Whether you're banking in person, online or by phone, we're always working to help protect you from fraud. Our Fraud Department works behind the scenes monitoring our customers' accounts 24/7 for suspicious activity. If unusual activity is detected, we will work with our customers and law enforcement to investigate the fraud when it occurs.
Card Security: We're in This Together
Here's what you can do:
At Alpine Bank, your security is our top priority. From sophisticated fraud protection tools, to 24/7 monitoring of your account for suspicious activity - we've got your back. But we'll need your help, too!
What you can do:
- Update your contact information. It’s important to keep your account details current, so we can contact you as soon as possible in the event we detect suspicious activity on your account. Please visit your local Alpine Bank or call us at 1-800-551-6098 to verify and update your information.
- Monitor your accounts. Review your accounts for suspicious activity at least once a week using Alpine Online® or AlpineMobile®, and set customized online or mobile alerts to stay up-to-date.
- Manage your debit card. Use the "suspend" feature within the AlpineMobile app to fully control your debit card. “Turn on” and “turn off” your card with the click of a button.
- Report lost or stolen cards immediately by calling 1-888-425-7463 or by logging in to your Alpine Online account.
- Notify us when you are traveling so your transactions during that time don't appear suspicious. Visit your local Alpine Bank or call 1-800-551-6098.
- Treat your card like cash; always keep it in a safe place.
- Reduce your risk at ATMs and look for possible fraudulent devices.
- Protect your PINs and change them periodically.
- Remove your card from the ATM or point-of-sale (POS) terminal when your transaction is complete.
- Sign your cards as soon as they arrive, and cut up old cards when they expire.
- Be cautious with public Wi-Fi. Avoid shopping or using apps that require your personal information while you are online using public Wi-Fi.
- Keep safe online. Check for a padlock symbol or “https” in your browser’s address bar when submitting card payment and other personal details as these indicate a secure site.
- Protect personal information. Shred or destroy card receipts, bank statements, tax returns, and other identifying documents before discarding them. Learn more about Alpine Bank’s upcoming shred day events.
24/7 card monitoring:
In our continuing efforts to keep your accounts secure, we've improved our alert system for potential fraud by introducing email and text message alerts—24/7.
|Here's how it works:|
1. When potential fraud is detected, you will receive an email alert from Alpine Bank Fraud Center. You will be able to respond to the email to specify if the transaction is legitimate or not.
2. If there is no response received from you via email, you will receive a text alert from 32874 – Fraud Center. You will be able to respond to the text to specify if the transaction is legitimate or not. (You may opt out of text alerts at any time.)
3. If there is no response received from you via text, five minutes after the text alert, you will receive automatic phone calls between 8am and 9pm local time to confirm or deny fraud*.
4. To avoid inconvenience and any possible card disruptions, please respond to the email, text or phone calls.
*The phone number for our Fraud Center is 1-800-417-4592. You may choose to add this number to your phone contacts and label it "Alpine Bank Fraud Center," making it easy to see whenever you get a call from this number. Please remember, our messages will never ask for your PIN or account number.
Email Safety Tips
Email encryption helps keep your personal and account information safe
Top 5 Tips to minimize confidential company information leaks
- Read the email before you send it.
- Beware of sensitive data! Do you know how sensitive data is meant to leave the company? Does your e-mail system encrypt it?
- Understand the boundaries of what you are allowed to use your work email for.
- Make sure you don't click "Reply All" rather than "Reply".
- Check the name(s) of who is in the "To" box before hitting "send".
Tips to keep emails confidential and professional
- When dealing with confidential information, ask permission to correspond by email. Email can be an unsecured method of correspondence, and information should be transmitted in this manner only if the receiving party is comfortable with it. Do not send messages containing confidential information unless the recipient has told you it is acceptable to do so.
- When bringing someone into an ongoing email conversation, make sure that the emails you forward are relevant to the new recipient. It shows respect for that person's time, as well as for the privacy of other participants in the conversation.
- Ensure that no confidential information is accidentally forwarded. In fact, exclude all confidential information from emails unless it is necessary for the correspondence at hand and the recipient has signed a confidentiality agreement. (For emails with confidential information, encrypt your emails for added security.)
- For sensitive information that is not strictly confidential, be sure to include only what is important and send it only to trusted recipients.
- Be careful not to pass around emails that criticize clients, colleagues, or contractors. In fact, try to avoid writing those things at all! You never know when they might get forwarded to the person you are criticizing. It is better to focus on working with people you respect and talking to them directly about any concerns you might have.
