date.
  • Don’t use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
  • If you shop or bank online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. An encrypted site has “https” at the beginning of the web address; “s” is for secure.
  • If you use public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
  • Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
  • Be alert to signs that require immediate attention:
    • Bills that do not arrive as expected
    • Unexpected credit cards or account statements
    • Denials of credit for no apparent reason
    • Calls or letters about purchases you did not make
  • Inspect your credit report.
    • The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it.
    • Visit or call 1.877.322.8228 to order your free credit reports each year.
  • Inspect your financial statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make.

Identity Theft Tips

  • Identity theft is a serious crime. It can disrupt your finances, credit history, and reputation, and take time, money, and patience to resolve. Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission.

Identity thieves might:

  • Go through trash cans and dumpsters, stealing bills and documents that have sensitive information.
  • Work for businesses, medical offices, or government agencies, and steal personal information on the job.
  • Misuse the name of a legitimate business, and call or send emails that trick you into revealing personal information.
  • Pretend to offer a job, a loan, or an apartment, and ask you to send personal information to "qualify."
  • Steal your wallet, purse, backpack, or mail, and remove your credit cards, driver's license, passport, health insurance card, and other items that show personal information.

Red Flags of Identity Theft

  • Mistakes on your bank, credit card, or other account statements
  • Mistakes on the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan
  • Your regular bills and account statements don't arrive on time
  • Bills or collection notices for products or services you never received
  • Calls from debt collectors about debts that don't belong to you
  • A notice from the IRS that someone used your Social Security number
  • Mail, email, or calls about accounts or jobs in your minor child's name
  • Unwarranted collection notices on your credit report
  • Businesses turn down your checks
  • You are turned down unexpectedly for a loan or job

Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft

  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports:
    • Equifax: 1.800.525.6285
    • Experian: 1.888.397.3742
    • TransUnion: 1.800.680.7289
  • Close Accounts
  • File a police report
  • Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission
    • Online:
    • By phone: 1.877.438.4338
    • By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580

Repairing Your Credit After Identity Theft

If you know an identity thief tampered with some of your accounts, you may have contacted the related businesses already. After you get your credit reports, read them to see whether other fraudulent transactions or accounts are listed, and then take steps to correct the errors.
Your credit report is full of information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, or have filed for bankruptcy. The information in your credit report is used to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, and renting a home, so it’s important that the information is accurate and up-to-date. Check all key information, including your:

  • name
  • address
  • Social Security number
  • employers

If you see errors on the report, like accounts you didn’t open or debts you didn’t incur, dispute the errors with the credit reporting companies and the fraud department of each business that reported an error.
If the errors result from identity theft and you have an Identity Theft Report, ask the credit reporting companies and business to block the disputed information from appearing on your credit reports. The credit reporting companies must block transactions and accounts if you are an identity theft victim.
Get Copies of Documents Used by the Thief
As you contact businesses to make corrections, ask for copies of any documents the identity thief used to open a new account or make charges in your name. Here's how:
Contact the business that has records of the fraudulent transactions. Our sample letter can help.
Give written permission to a law enforcement officer to contact the company on your behalf. Ask for copies of documents the thief used to open new accounts or charge purchases in your name.
Send details about where or when the fraudulent transactions took place.
Include a copy of your Identity Theft Report or the proof the business requires, and proof of your identity.
The business must send you free copies of the records within 30 days of getting your request. For example, if you dispute a debt on a credit card account you did not open, ask for a copy of the application and applicant’s signature.

Stay Smart

  • Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request.
  • If you are unsure whether a contact claiming to be from McIntosh County Bank is legitimate, contact your local bank office.
  • Delete any e-mail without opening it if you don’t recognize the sender.
  • Only provide your personal information if you initiated the sign on process to your internet banking account with McIntosh County Bank.
  • Use virus protection software and keep it up-to-date.
  • Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct.
  • Report lost or stolen checks or debit cards immediately.
  • Notify us of suspicious phone calls or e-mails.
  • Guard your Debit Card and PIN numbers.  Do not give your card or card number to anyone you don’t know, or to a merchant you do not trust.  And never give your PIN to anyone!
  • Use a paper shredder to destroy any unwanted solicitations or bank statements before disposing of them.
  • Call about any questionable charge on your statement.  
  • Contact the major credit reporting agencies.  You can review your credit report and make certain the information contained in it is correct by contacting the three major credit bureaus:
  • Receive a free annual credit report.  Visit or call 1-877-322-8228 to obtain a free credit report, once a year, from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

Protect yourself from Check Fraud

An ongoing scam is swindling consumers: counterfeit checks that seem legitimate to both bank employees and consumers, but leaves unsuspecting consumers footing the bill. The Federal Trade Commission has a website which explains common angles used in these scams, the responsibilities of banks and consumers when it comes to counterfeit checks, and advice on how to avoid these increasingly common traps.

While the angles used by scam artists may vary, the basics of the counterfeit check scheme remain the same. The consumer receives a generous check with an explanation that they’ve just won an award, a prize, a lottery or some other windfall. The consumer is instructed to deposit the check and wire a portion back to pay fees, taxes, or the like. The consumer deposits the check, the bank credits the funds to the consumer’s account, and the consumer wires the money to the sender. Sometime later, both the bank and the consumer learn the check was bogus. Unfortunately, the consumer is out of luck: the money that was wired can’t be retrieved and, by law, the consumer is responsible for the deposited check – even though they didn’t know it was fake.

