Fraud Protection Best Practices for Computer or Mobile Device Users

Never disclose via text message, phone call or email your personal or financial information, including account numbers, passwords, Social Security number or birth date.

Be suspicious of any emails that claim to be from a financial institution – including CoBank – a government agency or other entity, that request account information or verification of account or login credentials such as user names, passwords, personal identification number (PINs), etc.

Be wary of emails with links or attachments requiring you to change or verify your account information, as they often contain malicious code that could expose your company's login and account credentials to fraudsters.

Be wary of odd, strangely worded or unexpected emails from friends and acquaintances, or business emails that contain misspellings or grammatical errors. This may indicate that the impersonated email account has been compromised.

If you are suspicious of an email request, call the company using a publicly available phone number, not one provided in the email, to verify the request. If you use the contact information provided in the email, the fraudster might reply that the message is safe.

Use complex passwords consisting of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters; do not use names and special dates that may be known or determined by others.

Do not write down or share your password with anyone, and do not allow your browser or other password tools to store and automatically populate your password on your banking websites. Passwords stored in tools that automatically populate fields on websites could allow a malicious user to recover your password.

Protect your answers to security questions. Select questions and provide answers that are easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess. Avoid choosing questions for which the answer can be discerned via social networking sites or public websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Use distinct passwords and security questions for each application or website you access. This will help mitigate the potential for all of the systems you access from becoming compromised if the password for a single site or application is disclosed.

Be selective of the information you post on your business and personal social media sites.

Do not use public computers to access your online banking account or other sites that have sensitive information.

Do not click on links or open attachments in emails or text messages from unknown sources.

Implement web filtering (content filtering) to block access to websites known or suspected of being compromised or spreading malware.

Secure Your Computer

  • Install and maintain antivirus and firewall software on all computers and mobile devices.
  • Ensure your antivirus software is updated on a regular basis. Most antivirus software can be configured to automatically update on a weekly or daily basis (or even more frequently).
  • Run anti-virus software in active or real-time scanning mode. This allows the software to actively scan all incoming messages, files or websites being accessed to identify and prevent malicious content from running on your computer.
  • Run a full or comprehensive antivirus scan on a regular basis. These scans may detect viruses or other malware that is missed by real-time scanning.
  • Set your computer to automatically install operating system and software updates and patches. A fully updated and patched system is less susceptible to becoming infected with malware.
  • Take note of unusual behavior, slowness, pop-up windows or other unexpected changes. If these are noted, have a comprehensive scan run against the computer with fully updated antivirus software. Do not access sensitive systems, websites or other applications until the computer has been verified to be safe.
  • Do not access your computer with an Administrator (Admin) or Power User level account for daily use. Computers being run with general user level permissions are less susceptible to becoming infected with viruses, Trojan horses or other malware.
  • Set your web browser to a higher level of security.

Secure Your Mobile Device

  • Make sure your smart phone, tablet and other mobile devices are password protected.
  • Download antivirus protection for your phone, tablet, e-reader or any other device that has mobile access to the Internet.
  • Do not bypass limitations set by your carrier or device manufacturer by rooting or jailbreaking your mobile device, which can remove the built-in protections to defend against mobile threats.
  • Beware of everything you download onto your device, including applications. Only use reputable application markets. Verify the permissions the application requests to ensure they are appropriate for what the application is meant to do.