Sound Advice to Protect Your Identity During Cybersecurity Awareness Month

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First National Bank and Trust offers Sound Advice for Protecting Your Identity during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft has topped the list of consumer complaints every year, for the last 15 years. Identity theft occurs when a criminal obtains and misuses someone’s personal information without permission, typically for economic gain. For many victims, it can result in drained bank accounts, poor credit, and a damaged reputation.

“First National Bank and Trust recognizes the devastating effects identity theft can have on an individual,” said Theresa Wendhausen, branding and communications officer for First National Bank and Trust. “Our goal is to work together with our customers to make sure every precaution is taken to safeguard their personal data.”

In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, First National Bank and Trust offers the following Sound Advice to help protect consumers from becoming a victim of identity theft:

  •     Don’t share secrets.

Do not provide Social Security numbers or account information to anyone who initiates contact online or over the phone. Protect PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for all passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.

  •     Shred sensitive papers.

Shred receipts, banks statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

  •     Keep an eye out for missing mail.

Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from a residential mailbox with the flag up.

  •     Use online banking.

Monitor 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.

  •     Monitor personal credit reports.

Order a free copy of personal credit reports every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at

  •     Protect personal computers.

Make sure the virus protection software on personal computers is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure the browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also, look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.

  •     Protect mobile devices.

Use the passcode lock on smartphones and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access personal information if a device is lost or stolen. Before donating, selling, or trading an old cell phone or tablet, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows for the device to be wiped remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for unknown senders.

  •     Report any suspected fraud to the bank immediately.

First National Bank and Trust is a family-owned, community bank headquartered in Beloit, Wisconsin. Chartered in 1882, First National Bank and Trust Company now serves more than 27,000 households in 9 communities and 12 locations in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois with assets of approximately $820 million. Commitment to full service banking, investments, asset management, exceptional service, and Sound Advice has positioned First National Bank and Trust Company as a Stateline leader in the industry. For additional information, visit


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Theresa Wendhausen
since: 02/2012
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First National Bank and Trust Company
since: 06/2012
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First National Bank and Trust Company