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Personal Financial Security

NEW FRAUD PREVENTION SERVICE

In our continuing efforts to keep your accounts secure, we've improved our alert system for potential fraud. Here's how it works:

When potential fraud is detected, you will receive an automatic text notification with the option to reply with "fraud" or "no fraud" between 7am and 9pm EST. You may also receive an email from Spirit of Texas Bank with the same option.  If there is no response received from you five minutes after the text alert, you will receive automatic phone calls to confirm or deny fraud.

Please remember - our messages will never ask you for your PIN or account number.

*The phone number for our Fraud Center has changed to 1-800-417-4592. If you add this number to your phone contacts and label it "Fraud Center," it will display whenever you receive a call from this number.

Spirit of Texas Bank is committed to helping our customers attain the highest levels of financial security. This page is offered to assist our customers stay informed on current financial security concerns and to prepare them should they ever be victimized. Please keep in mind that this page is intended to be used as a resource, not as legal advise. Spirit of Texas Bank is always here to answer any questions; simply reach us via the Contact Us page which can be visted by clicking the link in the upper-right-hand corner. 

Cyber Security 

Email Security

While email is an extremely useful tool for communication, it leaves users vulnerable if used carelessly. Phishing scams, viruses, malware and other threats are all spread using email. Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take to help avoid these issues: 

  • Only share your email with trusted sources
  • Pay close attention when opening or downloading files from email. When in doubt, do not open.
  • When you receive an email from a business requesting information, verify that the website is legitimate by searching online or even calling the business.
  • Sensitive information should never be shared via email, especially social security numbers, credit/debit card numbers or passwords.
  • Create strong email names/passwords. Using a variety of letters, numbers and special characters can help in strengthening your passwords.
  • Consider obtaining security software and be sure it protects you from a wide array of security problems.
  • Use common sense – if an email looks suspicious, it probably is. 
Passwords

If you frequent the internet, you know that passwords are a necessary evil. While they protect us from outside threats, keeping up with a long list of passwords can be quite aggravating.  Creating strong passwords can also be a challenge. While the length and characters needed to create a password may vary from system to system, these tips can help you create strong passwords:

  • Use a different password for every account or profile you may have.
  • Change your passwords often.
  • Consider downloading a reputable password management application if your password list has become too long to manage safely and conveniently.
  • Avoid common passwords i.e.) 1234.
  • Mix numbers, letters and special characters randomly.
  • Be careful where you type your password. Nobody should know it, but you. 
Online Shopping & Payments

While online shopping is convenient and can be much better than standing in a crowded department store, it comes with risk. If online shoppers aren’t careful, they can become victims of cyber theft and/or fraud. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Only buy from trusted and reputable merchant. If you’ve never done business with a merchant before, conduct thorough research before giving out any sensitive information.
  • Verify that the site is legitimate. Purchases should only be made on a secure website. Look for secure transaction symbols such as a lock or for an “s” after “https://...” The “s” stands for secured. 
  • Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used before entering any sensitive information.
  • Use safe payment options. Credit/debit cards are generally the means in which buyers purchase items online. Be sure you know your liability before making any purchases. Money should never be sent via mail.
  • Maintain a paper trial. 

Credit Card & Debit Card Security

Basic Tips

Credit and debit cards are great tools, but, as with any financial tool, they come with risks. You can mitigate risk by following these simple tips:

  • Keep you cards in a safe place and treat them as cash.
  • Never share your credit/debit card number via email or mail. Do not give numbers over the phone unless the phone call was initiated by you (and even then use caution).
  • Review account activity monthly and notify the bank immediately of any discrepancies.
  • Follow the PIN safety tips in the following section.
  • Destroy old cards.
  • Only give your card information to trusted sources. If making purchases online, verify the site and insure payments are encrypted.
  • Destroy statements and transaction receipts or keep in a secure place. 
PIN Security

PIN stands for personal identification number and it is used as just that. A PIN verifies that you are indeed the owner of the card you are using. Your PIN should be just as secure as your card. These tips can help:

  • NEVER write your PIN on your card. In fact, do not write your PIN anywhere, which leads us to the next tip…
  • Memorize your PIN
  • Change your PIN frequently.
  • Never give your PIN over the phone, mail or email. This is not how reputable merchants operate. 
  • When selecting a PIN, do not use a number or word that is easily identified (i.e. the year you were born) or that is written on items in a wallet or purse.
  • Check your surroundings before entering a PIN, especially at ATMs, gas stations and point-of-sell terminals.
  • Hide the key-pad with your body or free hand while entering your PIN. 
Before Swiping Your Card

As long as you have a credit or debit card, card fraud is a possibility. Knowing the risks of card fraud before you swipe it can help prevent card fraud.