Consumer Education and Protection
Do you Facebook? Protect your personal information!
There are plenty of things Facebook users, and others, can do to protect their personal information online. Consumer Reports recommends:
- Keep tabs on your kids' accounts. Some kids won’t 'friend' their parents, of course, but they just might fork over their username and password. Other parents can keep up on their children's online activities via siblings or other friends.
- Use privacy controls. Consumer Reports found that one in five adult Facebook users don't use privacy controls. Whenever Facebook gives you a choice, set the information to be visible only to your friends. Otherwise your profile picture, friends list, activities, and other info can be seen by anyone who does a public search on your name.
- Turn off Instant Personalization. Instant personalization shares your location information with sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor (and the list is growing). The default setting for instant personalization is 'on,' but you can turn it off.
- Be careful with apps. In most cases, you can decide which information an app can see. Facebook says it doesn't share identifiable information with advertisers, but using an app does make general information available.
- Set a PIN number for your phone. Most smartphones allow you to set a four-digit PIN for your phone, but only about 20 percent of people -- even those who store sensitive information on their phones -- actually do this.
- Protect your phone. The PIN is just the start. Many manufacturers offer over-the-air backup, remote phone locating, remote phone locking, and erasing of data and account info. You can also get software to lock your phone or erase data remotely. Turn off the phone's GPS feature if you don't need it.
Properly erase your data before disposing of your old computer
Take the proper steps to make sure the hard drive or removable media is erased.
For security reasons, you should never just give away or dispose of your old computer without properly wiping away your existing data. Simply deleting your old files or reformatting your hard disk is not enough, since the data can still be recovered from your computer by someone using a data recovery program. Removable media, handheld devices and even hard drives in copiers, scanners and faxes may retain images.
An effective way to ruin a CD or DVD is to wrap it in a paper towel and shatter it. Some devices actually shred the media itself, while others puncture the writable surface with a pattern of holes.
An option is to investigate software programs and hardware devices that erase your hard drive, handheld, or removable media. Look for the following characteristics:
- Data is written multiple times -- Adding multiple layers of data makes it difficult for an attacker to "peel away" the new layer.
- Use of random data -- Use of random data instead of easily identifiable patterns
- Use of zeros in the final layer - Look for programs that use all zeros in the last layer.
USB drives may be securely erased, but don't rely on "erasing" a USB key for security. Instead put your data in an encrypted volume on the key or encrypt the entire USB key.
Be careful before you resell or give away your handheld devices. The new owner can uncover data. At a minimum, figure out how to reset it to the factory standard.
Debit card fraud
You can't beat the convenience of using a debit card with today's busy lifestyle, however card users need to be aware of potential fraud situations using your debit card.
Pop up ads are not only annoying, but may pose a threat to your bank account. One way fraudsters con you out of cash is immediately after you make an online purchase, a pop-up ad will appear offering you cash-back rewards just by clicking on the ad. Before you know it, you are being charged monthly for a membership service. It can be almost impossible to cancel the membership and receive refunds. Pop up ads may also house 'spyware' or other harmful 'malware' designed to infiltrate or damage your computer.
Phishing is exactly what it sounds like… 'phishing' for your information. Phishing typically comes in the form of an email. You'll open it thinking it's legitimate from your bank, or other business, asking for you to enter and 'verify' your debit/credit card number, Social Security Number, etc. You click on a link and are then routed to a legitimate-looking website to enter your information. These scams can be VERY clever and real-looking. The fraudulent website may even have the exact logos and colors as the real one they are purporting to be.
Remember, your bank will NEVER contact you to ask you for your information – they already have it! Just ignore these emails and contact your bank if you have questions about any online correspondence from them.
Skimming is done by crooks setting up a device that captures the data on the magnetic strip and keypad information of a debit or credit card. The scammers try to steal your details so they can access your accounts. Once scammers have skimmed your card, they can create a fake or 'cloned' card with your details on it. The scammer is then able to run up charges on your account. Card skimming is also a way for scammers to steal your identity and use it to commit identity fraud.
Protecting Yourself from Debit Card Fraud:
- Do not keep your PIN with your card and do not give the card and PIN to friends or family to use.
- When at an ATM machine, be careful when putting in your PIN number as there may be someone watching you.
- If you are using an ATM, take the time to check that there is nothing suspicious about the machine. If an ATM looks suspicious, do not use it and alert the ATM owner.
- Review your monthly account statements when you receive them to verify the purchases made with your debit card actually belong to you.
