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Take Precautions to Protect Your Identity.

Identity Theft is a Serious Problem. It is the first step in a plan to steal money, and it is a crime that can cause the victim significant time and money to resolve. If you are concerned that you have identified unauthorized transactions on your account, have disclosed confidential information, or responded to a fraudulent e-mail please call the bank immediately at (815) 929-4000 to report the event and find out what to do next.  As outlined in our Electronic Fund Transfer disclosure, federal regulations provide consumers with protection for unauthorized electronic fund transfers. These regulations are not extended to business accounts.

The Federal Trade Commission has a website that creates a personal recovery plan based on your individual situation to help prevent any further damage and to start the recovery process.  Additional resources can be found at or FDIC: Consumer Assistance & Information.

Protect Yourself

We take safeguarding your information seriously; however, even the best security measures can only prevent fraud if you are also vigilant about employing the necessary safeguards to protect your information. Guard your financial information carefully. First Trust will never request that you provide personal, account information or logon credentials via the phone or by text, e-mail or pop-up in your browser.

Create strong log-in credentials.

  • Choose a unique username and password that you don't use for any other site.
  • Use a combination of capital and lower case letters, numbers and special characters (@#$%) for your password.
  • Never use personally identifiable information such as your name, birth date, Social Security Number or email address.
  • Avoid common dictionary words.

Never give other individuals your logon credentials, PIN numbers or answers to your challenge questions.

Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft

  • If someone contacts you claiming to be a representative from the bank requesting information, that person may be attempting to defraud you. Do not provide any information. Call the bank at (815) 929-4000 and report the event.
  • Elect to receive your statements electronically.  Financial documents left in mailboxes are sometimes retrieved by thieves.
  • Guard your debit and credit cards, and report a lost card or fraudulent transactions immediately.
  • Choose a challenge question for your bank account for which the answer is not easily obtained; for example, never use a question which is answered on your FaceBook page or through other social media.
  • Keep financial documents and paperwork with personal information in a safe place.  When disposing of these, shred the documents do not simply throw them in the trash.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card with you or write down your number. Give it out only if absolutely necessary.
  • 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 are already familiar with.
  • Protect your computer.  Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software and keep them current.
  • When placing online orders use "secure" web pages (look for a closed padlock in the address bar of your browser).
  • Do not click on links or open attachments in emails unless you know the sender and were expecting the email.
  • Log off when you are finished with a site.
  • Delete account sensitive emails, and empty the Recycle Bin or Trash.
  • Close your browser when you are not using the internet.
  • Secure your home wireless network.

Fraud Tactics

Different fraud tactics all share the same goal: to obtain your personal, confidential and financial information for fraudulent use. 
From obtaining your information “the old-fashioned way” via discarded mail to emails that ask you to verify personal information under the guise of a trusted source (like your financial institution), fraudulent activity comes in many different forms.

Fraud Tactics Include:

  • Dumpster Diving - Thieves rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper that includes your personal information.
  • Malware - Also known as ‘malicious software’, malware is designed to harm, attack or take unauthorized control over a computer system. Malware includes viruses, worms and Trojans. It’s important to know that Malware can include a combination of all three of the types noted.
  • Phishing - A scam that involves the use of replicas of existing Web pages to try to deceive you into entering personal, financial or password data. Often suspects use urgency or scare tactics, such as threats to close accounts.
  • Vishing - Vishing is a type of phishing attack where the attacker uses a local phone number in the fake email as a means of obtaining your sensitive information. The goal is to fool you into believing the email is legitimate by instructing you that responding to the request by phone is safer than responding by email and shows authenticity. The unsuspecting caller is then tricked through an automated phone system to relinquish their sensitive information.
  • Smishing or SMS Phishing - SMS Phishing is similar to Phishing and Vishing except that it uses SMS Text Messaging as the delivery medium. The recipient is usually asked to call a number to reactivate an account or debit card. The phone number that is dialed will usually ask for everything needed to reproduce the credit or debit card and may even ask for a Social Security Number.
  • Pharming - Pharming takes place when you type in a valid Web address and you are illegally redirected to a Web site that is not legitimate. These ‘fake’ Web sites ask for personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.
  • Trojan - A Trojan is malicious code that is disguised or hidden within another program that appears to be safe (as in the myth of the Trojan horse). When the program is executed, the Trojan allows attackers to gain unauthorized access to the computer in order to steal information and cause harm. Trojans commonly spread through email attachments and Internet downloads. A common Trojan component is a “keystroke logger” which captures a user’s keystrokes in an attempt to capture the user’s credentials. It will then send those credentials to the attacker.
  • Spoofing - Spoofing is when an attacker masquerades as someone else by providing false data. Phishing has become the most common form of Web page spoofing. Another form of spoofing is URL spoofing. This happens when an attacker exploits bugs in your Web browser in order to display incorrect URLs in your browser location bar. Another form of spoofing is called “man-in-the-middle”. This occurs when an attacker compromises the communication between you and another party on the Internet. Many firewalls can be updated or configured to significantly prevent this type of attack.
  • Spyware - Loaded on to your computer unbeknownst to you, spyware is a type of program that watches what users do and forwards information to someone else. It is most often installed when you download free software on the Internet. Unfortunately hackers discovered this to be an effective means of sending sensitive information over the Internet. Moreover, they discovered that many free applications that use spyware for marketing purposes could be found on your machine, and attackers often use this existing spyware for their malicious means.
  • Pop-Ups - A form of Web advertising that appears as a “pop-up” on a computer screen, pop-ups are intended to increase Web traffic or capture email addresses. However, sometimes pop-up ads are designed with malicious intent like when they appear as a request for personal information from a financial institution, for example.
  • Virus - A computer virus is a malicious program that attaches itself to and infects other software applications and files without the user’s knowledge, disrupting computer operations. Viruses can carry what is known as a “payload,” executable scripts designed to damage, delete or steal information from a computer. A virus is a self-replicating program, meaning it copies itself. Typically, a virus only infects a computer and begins replicating when the user executes the program or opens an “infected” file. Viruses spread from computer to computer only when users unknowingly share “infected” files. For example, viruses are commonly spread when users send emails with infected documents attached.
  • RetroVirus - This virus specifically targets your computer defenses. It will look for vulnerabilities within your computer operating system or any third party security software. Most security vendors have some form of tamper-proof measure in place, so it is important to keep your patches up-to-date. Retro Viruses are usually combined with another form of attack.
  • Worm - A worm is similar to a virus but with an added, dangerous element. Like a virus, a worm can make copies of itself; however, a worm does not need to attach itself to other programs and it does not require a person to send it along to other computers. Worms are powerful malware programs because they cannot only copy themselves, they can also execute and spread themselves rapidly across a network without any help.
  • Check Washers - Check washing involves the use of chemicals to remove the original ink on a check to replace the payee and often the dollar amount.  Fraudsters may also copy and print multiple washed checks for future use or to sell to third-party criminals.  These criminals, target USPS blue collection boxes, unsecured residential mailboxes, and privately owned cluster box units at apartmements.  

Review Your Credit Reports

It is recommended that at least once a year you should read through your credit reports carefully. You can request a free annual credit report from each of the 3 national credit reporting agencies, even if you don’t suspect any unauthorized activity on your account.
For your free annual report, visit or call 1-877-FACTACT (1-877-322-8228). You can also request the reports directly from each agency:

  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Look for credit inquiries from unfamiliar companies, accounts you did not opened and unexplained debts. These can be a warning signs of fraud or identity theft.

First Trust is always working to help protect you and your money.  Knowledge and diligent monitoring of your accounts are significant ways you can help to deter fraud.

Additional Resources