The FTC advises consumers not to rely on funds from checks unless they know and trust the person who gave them the check or, better yet, until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Other advice includes:

  • Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it’s free or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Free is free.
  • Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are phony.
  • Know who you’re dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
  • If you’re selling something, don’t accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.
  • As a seller, suggest an alternative way for the buyer to pay, like an escrow service or online payment service. There may be a charge for an escrow service. If the buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service you’ve never heard of, check it out. Visit its website, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. Call the customer service line. If there isn’t one — or if you call and can’t get answers about the service’s reliability — don’t use the service. To learn more about escrow services and online payment systems, visit
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.
  • If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.
  • Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

For more information and tips regarding Check Fraud, visit

Mobile Banking

What is mobile banking?

  • Mobile banking is a system that allows customers of a financial institution to conduct a number of financial transactions through a mobile device such as a mobile phone or personal digital assistant.
  • Mobile app – Some banks offer a mobile “app” allowing you to log into your accounts and conduct business.  
  • Mobile web browser – This allows you to login to your account through the internet using your phone’s browser and internet connection.
  • SMS/text – You can set up text alerts or text your bank for information about your accounts.
  • How to make mobile banking safer:
  • Don’t get phished – Avoid clicking on links in text messages or emails, since these links may lead to malicious websites or downloads.
  • Don’t save login information on your mobile device, especially to online banking or e-commerce sites.
  • Have a passcode on your device and set it to auto-lock after a certain period of time.
  • Before downloading any app, make sure it is from a known provider, and then read the app’s privacy policy to make sure that it is not sharing your personal information.
  • Carefully review your mobile phone bills for any suspicious charges or activity.
  • Create secure passwords and keep your PIN safe. Change your password often, and do not use your pets’ names, your child’s name, or any birthdays.
  • Consider installing a security app from one of the known and reliable security providers.

Disposing of Your Mobile Device

  • How to Remove Personal Information
    • First, try to use the factory reset. Many devices allow you to “wipe” your device and clear nearly all the information in its memory. Sometimes, this is called a “hard reset,” or “factory reset.” You may be able to save or transfer the information to your new device before you delete it from your old one. For detailed instructions on how to “wipe” your device, read your owner’s manual or check the website of your mobile provider or the device manufacturer.
    • Second, remove or erase SIM and SD cards. Many mobile devices store information on a SIM card or an external SD card as well as in the device’s internal memory. If you’re keeping your phone number, ask your mobile provider about transferring your SIM card to your new device. SD cards often contain photos and other sensitive information. Even when you “wipe” your device, your SIM card or SD cards may retain information about you. Remove them from your device or delete the data that’s stored on them.
  • Checking Twice
    • After you’ve deleted your personal information, it’s good to double-check to make sure it’s gone. Check your:
      • phone book
      • logs for both dialed and received calls
      • voicemails
      • sent and received emails and text messages
      • downloads and other folders
      • search histories
      • personal photos
    • If you stored apps on your device, remove them and the data associated with them.
  • Discarding with Care
    • Once you have a “clean” phone, it’s up to you to decide what to do next.
    • Recycling it is one option. Many mobile device manufacturers, wireless service providers, and other groups have programs to refurbish mobile devices or recycle their components, including accessories like chargers. For more information, check the websites of:
      • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
      • CTIA-The Wireless Association
      • Your carrier
    • Another option is to donate your device. Many organizations collect used mobile devices for charitable purposes. You also might decide to trade in your device for a credit toward a new one; resell it to a person or an organization; or just dispose of it altogether. If that’s your choice, keep the environment in mind. The EPA recommends that you check with your local health and sanitation agencies for their preferred way to dispose of electronics.

Debit Card: Traveling with your debit card

5 Simple ways to lower your fraud risk.

1.  Contact your financial institution.
If you are traveling to a different country or another region of the United States, please share this information with your financial institution or credit card provider.  Share as much detail as possible…dates of travel, cities, and how you can be reached.

2.  Clean out your wallet.
It is a good to take more than 1 method of payment along to cover your needs and expenses. Carrying a lot of credit and debit cards on vacation only increases the likelihood that one of them will become lost or stolen.  Be sure to only carry what you need.  You should also know who to notify in case your card is lost or stolen.

3.  Be careful of the ATM you select.
Many fraudsters will place a skimming device on an ATM for a specific time to capture the card and PIN numbers.  This skimming device fits over the existing slot to insert your card.  These are generally found on unmonitored ATM’s, (example: hotel lobbies, restaurants, and etc.)  If something seems suspicious, select another ATM.  You should also make sure that there is no one looking over your shoulder when entering your PIN number.

4.  Keep an eye on your cards.
Food servers and store clerks can steal information easily with a skimming device or writing down your card information.  If something seems fishy, consider paying with cash.  

5.  Monitor your account frequently.
Checking your account online is a great way to combat fraud.  Review your transactions frequently and notify your Financial Institution immediately of any transactions that you did not make.  If you are not currently using Online Banking with McIntosh County Bank, you can sign up on the home page of our website under Online Banking.

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