As banking technology continues to improve, fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks. At Synergy Bank, our top priority is to safeguard your confidential information and protect your assets.

The best way to combat cybercrime is to educate our customers on best practices in cybersecurity that you can do at home or at your business. Synergy Bank uses the latest technology to secure your information when transmitted over the Internet. Here are some things you can do to protect your information:

Protect From Fraud

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Protecting Seniors From Financial Abuse

Be organized, proactive, and aware to protect yourself, family and friends from financial abuse

It’s easier than ever to handle our finances without setting foot inside a bank with so many advances in technology, but these changes have also made fraud and financial abuse a prevalent problem for older adults. Most elder financial abuse involves scams, forgery, identity theft, or undue pressure to give someone access to property or funds by simply providing information over the phone. Older adults are often targeted for such exploitation because they may be perceived as trusting, they may be cognitively impaired, they may have more funds available after a lifetime of saving, and potentially less exposure to technological advances.

Tips for Protecting Finances

Seniors can protect themselves from financial abuse by making sure financial records are organized and being aware of how much money is in all accounts. In addition, you can protect your assets by talking to someone at your bank, an attorney, or a financial advisor to discuss your options for ensuring your wishes for managing your money and property are followed in the event you become incapacitated. Other activities to help protect yourself include:

  • Carefully choosing a trustworthy person to share your financial planning matters with so they can assist you with tracking your finances if you are unable to do so yourself.
  • Locking up your checkbook, account statements, and other sensitive information.
  • Ordering copies of your credit report to review for suspicious activity. 
  • Never providing personal information, including your Social Security number, account numbers, or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Asking for details in writing and getting a second opinion from a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
  • Paying with checks and credit cards instead of cash to have records of transactions.

Tips for Family and Friends

Family and friends can also help by being aware of the many ways in which an older person may be financially exploited. There are many scams and frauds that attempt to get bank account information or Social Security numbers from the elderly to steal their identity or money. Be on the lookout for signs of possible financial abuse, including:

  • Unexplained account withdrawals.
  • Another individual unexpectedly making financial decisions on the older person’s behalf.
  • Disappearance of funds or valuable possessions.
  • Unanticipated transfer of assets to another individual.
  • Sudden changes to a will or other important financial documents.
  • Suspicious signatures on checks.

If you suspect elder financial abuse, talk to the victim to determine what is happening and who is involved. For instance, you’ll want to know whether a new person in their life is helping them manage their money or a relative is using their credit card without permission. If financial abuse seems likely, you may want to contact your state’s adult protective services and the local police for assistance.

You should also contact any bank or other financial institution involved to notify them of the potential abuse, and they may be able to assist you. They may not be able to provide you with specific information about accounts or transactions due to privacy laws, but they have the ability to review information for potential abuse as well as the resources to report abuse.

Also be aware of consumer financial protection regulations that help protect funds withdrawn from an account without authorization. For example, most cases of fraud and identity theft are committed using an access device, such as when an individual steals an older person’s debit card and pin number to withdraw money from a checking account.

The Electronic Fund Transfer Act, which is implemented through Regulation E, protects consumers from losses that may occur as a result of certain unauthorized electronic financial transactions, such as unauthorized ATM withdrawals and point-of-sale terminal transfers in stores. If a debit card or the card number is used to make an unauthorized withdrawal from a checking or savings account, you can minimize your losses by contacting your bank as soon as possible. Your maximum liability under Regulation E is $50 if you notify your bank within two business days after learning of the loss. Additionally, many credit card issuers have zero-liability policies, meaning that customers typically do not pay for unauthorized transactions, so contact your credit card issuer as soon as you discover any.

For more help or information, go to FDIC.gov or call the FDIC toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342).

Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

How To Recognize and Report Spam Text Messages

If you have a cell phone, you probably use it dozens of times a day to text people you know. But have you ever gotten a text message from an unknown sender? It could be a scammer trying to steal your personal information.

Spam Text Messages and Phishing

Scammers send fake text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information – things like your password, account number, or Social Security number. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers.

The scammers use a variety of ever-changing stories to try to rope you in. They may promise free prizes, gift cards or coupons, offer you a low or no interest credit card, or promise to help you pay off your student loans.

