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A Guide to Your Cybersecurity

Tips and Advice for Preventing Online Fraud and Theft

Summer travel season is here and vacation scams are on the rise. Protect yourself from getting caught up in a scam by learning some of the signs of fraudsters.

Signs of a Scam
  • Scammers say it's a “free” vacation that you have to pay for. They often try to get your attention by saying you won something, but then making you pay to get it. If you have to pay, it’s not really free — and all those fees and taxes can add up to hundreds of dollars.

  • Scammers don't give specific details about the travel offer. The offer says you’ll stay at a “five-star” resort or go on a “luxury” cruise ship. But if the organizer can’t or won’t give you more specific details, like the address of the hotel or the cruise company's name, walk away.

  • Scammers say the only way to pay for your vacation rental is by wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency. This is how they ask you to pay because once they’ve collected the money, it’s almost impossible to get it back. That’s a scam, every time.

  • Scammers pressure you to make a quick decision about a vacation package or rental. If someone says you have to decide whether to buy a travel package or rent a vacation property right away, don’t do it. Scammers want to rush you. So move on and find another option.

  • Scammers advertise premium vacation properties for super cheap prices. Is the rent a lot less than comparable rentals? Below-market rent can be a sign of a scam.

3 Ways To Avoid Travel Scams
  • Don’t sign or pay until you know the terms of the deal. Get a copy of the cancellation and refund policies before you pay. If you can’t get those details, walk away. Say “no thanks” to anyone who tries to rush you without giving you time to consider the offer.

  • Do some research. Look up travel companies, hotels, rentals, and agents with the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” See what others say about them before you commit. Also, check that the address of the property really exists. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm their location and other details on the contract.

  • Don’t pay with wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. Dishonest travel package promoters might tell you to pay in one of these ways, but that’s a sure sign of a scam. If you pay with wire transfers, gifts cards, or cryptocurrency and there’s a problem with what you paid for, you’ll lose your money, and there’s likely no way to track it or get it back.

Financial Tips for a Stress-Free Vacation
You’ve booked your flight from a trusted vendor, set up your itinerary, and even finished your packing list. Now is the time to make the financial preparations for your trip. Traveling should be fun, not a source of financial stress. Here are some simple tips to help you plan ahead so you can relax and unwind on your summer vacation.

  • Notify Citizens Bank before you leave to provide a travel notification. We take fraud very seriously, and use of a credit or debit card in a brand new location is a big red flag that could get your account temporarily suspended. To prevent this from happening, contact Citizens Bank at least one week before your trip.

  • Set up Digital Banking and download the Citizens Bank (OR) app to your phone. Check your balances, pay your bills, and transfer funds wherever you are. Sign up for eStatements so there will be less mail to go through when you return.

  • Have the Post Office hold your mail. In addition to keeping your mailbox clear, placing a hold on your mail helps protect sensitive information like bank and credit card statements.

  • Make sure your credit and debit cards are ready to travel. Double-check card expiration dates & spending limits and write down the phone numbers for customer service. Keep them in a separate, safe place in case you need to call them for any reason. 

  • With cash, plan ahead. If you’re traveling domestically, be sure to have some cash on hand in case there isn’t an ATM available. If you’re traveling internationally, order foreign currency* at least a week before you leave so you’ll have local currency ready to go as soon as you arrive.
    *Processing fees apply.

  • Be careful what you share online. Update your privacy settings on your social media accounts to ensure you’re only sharing with those you know and trust. Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi to prevent strangers from seeing what you’re doing on your device. Update your device’s security software, operating system, and applications for the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

Protect Your Online Information

The internet offers access to a world of products and services, entertainment, and information. At the same time, it creates opportunities for scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Learn how to protect your computer, your information, and your online files.

Update Your Software. Outdated software is easier for criminals to break into. Keep your software – including your operating system, the web browsers you use to connect to the Internet, and your apps – up to date to protect against the latest threats. Most software can update automatically, so make sure to set yours to do so.

Protect Your Personal Information. In an effort to steal your information, scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy. Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. So every time you are asked for your personal information – whether in a web form, an email, a text, or a phone message – think about why someone needs it and whether you can really trust the request. 

Protect Your Passwords. Here are a few ideas for creating strong passwords and keeping them safe:

  • Use at least 10 characters; 12 is ideal for most home users.
  • Try to be unpredictable – don’t use names, dates, or common words. Mix numbers, symbols, and capital letters into the middle of your password, not at the beginning or end.
  • Don’t use the same password for many accounts. If it’s stolen from you – or from one of the companies where you do business – thieves can use it to take over all your accounts.
  • Don’t share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email. Legitimate companies will not ask you for your password.
  •  If you write down a password, keep it locked up, out of plain sight.
  • Change your passwords every 90 days.

Consider Turning On Two-Factor Authentication. For accounts that support it, two-factor authentication requires both your password and an additional piece of information to log in to your account. The second piece could be a code sent to your phone or a random number generated by an app or a token. This protects your account even if your password is compromised.

Give Personal Information Over Encrypted Websites Only. If you’re shopping or banking online, stick to sites that use encryption to protect your information as it travels from your computer to their server. To determine if a website is encrypted, look for https at the beginning of the web address. That means the site is more secure.

Back Up Your Files. No system is completely secure. Copy your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. If your computer is attacked by malware, you’ll still have access to your files. 

Monitor Your Credit Files and Account Statements Closely.  If you feel your information has been compromised, contact your financial institution immediately.  Citizens Bank customers, contact your local Branch or call (844) 770-7100.  If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name. Here is the contact information for each bureau’s fraud division:
  • Equifax:  800-525-6285 
  • Experian:  888-397-3742
  • TransUnion:  800-680-7289

Scam on keyboard
According to an FBI report, last year more than 88,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of $3.1 billion to scammers and fraud crimes. Here are some of the most popular scams criminals use to attack seniors:

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