- Consider signing up for online banking - you can review your account anytime to check your transactions.
- Ask yourself if you trust the person or trader who you are handing your card over to. If a shop assistant looks like they are going to take your card out of your sight, ask if it is really necessary.
- Notify your bank or card provider IMMEDIATELY if you notice any suspicious activity on your account!
Fake check scam
Did you know nearly one-third of all adult Americans have been approached with fake check scams? And, about 4.5 million have fallen for them. The most common scams involve sweepstakes/lotteries, grants and work-at-home opportunities.
While these scams may vary in type, they typically lure victims in by fraudsters paying you for work or an item with a check and then they ask you to wire some of the money back. Beware of fake scam types, especially in these situations:
How Fake Check Scams Work
Fraudsters may claim that it's too difficult to pay you direct because they are out of the country so they'll tell you that they have someone in the U.S. who owes them money to send you a check or a money order.
When you receive the check or money order, it may be for more than you are owed. You'll be instructed to deposit the item and then to wire the extra money back to the scammer, or to someone else. In the case of an "advance" or "sweepstakes," the scammer will send you a check and ask you to wire part of it back to pay a fee to claim your "winnings."
Sometimes, the scammer will tell you they will transfer the money direct to your account. They'll ask you to provide your bank account information and they'll send a 'fake' transfer to your bank (it looks real). When you check your balance, the fake money looks like it is there and you'll be asked to wire money back to the scammer.
The Unfortunate Consequences of Fake Check Scams
Whether a scammer sends you a check or transfer money direct to your account, the outcome is often the same. After you wire the money back to the scammer, the check or transfer is found as a fake. In the end, it is the victim (you) that pays for the money lost.
How Can I Protect Myself?
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to use your common sense. It does not make sense for someone to send you 'too much' money and ask for you to wire some of it back. This is CLEARLY a scam!
Forgeries can sometimes take weeks to discover. If you think you have a potential fake-check scam situation, do NOT deposit the check given to you and NEVER wire out money or give out your account information. You should immediately contact your bank for assistance or questions.
Do not fall victim to these clever schemes - learn more at www.fakechecks.org about the most common fake check scams and watch interviews with actual victims.
Telephone & cell phone fraud
Fraudsters still use some of the "old tricks of the trade," including calling you up on the telephone to get your information. Think about these points next time you are in doubt of a telemarketer:
- Always ask for more information (in writing) about the organization calling or the offer being presented.
- Never feel obligated to provide your credit/debit card number over the phone.
- Educate yourself about the cost of "900" calls and how you can block such calls from getting through.
- Get as many details as you can. The fewer the questions the caller can answer, the less likely he or she is legitimate.
- Get a call-back number so you can initiate the call yourself, or because you may need to report it later.
- If you get a call from someone posing as a representative from your financial institution and asking for your account or personal information, hang up immediately and call your bank to verify any claims. Remember, they will NEVER ask for your personal or account information - they already have it.
- If a telemarketer offers you a "get-rich-quick" opportunity, the best response is to hang up.
- Avoid offers informing you that you've won a prize. Typically, respondents are asked to pay for "shipping", "an application fee", or a "deposit" for a prize that does not exist.
- Be wary of calls soliciting contributions to charitable causes, particularly those regarding disaster relief. Many times these solicitors are not legitimate and you are better off choosing a worthy cause and contacting them yourself than to respond to a random request.
Cell Phone Spyware
Did you know spy software can be installed on your cell phone? Imagine someone can actually tap into your cell phone and listen to your conversations, read text messages, and track your movements. While cell phone spyware is illegal in the U.S. and spying via cell phone is a federal crime, you should still be aware of ways to protect the information you pass through on your cell phone.
- Keep a close eye on your cell phone so it is not removed from your possession in order to download the spyware when you are not looking.
- Install a security password on your cell phone to restrict others from using it.
- If you do not need a phone that has internet access, do not get one. Typically phones that have internet capability are more vulnerable.
The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Oftentimes there are no warning signs that your identity has been stolen, however, there are many steps you can take to help protect yourself.
- Monthly bank and credit card statements, and other regular documents stop arriving in the mail.
- You start receiving bills from companies you don't recognize.
- Credit collection agencies try to collect on debts that do not belong to you.
- Do not carry your Social Security card or number on your person. Also, do not carry your birth certificate or passport unless absolutely necessary.
- Do not put your Social Security number on your checks.
