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Protect Your Identity and Accounts

Internet Security

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Identity theft and account fraud are serious issues. And, at The Middlefield Banking Company, we believe the more you understand how they can occur, the better you'll be able to take precautions to protect yourself. The Middlefield Banking Company works hard every day to ward off these threats, but even tighter security is possible only with your help.

Identity theft and account fraud happen when someone steals personal information such as your bank account number or Social Security number and then poses as you, either withdrawing money from your account or running up debt in your name, or both. The threat is real, and the government estimates 400,000 people are victimized by these crimes each year.

Here's what you can do to stop these crimes before they happen-and protect your assets and your good name:

  1. Don’t give out financial information such as checking account and credit card numbers—and especially your social Security number—on the phone unless you initiate the call and know the person or organization you’re dealing with. Don’t give that information to any stranger, even one claiming to be from The Middlefield Banking Company.
     
  2. Don’t pre-print your driver’s license, telephone or Social Security numbers on your checks.
     
  3. Report lost or stolen checks immediately. The Middlefield Banking Company will block payment on the check numbers involved. Also, review new checks to make sure none has been stolen in transit.
     
  4. Store cancelled checks—and new checks—in a safe place.
     
  5. Notify The Middlefield Banking Company of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to "verify a statement" or "award a prize."
     
  6. Guard your Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) for your ATM and credit cards, and don’t write on or keep your PINs with your cards. You should also guard your ATM and credit card receipts. Thieves can use them to access your accounts.
     
  7. Be creative in selecting Personal Identification Numbers for your ATM and credit cards, and passwords that enable you to access other accounts. Don’t use birth dates, part of your Social Security Number or driver’s license number, address, or children’s or spouse’s names. Remember: If someone has stolen your identity, he or she probably has some or all of this information.
     
  8. If you receive financial solicitations that you’re not interested in, tear them up before throwing them away, so thieves can’t use them to assume your identity. Destroy any other financial documents, such as bank statements or invoices, before disposing of them.
     
  9. Don’t put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a secure, official Postal Service collection box. Thieves may use your mail to steal your identity.
     
  10. If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address notice to divert your information to his or her address.
     
  11. If your bills include suspicious items, don’t ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
     
  12. The Middlefield Banking Company is committed to ensuring the privacy of your online transactions through the latest security technology. That’s why for Internet-based communications we require the use of a browser that supports 128-bit encryption for the new, Internet-based product, EasyLink Online Banking. 128-bit encryption is the highest level of data protection that is commonly available in today's Internet browsers and is needed to provide the approximate level of security we provide for our non-Internet based online banking products, such as EasyLink Online Banking, which uses a dial-up or "virtual private network" approach to transmission security.
     
    Another online safety feature is your password. Every time you log on to EasyLink Online Banking, you are required to enter your ID and password. You control both and can change your password at any time. For your safety, you should not reveal your password to anyone. For more information about how you are protected when using EasyLink Online Banking, or for more information about encryption, click here.
     
  13. Periodically contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and make certain the information is correct. For a small fee, you can obtain a copy of your credit report at any time. (Please note that in some states or municipalities, you may be legally entitled to these reports free of charge. Check with the credit bureau when ordering the report.) The three major credit bureaus are:
    • Equifax 1-800-525-6285
    • Experian 1-888-397-3742
    • TransUnion 1-800-680-7289

If You’re a Victim of Identity Theft or Account Fraud

The unauthorized use of someone’s identity is a serious matter to The Middlefield Banking Company. If you’re a victim of identity theft or account fraud, you should call your The Middlefield Banking Company customer service representative immediately. The Middlefield Banking Company will work with you to correct all unauthorized transactions in your The Middlefield Banking Company accounts and correct any incorrect reports to credit bureaus, and will attempt to protect you from any future identity theft or account fraud. We also suggest that you immediately:

  • Call the fraud departments of all three credit bureaus. Ask them to put a "fraud alert" on your file. This tells creditors to call you before they open any more accounts in your name.
    • Equifax 1-800-525-6285
    • Experian 1-888-397-3742
    • TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
  • Contact your local police and ask to file a report. Even if the police can’t catch the identity thief, having a police report can help you in clearing up your credit records later on.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Call the FTC’s identity theft hotline toll-free at 1 (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338). The hotline is staffed by counselors trained to help victims and take their complaints. You may also file a complaint online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
  • Complete the identity theft affidavit, which will assist you in reporting to many companies that a new account has been open in your name. Obtain a copy of the identity theft affidavit by clicking the link.

Together, you and The Middlefield Banking Company may be able to head off identity theft and account fraud before they ever happen. If you would like more information about identity theft, you can do any or all of the following:

  1. Download a free PDF copy of a Guide - "What To Do In Case of Indentity Theft"
     
  2. Get more information on fighting identity theft from the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
     
  3. Visit the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) consumer website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
     
  4. Call the FTC toll-free at 1 (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338).

 

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