Protect Yourself


Look out for “spoofing” or “phishing”

The newest twist on this scam is a person receives a “spoofing” or “phishing” email asking them to call their bank to verify the email is legitimate.  Unfortunately, the phone number is a direct line to the criminals who could end up with all of your personal information if you fall for this trap.  What can you do?  Never call a number provided to you in an email. Instead, call the number on the back of your credit card or the number listed in the phone book for your banking institution. Only then can you be sure that you’re on the phone with who you think you are and not an identity theft criminal.

“Spoofing," or "phishing," are internet frauds that attempt to convince the receiver that they are receiving e-mail from a specific, trusted source, or that they are securely connected to a trusted web site, when that is not the case. Spoofing is generally used as a means to convince individuals to provide personal or financial information that enables the perpetrators to commit credit card/bank fraud or other forms of identity theft.

In "E-mail spoofing" the header of an e-mail appears to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source. Spam distributors and criminals often use spoofing in an attempt to get recipients to open and possibly even respond to their solicitations.

FBI Offers Tips on How to Protect Yourself

  • If you encounter an unsolicited e-mail that asks you, either directly, or through a web site, for personal financial or identity information, such as Social Security number, passwords, or other identifiers, exercise extreme caution.
  • If you need to update your information online, use the normal process you've used before, or open a new browser window and type in the website address of the legitimate company's account maintenance page.
  • If a website address is unfamiliar, it's probably not real. Only use the address that you have used before, or start at your normal homepage.
  • Always report fraudulent or suspicious e-mail to your ISP.
  • Most companies require you to log in to a secure site. Look for the lock at the bottom of your browser and "https" in front of the website address.
  • Take note of the header address on the web site. Most legitimate sites will have a relatively short internet address that usually depicts the business name followed by ".com," or possibly ".org." Spoof sites are more likely to have an excessively long strong of characters in the header, with the legitimate business name somewhere in the string, or possibly not at all.
  • If you have any doubts about an e-mail or website, contact the legitimate company directly. Make a copy of the questionable web site's URL address, send it to the legitimate business and ask if the request is legitimate.
  • If you've been victimized, you should contact your local police or sheriff's department.

