General Security Tips

Personal Computer Security

General Security Tips
Shopping at is safe and secure. Our shopping and registration carts use 128 bit SSL encryption technology. While anyone can fall prey to fraud and identity theft, many ways exist to minimize your risk. provides these security tips so you can guard against fraud and identity theft.


  • Never give out personal information online or over the phone unless you have initiated the contact. will never request that you submit confidential information over non-secure channels such as e-mail or phone calls initiated by us.
  • Don't include information such as your driver's license or Social Security Number on your pre-printed checks.
  • Memorize all Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), such as your ATM card PIN and online passwords. Do not keep such numbers in your wallet or purse.
  • Avoid using easily guessed or learned information such as your online password, PIN or Telephone Access Code (TAC).

Personal Computer Security
One way a thief can get personal information about you is from your home computer. The following tips detail how you can add to the security of personal information on your home computer.

Passwords and User IDs
For each computer or online service you use, you should have a user ID and password. Try to create the most bizarre and original password, and make sure you protect it. Commit your password to memory and don't share it with anyone.

The following easily-identifiable items should be avoided when creating passwords:

  • Your birth date or a family member's birth date
  • Names of family members or pets
  • Social Security number
  • Phone numbers
  • Dates of important events, such as anniversaries

Tips for creating strong passwords:

  • Use a combination of numbers, letters and punctuation.
  • Longer passwords are better.
  • Make sure it's something you can remember without writing it down.

Install and Use Anti-Virus Programs
Viruses can infect a home computer in many ways: through floppy disks, CDs, e-mail, Web sites and downloaded files. Anti-virus programs help protect your computer against most viruses, worms, Trojans and other unwanted invaders that can make your computer "sick." Viruses, worms and the like often perform malicious acts, such as deleting files, accessing personal data or using your computer to attack other computers. If a file is found to be infected with a virus, most anti-virus programs provide you with options of how to respond, such as removing the harmful item or deleting the file. Installing an anti-virus program and keeping it up-to-date is the best defense for your home computer.

Firewalls: What Are They and How Do I Use Them?
Before you connect your computer to the Internet, you should install a firewall. A firewall can be generally described as a security guard for your home computer. The guard is a piece of software or hardware that helps protect your PC against hackers and many computer viruses and worms. With a firewall, you define which connections between your computer and other computers on the Internet are allowed and which are denied. There are firewall programs, both free and available for purchase, that provide the capabilities you need to help make your home computer more secure.

E-mail Scams: Phishing
What is phishing?
All Internet users should be aware of the online scam known as "phishing" (pronounced "fishing"). Phishing involves the use of e-mail messages that appear to come from your bank or another trusted business, but are actually from imposters.

Phishing e-mails typically ask you to click a link to visit a Web site, where you're asked to enter or confirm personal financial information such as your account numbers, passwords, Social Security number or other data. Although these Web sites may appear legitimate, they are not. Thieves can collect whatever data you enter and use it to access your personal accounts.

How can I spot a phishing scam?
Look for these warning signs:

  • Language and tone. The message you receive may urge you to act quickly by suggesting that your account is threatened. It may say that if you fail to update, verify or confirm your personal or account information, access to your accounts will be suspended. The wording may also be sloppy and contain misspellings.

  • Requests for personal information. Scam e-mails typically ask for personal or account information such as:
    - Account numbers 
    - Credit and check card numbers 
    - Social Security numbers 
    - Online banking user IDs and passwords 
    - Mother's maiden name 
    - Date of birth 
    - Other confidential information

  • Non-secure Web pages. Clever thieves can build a fake Web site that looks nearly identical to an authentic one. They can even alter the URL (the Web address) that appears in your browser window. Watch out for non-secure Web pages that ask for sensitive information (secure sites will typically display a lock in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window).

How can I decrease my risk of being a phishing victim?
Here are some safety tips:

  • Be suspicious of demanding messages. Messages threatening to terminate or suspend your account without your quick response should be treated as suspicious. A legitimate bank or business should not request personal information from you over an unsecured Web site. When in doubt, call the business' customer service number (available on your account statement) to confirm the status of your account. Do not use telephone numbers found on the suspected Web site.

  • Always type in the URL of the Web page you need. Phishing scams rely on embedded links that take you to fake Web sites. It's safer to type your bank's Web address directly into your browser so you know you're visiting the legitimate site.

  • Protect your password. Don't write down sensitive personal information such as your password or Social Security number. Change your password frequently.

  • Keep your computer up-to-date. recommends that you install anti-virus and firewall programs to help keep your computer safe. Learn more.

Report an online scam
If you receive suspicious e-mail that appears to come from, please notify us immediately by forwarding the e-mail to (do not open any attachments or click any links found in the suspicious e-mail).

If you believe you have provided personal or account information in response to a fraudulent e-mail or Web site, please contact at 800.987.6434.

Learn more about phishing
To learn more about phishing, read the phishing brochure* provided by The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC charters, regulates and supervises all national banks.

Recent phishing scams

  • Many banking instituitions have recently received e-mail messages stating that "there have been a large number of identity theft attempts targeting their customers." The e-mail requests that customers confirm their identity for personal online banking by clicking a link and logging onto their accounts.

  • Another recent fraudulent e-mail pretends to be a "Security Center Advisory" that informs customers their account "has been randomly selected for maintenance," and that they need to click a link to verify their identity.

  • Yet another fraudulent e-mail states that there is a pending charge (often a quite large one) to the customer's account, and in order to decline the transaction, the customer needs to click a button or a link in the e-mail.

All of these e-mail messages include links that appear to take customers to the business' web site, however, the Web pages they go to are not legitimate. They actually take customers to fake Web pages where the scammers collect personal and account information.

E-mail Attachments
E-mail viruses and worms are fairly common. Here are steps you can use to help you decide what to do with every e-mail message attachment you receive. You should only open and read a message that passes all of these tests:

  1. The know testóis the e-mail from someone you know?
  2. The received testóhave you received e-mail from this person before?
  3. The expect testówere you expecting e-mail with an attachment from this sender?
  4. The sense testódoes the e-mail subject make sense based on who is sending the e-mail? Would you expect this type of attachment from this person?
  5. The virus testódoes this e-mail contain a virus? To determine this, you need to install and use an anti-virus program.

Purchasing and Installing Programs
Apply these practices when you select software for your home computer.

  • Learn as much as you can about the product and what it does before you purchase it.
  • Understand the refund/return policy before you make your purchase.
  • Buy from a local store that you already know or a national chain with an established reputation.

    Keep Your System Up-to-Date
    Most software vendors provide free patches to fix problems in their products. You can usually download these patches from the vendor's Web site. When you purchase a program, it's a good idea to find out how the vendor provides customer support.

    Backups: How Important?
    It is a good practice to back up important files and folders on your computer. To back up files, you can make copies onto media that you can safely store elsewhere, such as CDs or floppy discs.

    For more information on home computer security, visit*

    *When you click this link, you will be leaving the Web site. Please refer to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy of this outside Web site. is not responsible for the quality, delivery or timeliness of goods or services of outside Web sites.



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