One such risk is outdoor ATMs. ATMs that are located outside pose a higher risk as they are easily accessed by the public. It is simple for criminals to place skimming devices on ATMs that are easily accessible. It is better to use an ATM inside a reputable facility. If you must use an outside ATM, use machine that is in a high traffic area and one that is well lighted.

Gas stations pose another outside risk. Small cameras and skimmers are fairly easily attached to gas station card readers. Card information can be stolen and copied using these devices. Look for signs that a card reader has been tampered with. Consider using alternative payment methods as gas stations.

Knowing who swipes your card is just as important as where you swipe your card. Online shopping makes users vulnerable because there are so many points at which information can be compromised. Internet connections, email, passwords, viruses/malware and site security are all variables to consider when making purchases online. Perhaps most importantly is that one never knows who handles their card information once it has been submitted online.

The same goes for restaurants. Consider your waiter - any time your card or card information leaves your person, you run the risk of having that information stolen.

These points of transaction are not inherently risky. However, one should use precaution when swiping their card, especially at these locations. Consider using a different form of payment. 


Fraud & Scams

Phone Scams

Phone scams are numerous and the criminals on the other end are often very clever. If not on guard, one can easily be tricked into thinking they are speaking to a legitimate debt collector, law enforcement officer or customer service representative. The Federal Trade Commission has released some excellent information on phone scams that may be accessed by clicking the button below.

Additional Phone Scam Information

Wire Fraud

Like all financial tools, wiring money comes with risk. Follow these simple tips from the FDIC to help protect yourself from wire fraud:

  • Never wire money to people you don’t know, regardless of how convincing their story may be.
  • If you’re being pressed to make a decision or send money fast, it’s probably a scam
  • Walk away from any offer from a stranger who asked you to deposit a check into your bank account and instructs you to wire any of that money to someone else, perhaps in another country.
  • Never give out your bank account or credit card numbers in response to an advertisement or an unsolicited call, test message or email.

For additional information, click the button below. 

Additional Wire Fraud Information

ACH Fraud

ACH fraud is one of the fastest growing types of fraud in the world. ACH stands for Automated Clearing House network and it is the system used by financial institutions to process checks, bill payments and cash transfers between business and individuals. This type of fraud is popular because it is relatively simple to accomplish as a criminal only needs an account number and routing number from the victim.

There are many scams that lure people into giving their account information, but one of the most popular is via phishing email. When the victim clicks on the email to open it, a Trojan is placed on their computer. This malware will steals sensitive information. This is why email security is paramount in preventing ACH fraud.

Recently, the victims have reported being sent an email from the IRS with the title “unclaimed funds”. Thinking this good news, the victim clicks on the email and a Trojan attacks their computer. Please note, the IRS (and any reputable business) will not initiate contact to obtain sensitive or financial information

Elderly Financial Abuse

Elderly financial abuse is a scandal that targets some of society’s most vulnerable.  More times than not, elderly financial abuse is committed by a close relative or someone trusted with the care of the elderly victim. Victims of elderly financial abuse are not only those who are dependent or confused. The National Institute on Financial Issues and Services for Elders suggests signs of elderly abuse include: 

  • The elderly person’s living conditions are well below his or her financial resources.
  • Unusual or inappropriate bank activity is reported.
  • Frequent checks for cash are written to a caregiver or financial professional.
  • Bills go unpaid or are overdue when someone is supposed to be paying them.
  • The elderly person transfers title of his or her home or other assets for no apparent reason.
  • Large, frequent gifts are made to a caregiver.
  • The person is reluctant to talk about once-routine topics.
  • Personal belongings are missing.
  • Attempts are made by a caregiver, friend, or relative to isolate the person from others.
  • Changes are made in a will when the person appears to be incapacitated.
  • The older person takes out large, unexplained loans.
  • A live-in caregiver refuses to leave or is evasive about financial arrangements

If you believe that you or anyone you know is the victim of elderly financial abuse, report the situation to Adult Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400.