How to protect your identity

Minimize your risk by managing your personal information

  • Bank Account Activity
    • Balance account statements immediately
    • Verify activity frequently (i.e. Online Banking, Direct Line)
    • Contact the Bank immediately if there is an error or something does not seem right
    • Contact the Bank if you don't receive your statement
    • Do not share passwords with anyone
  • Try to memorize passwords
    • If you do write them down, keep the PIN in a safe place
    • Do not keep the PIN with the ATM card, don't write it on the card and don't keep it in the wallet with the card
    • Do not keep the Online Banking password near the computer or programmed into your computer
    • When entering the password try to make sure that no one is watching
    • Shield the keypad when entering your password
    • Watch out for people holding cell phones standing near you as you make purchases with your Card; A single picture could give someone your name, card number and expiration date
    • Change your PIN or password, if you think some one else knows it (You can change your ATM or ATM Check Card PIN at our full service offices)
  • Pick a password that is not easy to guess
    • Avoid using your birth date, any part of your Social Security Number, your phone number, a series of consecutive numbers (i.e. 1234), your middle name, your mother's maiden name, your child's name, your spouse's name or your pet's name
    • When possible, use a mix of letters and numbers for added safety
    • When possible, change passwords regularly
  • Store your checks, cancelled checks, check book and personal information in a safe place
    • Verify that you have all of the checks
    • Look at the back of the check book and at the bottom of the check box
    • Be cautious about where you leave personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home
    • Contact the Bank immediately if your checks are lost or stolen
  • Do not give out personal information (on the phone, through the mail, by fax or over the Internet) unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you're dealing with
    • In these cases just hang up the phone, delete the e-mail and shred the letter or fax
    • Protect personal information such as: account numbers, PINs, passwords, social security number, birth date, mother's maiden name, any numbers on your ATM card, ATM Check Card (debit card) or credit card
    • Do not have personal information pre-printed on your checks (i.e. driver's license number, social security number, phone number, etc.) choose whom you give this information to
    • Remove Card numbers from receipts submitted for rebate offers
    • Don't answer surveys (some lure you with free gifts)
    • Know about common scams and how they try to get your information.
  • Before sharing your personal information with merchants, understand how it will be used
    • Find out if you have a choice about how it is used
  • Keep track of your Cards (ATM, ATM Check Card and Credit Cards)
    • Always check that they are in your wallet, purse, etc
    • Make sure you get the card back when making a purchase
    • If you can't find a Card (even if you think you just misplaced it) contact the Bank (the issuer of the card) immediately so we can "hot card" it to stop any further transactions with it
  • Lock up your car, house and valuables
    • Even in a locked vehicle, do not leave your purse, wallet or anything valuable visible
    • Even when you are working in the yard, lock the house
    • Never leave your purse or wallet unattended - even for a minute
    • Do not leave your purse or wallet in an unlocked public location (i.e. in your coat, in an unlocked locker at work, school or community center)
    • When shopping, keep track of your purse and wallet (don't leave your purse in the cart and turn around to look for an item)
    • Carry only the personal identification and Cards that you actually need in your purse or wallet (don't carry your social security number or birth certificate)
    • Make a list of all your bank accounts, credit cards and related account numbers; keep a list of corresponding customer service phone numbers; safeguard in a place other than a purse or wallet
    • Cancel credit lines that you no longer use
    • Guard mail from theft
    • Mail it at the Post Office or inside a U.S. Post Office mailbox
    • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after it has been delivered
    • Consider purchasing a locking mailbox
    • Know your billing cycles and watch for any missing mail
  • Guard trash from theft
    • Shred or destroy any trash that contains personal information (including bank account statements)
    • Shred or destroy credit card offers
    • Shred or destroy ATM, ATM Check Card and credit card receipts
    • Cut up or destroy old or expired Cards
  • Computers
    • Install virus software on your home computer and keep it updated
    • Use a firewall program, especially if you use a high-speed Internet connection like cable, DSL or T-1 (which leaves your computer connected to the Internet 24 hours a day)
    • Try not to store financial or personal information on your laptop unless absolutely necessary; if you do, use a strong password (combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols)
    • Don't use an automatic log-in feature
    • Always log off when finished
    • Be especially cautious when sharing information over the Internet, make sure websites have a closed padlock icon in the corner of the screen before submitting data
    • Do not share personal information through Internet chat rooms
    • Always make sure you are on the right website; imposters have created websites with similar names to trick unsuspecting consumers into revealing personal information
    • Before you dispose of a computer, delete personal information
    • Deleting files using the keyboard or mouse commands may not be enough because the files may stay on the computer's hard drive, where they may be easily retrieved
    • Use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive; it makes the files unrecoverable
    • Avoid using public computers (in places such as libraries or schools) when accessing personal information
    • Use a separate credit card for online transactions
    • Also have a lower limit on this credit card
  • Review your credit report from time to time

What to do if you are a victim

  • Act quickly! Identity thieves can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time
  • Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently
  • If you are closing existing accounts and opening new ones, use new passwords and PINs
  • Contact Lapeer County Bank & Trust Co., all other financial institutions, credit card companies, utilities, and other service providers
  • Call any one of the three major credit bureaus (numbers show below) to tell them your identity has been stolen (The company you call is required to contact the other two)
  • Request that a "fraud alert" be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval
  • Order credit reports and review them for problems (the credit reports are free when you are calling to report fraud on your account)
  • Report any discrepancies to the credit bureau in writing
  • Continue to check your reports periodically, especially in the first year after you've discovered the theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
    • Equifax: 800-525-6285
    • Experian: 888-397-3742
    • TransUnion: 800-680-7289
  • File a report with the police and get a copy of the report in case you need proof of the crime later for credit card companies, etc
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) theft hotline: 877-438-4338 or visit  They have information on their website regarding what to do if you are a victim of identity theft. A free booklet can be printed off their website called "Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft". (We also have free hard copies at the Bank.) The booklet contains samples of letters that you can send to the credit bureaus and key contacts and phone numbers.
  • Call the Social Security Fraud Hotline: 800-269-0271
    If your checks are used fraudulently, close your checking account and then contact the major check verification companies; ask that retailers who use their databases not accept your checks
    • Certegy, Inc. (previously Equifax Check Systems): 800-437-5120
    • SCAN: 800-262-7771
    • Telecheck: 800-710-9898 or 800-927-0188
  • If the crime involved theft from the mail, contact your local Postal Inspection office and keep a record of all related correspondence and conversations with individuals at:
    • Lapeer County Bank & Trust Co.
    • Any other financial institutions
    • Credit bureaus
    • Other agencies

Main Office: 83 W. Nepessing St. • P.O. Box 250 Lapeer, MI 48446
NMLS #458980