- Shred all personal documents, old bank statements, credit card pre-approvals, credit card receipts, and credit card checks before putting them in the trash.
- Be careful who you give your personal information to – do not feel obligated to give information over the phone or Internet to someone you do not know.
- Review your credit report from the three national credit reporting agencies every year to verify your information. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit agencies. For a free report visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Review your monthly credit card and bank statements monthly. If you find anything suspicious, contact your provider or bank immediately.
- Ensure your mailbox is secure. If not, rent a post office box.
- Do not use simple passwords or PINs (i.e., your last name, 12345, mother's maiden name, etc.). Mix capital letters, numbers, and characters to create your passwords/PINs and make sure to change them frequently.
Online Banking & security
Online banking makes it easy to attend to financial matters while traveling or during nontraditional bank hours. Alpine Bank uses state-of-the-art technology that encrypts data traveling between your computer and the Bank. You can also help protect yourself by following these security tips:
- Make sure the antivirus software on your computer is up-to-date.
- Install and update anti-spyware software.
- Use a strong password – not one that can be easily figured out by a hacker. A strong password contains a combination of letters, numbers and characters. Make sure to change your passwords often
- Do not open or respond to email from people you don’t know and NEVER send your personal or account information via email.
- Always exit or log off after you are finished with your online business.
- Use your own computer to conduct business online. NEVER use a public computer or wireless hot spot to make online purchases or to send personal information.
- If you receive an email from your financial institution relating to an "urgent problem" or other matter pertaining to your account, call your bank to ask if it's legitimate or to respond.
A good way to protect yourself from hackers and their reconnaissance is to use a personal firewall. A personal firewall is a device or software package that can actively monitor Internet traffic to and from your computer, provide detailed logs of hacking attempts against your computer, and can be configured to block traffic that you don't want to receive. Firewalls can significantly hinder a hacker's ability to acquire information about your computer and subsequently hinder their ability to wreak their havoc.
- Block ports that viruses, worms, and Trojans use to communicate with other machines on the Internet.
- Prevent unwanted sharing of your files and computer resources such as printers.
- Prevent applications on your computer from connecting to the Internet if they don't need to.
- Block illegitimate traffic sent by your computer or illegitimate traffic sent to your computer.
- Significantly increase the difficulty for hackers to access and subsequently exploit un-patched network applications and services on your computer.
- Detect or disable computer viruses and worms if they are already on your computer.
- Stop you from opening email with dangerous attachments.
- Block spam or unsolicited email from appearing in your inbox.
Safety tips for traveling
Planning is key when preparing for a trip. Be sure to make preparations before traveling, and use good common sense when you hit the road.
- Check that the credit card you plan to use won't expire while you are away.
- Make a note of your credit and check card numbers, as well as issuer phone numbers, and keep them in a safe place, so you won't have to scramble in the event your card is lost or stolen. You should never write down your PIN number, however.
- Before you head out, let your bank or card issuer know that you plan to be traveling to avoid having your unfamiliar transactions flagged as suspicious.
- Avoid leaving IDs and cards unattended in a hotel room, recreation areas, or in a vehicle. Take advantage of the safe or security box provided by the hotel for your valuables.
- Save all of your receipts for proof of purchase and when you get home, carefully check them against your monthly statements.
Charitable giving scams
The Federal Trade Commission recommends following these tips when donating to charities:
- Donate to recognized charities you have given to before. Watch out for charities that have sprung up overnight. They may seem well-meaning, but lack the infrastructure to provide assistance. Be wary of charities with names that sound like familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
- Give directly to the charity, not the solicitors for the charity. Some solicitors take a portion of the proceeds to cover their costs, which leaves less for charity assistance.
- Do not give out personal or financial information to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. This includes your Social Security number or credit card and bank account numbers. Scam artists use this information to commit fraud against you.
- Check out charities before you donate. Contact the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance at www.give.org
- Don't give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check. Some organizations will also allow you to donate online.
- Ask for identification if you are approached in person. Many states require paid fundraisers to identify themselves as such and to name the charity for which they are soliciting.
If you fall victim
If you think you are a victim of fraud or identity theft, follow these steps to start mitigation:
- Contact your financial institution immediately.
- File a police report.
- Report suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission or the Internet Fraud Complaint Center.