Scammers also send fake messages that say they have some information about your account or a transaction. The scammers may say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account, claim there’s a problem with your payment information, send you a fake invoice and tell you to contact them if you didn’t authorize the purchase, or send you a fake package delivery notification.

The messages might ask you to give some personal information — like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number — to claim your gift or pursue the offer. Or they may tell you to click on a link to learn more about the issue. Some links may take you to a spoofed website that looks real but isn’t. If you log in, the scammers can then steal your username and password.

Other messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it.

What To Do About Spam Text Messages

If you get a text message that you weren’t expecting and it asks you to give some personal information, don’t click on any links. Legitimate companies won’t ask for information about your account by text.

If you think the message might be real, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the text message.

There are many ways you can filter unwanted text messages or stop them before they reach you.

On your phone

Your phone may have an option to filter and block messages from unknown senders or spam. Here’s how to filter and block messages on an iPhone and how to block a phone number on an Android phone.

Through your wireless provider

Your wireless provider may have a tool or service that lets you block calls and text messages. Check ctia.org, a website for the wireless industry, to learn about the options from different providers.

With a call-blocking app

Some call-blocking apps also let you block unwanted text messages. Go to ctia.org for a list of call-blocking apps for Android, BlackBerry, Apple, and Windows phones.

You can also search for apps online. Check out the features, user ratings, and expert reviews.

How To Report Spam Text Messages

If you get an unwanted text message, there are three ways to report it:

  • Report it on the messaging app you use. Look for the option to report junk or spam.
  • How to report spam or junk in the Messages app
  • How to report spam on an Android phone
  • Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM).
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Protecting Against Post-Disaster Scams

After Hurricane Ida, our community has seen many local organizations, businesses, and individuals step up to help one another. Neighbors helping neighbors is just one reason the Bayou Region will recover and rebuild. 

Unfortunately, there are others who take advantage of communities in post-disaster recovery. It’s important to stay aware of potential fraud and scams and remain vigilant in protecting your personal information. 

Here are some tips to help you avoid common post-disaster scams.

Research contractors and ask for references before hiring. Some may quote outrageous prices, demand payment up-front, or lack the skills needed. Ask for identification, contractor’s license, and insurance, as well as how long they have been in business and three recent recommendations from the area. 

Get bids and contracts in writing. Don’t take anyone’s word on estimates, guarantees, or promises. By having these in writing, it protects both you and the contractor. Make sure you fully read and understand anything you sign. In addition, do not make payments for work by wire transfer, gift card, or in cash. Only make your final payment if the work is done and you’re satisfied.

Be wise to rental listing scams. Steer clear of people who tell you to wire money or ask for security deposits or rent before you’ve met, viewed the property, or signed a lease.

Guard your personal information. Only scammers will say they’re an official and then demand money or your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number. FEMA doesn’t charge application fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, that’s probably a scam.

If you applied to FEMA, you may be visited by an inspector. FEMA inspectors will always have an official identification badge. Ask to see their ID upon arrival. If you did not apply for FEMA assistance, tell the inspector. This means it is likely someone has made a claim in your name. If the inspector has left, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 and tell them you did not apply. 

While it is frustrating for our residents to have to deal with these risks while rebuilding, it is also encouraging to see all the good happening in our community. If you are able, we encourage you to lend a helping hand to someone in need. Together, we will rebuild the Bayou Region stronger than ever. We are Stronger Together.  

Act Immediately if You Are a Victim of a Scam

  • Put a fraud alert on your credit reports. Contact one of the major U.S. credit bureaus so that no financial institution grants new credit without your approval. Confirm that they will contact the other two companies. The fraud alert can be placed for 90 days and then renewed afterwards. Get your free credit report and dispute any errors, such as accounts you didn’t open or debits you do not recognize.  Also, contact the fraud department of each business that reported the errors.
  • Close accounts accessed or opened fraudulently. Notify Synergy Bank and any of your other financial institutions to alert them of the fraud. Open new accounts with new passwords and PINs.
  • You should file a police report. Get a copy to show your bank that you are a crime victim. Also, report to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/idtheft or call 1.877.438.4438.
  • Keep records of your efforts as you go. Create a log of all telephone calls and the person with whom you spoke. Send letters by certified mail and ask for a return receipt. Keep a file of all documents.

