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To All Northwest Bank & Trust Customers

We are dedicated to protecting you and your banking information.

Whether you visit our branches or conduct your business online, we are taking the highest precautions to ensure that your information is protected and secure.

If, at any time, you feel that your accounts have been compromised, please contact us immediately at 1-563-388-2511.

Security Best Practices for Consumers

These precautions and the continuous monitoring your accounts and credit report for fraudulent activity can reduce your exposure to identity theft and frauds:

  • Keep IDs, payment methods and passwords confidential
  • Consider using different passwords for each online service (to make it more difficult for a hacker to compromise multiple accounts if one password is stolen)
  • Use passwords that include letters and numbers that are not easily discernable (do not use birthdays, child’s name, etc.)
  • Keep your contact information current. This information is vital for receiving important security alerts and notifications about your account. It is also used when verifying changes to your account
  • Keep your security software up to date to reduce the chance of your device getting compromised.

Fraud and Identity Theft

Fraud and identify theft continue to be of concern to everyone. You can be the best line of defense against fraud and identity theft, and you can find additional information on the matter at Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website.  To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Use a secure connection whenever browsing or making payments online (look for “https” or a green security lock icon in the address bar of your browser, which indicate a secure connection is made)
  • Be careful of who is asking you for information: unless you initiated the request or know the person on the other end, never provide personal or card information over the phone or email. Contact the organization directly using information listed on their website or other official source.
  • Stay attentive: monitor your accounts and statements thoroughly, and review your credit report at least once a year.
  • Keep your personal data private: store new and canceled checks in a safe place, shred sensitive documents, keep your software updated, and do not share passwords, debit/credit cards or PINs with anyone.  Call us at 1.563.388.2511 to find out about our next Shred Day event.

Avoiding Cashier’s Check Fraud

Many consumers have fallen victim to scams involving cashier’s checks. Scammers are printing fake checks that can look very realistic and passing them off to unsuspecting consumers. It can take days after a fraudulent cashier’s check is deposited into an account before the consumer even knows that it was a fake. Here are some common scams that we have seen and ways to protect yourself: 

Someone asks you to assist in getting a check cashed.

The perpetrator asks you to cash the check because they don’t have an account. They will even let you keep part of the money for your work. Always apply the “smell test” to these situations. If something smells fishy or sounds too good to be true, it probably is. By the time you realize the check is fraudulent, the scammer has your cash and you have nothing. 

Payment for an online purchase such as Craigslist.

Sellers are receiving fraudulent cashier’s checks for items purchased on craigslist.  Most recently, we have reports of sellers receiving cashier’s checks for amounts that exceed the agreed upon purchase price and they are asked to refund back to the buyer the excess funds. By the time the check is discovered to be fraudulent, the scammer has your goods and/or a refund check, and the fraudulent check that was deposited into your account has been reversed.  

Someone asks you to participate in a “mystery shopper” program.

Unsuspecting consumers receive a solicitation to participate in a “mystery shopper” program. The solicitation includes a cashier’s check and they are instructed to cash the check, keep a small amount for their trouble, spend a small amount at a store, and then purchase a money order for the balance and mail the money order to an individual. Again, as soon as the check is discovered to be fraudulent, the original deposit to your account will be reversed and the money orders have already been cashed.
These are just a couple examples of cashier’s check fraud we have seen recently. Protect yourself from fraud by being alert and suspicious. Call the issuing bank to verify the check is genuine. Don’t count on the contact information on the check itself being correct, it may be phony as well. Look up the contact information for the bank and call it directly.

If you are a victim of fraud, report the crime immediately. Contact your bank and the bank that supposedly issued the check. Also contact the site or service through which the transaction occurred.

Phishing Scams

Phishing is a scam where cybercriminals request personal information from users online. In many cases, the email has been made to look like a legitimate organization’s email – one that you may or may not do business with. The request for your personal information is made often under the threat of inactivating or revoking your account access should you not comply. Divulging personal information in response to these requests means you have fallen victim of a phishing attack.

Follow these guidelines to protect yourself from internet fraud:

  • Never click on a link from a business requesting that you provide them with personal information.
  • Understand that no reputable business will ever email you requesting that you update your personal information (this includes account numbers, passwords or Social Security Numbers and more)
  • Pay close attention to the URL behind website links. If you hover the mouse over a hyperlink, you can see the web address that a click will take you to. Cybercriminals use masked links to trick you into entering an unsecure website.
  • If you are unsure that the request is valid, independently visit the business’ website or call them directly to confirm their request.

Other Unsolicited Offers

If you receive an unsolicited offer that promises you something in exchange for money or account information, you should not respond unless you are sure the offer is legitimate. Recent scenarios include offers that require an upfront fee, requests to wire funds in exchange for a kickback, lottery or contest winning announcements, or urgent requests for money (e.g., medical bill assistance or emergency cash pleas).  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Additional Considerations for Businesses

Northwest Bank & Trust is dedicated to providing your company with the latest in secure technology for conducting business banking. However, there are some important steps you can take to enhance your own business’ banking and internet security, including:

  • Verify use of secure sessions (“https” not “http”) in the browser for all banking activities
  • Avoid using automatic log-in features that save usernames and passwords for online banking (for both internal and external frauds)
  • Never leave a computer unattended while in an online banking session
  • Initiate wire transfers and ACH payments under dual control (by establishing a transaction originator and a separate authorizer)
  • Conduct reconciliation of all banking transactions on a daily basis
  • Prohibit the use of “shared” usernames and passwords for computers and online banking systems
  • Never access banking sessions on public computers or wifi cafes, as unauthorized software may have been installed to capture your private information
  • Be suspicious of e-mails purporting to be from a financial institution or government agency requesting information such as usernames, passwords, PIN codes, etc.
  • Install commercially reasonable anti-virus and firewall software on all computer systems and update your business’ software regularly and perform security patches to programs and applications
  • Conduct regular training of your employee base on cyber-related threats

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