- Contact each of the three following credit bureaus and place a fraud alert statement on your credit information.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – (877) 382-4357 www.ftc.gov
- Consumer Fraud – www.usdoj.gov
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) – www.ic3.gov
- Social Security Administration – (800) 269-0271 www.ssa.gov
- Identity Theft Resource Center – (858) 693-7935 www.idtheftcenter.org
- Privacy Rights Clearing House – (619) 298-3396 www.privacyrights.org
Business Education and Protection
It's easy to fall prey to a sales scam if your employees are not properly educated. Office supply scammers often rely on new or unknowing employees. Here are some tips for you and your employees:
- Keep up-to-date supplier lists by the telephones for employees to double-check when vendors call.
- Never buy from a new supplier by telephone, mail, or email until you have verified the company's existence and reputation. Contact your local Better Business Bureau for a reliability report.
- Designate purchasing agents for ordering, receiving, and paying for supplies.
- Inform all employees about your organization's purchasing, receiving, invoicing and payment systems.
- Alert employees, including receptionists and seasonal workers, to the various office supply schemes and advise them not to give out information on makes and models of office equipment over the telephone.
Business identity theft
Businesses fall victim to identity theft too. It's important for you to protect key information, not only for your customers, but for your employees as well. Here are some proactive steps to help avoid fraud and identity theft.
- There should be a reasonable separation of duties between employees responsible for authorizing transactions, recording transactions, and maintaining company bank accounts.
- Develop a process to screen employees who have access to personal information, even if they are part-time. This also goes for cleaning services and temporary firms you use.
- Encrypt all personal and confidential information on computers. Make sure your systems administrator checks on a regular basis that your system is hacker-proof.
- Checkbooks, signature stamps and deposit slips should be kept in a secured place and checked on a regular unscheduled basis by owners. It should be in a place where others could witness if an employee is gaining access frequently.
- Pay close attention to employee spending habits that seem out of the ordinary.
- Adopt secure methods for disposing of business and personal information, such as using shredders.
- Consider doing your banking online so you can access your accounts immediately whenever you need to. You may also consider receiving your billing, account statements, and notices electronically versus waiting for them in the mail.
Identifying counterfeit money
Money counterfeiters can be just as clever as other fraudsters when producing fake money. If a business receives counterfeit bills - they are out that cash. Make sure you and your employees are aware of these tips from the U.S. Secret Service to identify potential counterfeit bills.
Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of United States currency.
Genuine paper currency is sometimes altered in an attempt to increase its face value. One common method is to glue numerals from higher denomination notes to the corners of lower denomination notes.
These bills are also considered counterfeit, and those who produce them are subject to the same penalties as other counterfeiters. If you suspect you are in possession of a raised note:
- Compare the denomination numerals on each Ten Dollar Bill corner with the denomination written out at the bottom of the note (front and back) and through the Treasury seal.
- Compare the suspect note to a genuine note of the same denomination and series year, paying particular attention to the portrait, vignette and denomination numerals.
Beginning with Series 1996, each denomination bears a watermark depicting the same historical figure as the portrait, positioned to the right of the portrait. Hold the bill to the light to see the watermark.
Inscribed Security Thread
A clear, inscribed polyester thread has been incorporated into the paper of genuine currency. The thread is embedded in the paper and runs vertically through the clear field to the left of the Federal Reserve Seal.
Printed on the thread is a denomination identifier. On $100 and $50 denominations, the security thread has "USA 100" or "USA 50" repeated along the entire length of the thread. Lower denominations (i.e. $20, $10 and $5) have "USA" followed by the written denomination. For example, "USA TWENTY USA TWENTY" is repeated along the entire length of the thread. The inscriptions are printed so that they can be read from either the face or the back of the note. The thread and the printing can only be seen by holding the note up to a light source.
*Note - the security thread indicating the bill's denomination is now located in a different position on each denomination. The inscribed security thread in the 1996 series $20 and $50 also includes a flag.
If you fall victim
The Better Business Bureau recommends small business owners take the following steps to avoid harm if your business identity has been stolen.
- Immediately alert your financial institution. If fraudsters are accessing the business's credit or bank accounts, forging company checks or opening up new lines of credit, it's important for a business owner to notify financial institutions involved in order to limit any further unauthorized transactions. Check with law enforcement first before closing any accounts so as not to foil any ongoing investigations.
- File a police report.
- Review your credit report (sole proprietor). If your business is a sole proprietorship, then the same consumer protections apply as if an individual's ID were stolen – such as access to free credit reports and the ability to place a fraud alert on the report.
Not sure if it's legit?
Don't hesitate to call us if you're ever unsure about the authenticity of an email or other communication appearing to come from Alpine Bank. 1.800.551.6098