ICBA Shares Tips on How to Protect Your Financial Information

Jan. 23, 2023

ICBA Press Release Banner 2020

Data Privacy Week is Jan. 23-27

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 23, 2023) — In recognition of Data Privacy Week, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) is reminding consumers of practical steps to help safeguard their sensitive data and protect against losses in the event of a data breach or compromise.

In the first half of 2022, there were 817 data breaches in the U.S., and combined with data leaks and data exposure, they impacted more than 53 million individuals.

“In today’s digital world, safeguarding personal information is essential,” ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said. “As financial stewards, community banks place the upmost care in protecting customer data and can be a great resource in helping consumers spot and report potential threats to minimize their risk exposure and help reduce any long-term consequences.”

Tips for Reducing Your Risk

While there is no panacea to avoid online identity theft, you can help minimize your risk by:

  • Restricting use of public wi-fi and computers — These networks may be convenient but are not as secure. If you must make purchases while away from your home or on work networks, use a virtual private network or personal mobile hotspot.

  • Limiting disclosed information — Never respond to requests for personal information such as your banking ID, account number, username or password, even if they appear to originate from your bank, government agencies or officials or companies with which you have a relationship.

  • Taking advantage of security features — Update your computer security software and apply software updates to your computer system, mobile devices, web browsers, and operating system regularly to defend against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

  • Monitoring account activity — Carefully review bank statements and card transactions and check your credit report regularly for unusual or unexplained charges, unknown accounts in your name, or unexpected denials on your card and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately.

  • Protecting each account with a unique, complex password — Utilizing numbers and symbols at least 12 characters long is a great rule of thumb, along with using a password manager. Use multifactor authentication for accounts that allow it.

  • Shredding documents with personal or sensitive information and changing your passwords.

Responding to a Data Breach

In the unfortunate event of a data breach, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk:

  • Consider a security freeze on your credit report to restrict access to your credit file.

  • Set up a fraud alert, which directs banks to verify your identity before opening a new account, issuing an additional card, or increasing the credit limit on an existing account.

  • Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and to your local law enforcement and/or state attorney general.

Learn more about how to protect your digital life during Data Privacy Week by visiting the Stay Safe Online website and spreading the word on social media with the hashtag #BeCyberSmart. To learn more about community banks, visit BankLocally.org.

About ICBA

The Independent Community Bankers of America® creates and promotes an environment where community banks flourish. ICBA is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services.

With nearly 50,000 locations nationwide, community banks constitute roughly 99 percent of all banks, employ nearly 700,000 Americans and are the only physical banking presence in one in three U.S. counties. Holding more than $5.8 trillion in assets, over $4.9 trillion in deposits, and more than $3.5 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community, community banks channel local deposits into the Main Streets and neighborhoods they serve, spurring job creation, fostering innovation and fueling their customers’ dreams in communities throughout America. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.

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