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General Guidelines

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How To Limit Data Online

When you do anything online, you leave a trail. Learn how online tracking works and what you can do about it.

Cookies
When you visit a website, it might place a file called a cookie on your browser. Websites use cookies to customize your browsing experience. When a website you visit places a cookie on your browser, that’s a first-party cookie. Here are some examples of how websites may use first-party cookies:

  • A news website shows local weather and stories about topics you’re interested in.
  • A website remembers your username or items you left in your shopping cart.

The websites you visit often allow other companies to place cookies as well — for example, to deliver ads targeted to you. These are third-party cookies. Here are some examples of third-party cookies:

  • An advertising company places a cookie and sees that you visited a website about running. It then shows you an ad for running shoes when you visit other sites.
  • An analytics company uses a cookie to get details about your visit to a website — like how much time you spent on the site and the pages you visited. It can use the information it collects to spot problems with the site and make it better.

Other Online Tracking
Companies may track you using methods that are not based on cookies. For example, when you use an app on your smartphone, advertisers may use a unique identifier generated by your smartphone to track you.
Or they may use a technique called device fingerprinting. Device fingerprinting uses your browser’s unique configurations and settings to track your activity.

Companies may also use techniques to connect your identity to the different devices you use to go online — say, your laptop and your smartphone — and then tailor ads to you across all your devices.

What You Can Do About Online Tracking
You can’t completely get rid of targeted ads, but a few steps can help. The steps you take on one device (like your laptop) usually do not carry over to your other devices (like your mobile phone). And if you use more than one browser, the changes you make to one browser don’t affect the others. So remember to check all your devices and browsers.

There’s no global, one-stop solution. Expect to spend some time modifying the settings the first time you do this. After that, follow-up checks should take less time.


Change Your Browser Privacy Settings
You can choose to have more privacy when you go online by adjusting the privacy settings on the browsers you use. These settings let you do things like:

  • See what cookies are on your computer and delete them
  • Decide what type of cookies you want to allow, including tailoring those settings by website
  • Turn on private browsing mode

If you clear your cookies instead of blocking them, they’ll be set again when you browse, so you may need to clear them from time to time.

Here’s how to change the privacy and security settings on different browsers:

Make sure to adjust the settings on each device and each browser you use.

Change Your Smartphone Privacy Settings
Most mobile devices have privacy settings that let you control whether ads will be targeted to you based on your app usage and browsing activity. These may include:

  • Reset advertising identifiers: Under the “advertising” section of your phone’s privacy settings, you may find an option to reset advertising identifiers. If you reset, your device will generate a new identifier. Any data associated with your previous advertising identifier will not be linked to your new identifier. But tracking will start fresh with your new identifier. Keep in mind that this setting relates to tracking while you are using apps. To address privacy when you use a mobile web browser, use the controls in your browser or one of the opt-out tools described below.

  • Tracking control: Apple introduced a setting that requires app developers to ask for permission before they track your activity across apps or websites. As you use an app, you may see a notice asking if you want to allow the app to track your activity. If you decline, the app can’t access your device’s advertising identifier.

  • Location controls: Many companies access your device location to send you ads based on your location. Your device’s location controls let you limit the sharing of your location. You’ll usually find these controls under the “location services” section of your privacy settings.

  • Ad personalization: In the “advertising” section of your privacy settings, there may be a “Personalized Ads” or “Ad Personalization” control. If you turn off personalized ads, your phone will stop using your info to show you targeted ads.

Opt Out of Targeted Advertising
Groups representing members of the advertising industry — the Digital Advertising Alliance and the Network Advertising Initiative — also have free opt-out tools. If you want to opt out, be sure to opt out on each device and browser.

Consider an Ad Blocker
Ad blockers keep ads from popping up or appearing on your browser. They work by filtering specific content according to rules set by the program or by the user. A wide range of ad blockers is available and you can find them by searching online. Compare features and reviews to decide which ad blocker is best for you.

Ad blockers don’t necessarily block all ads. That’s because some companies’ ad blockers show ads from advertisers that meet certain criteria set by the company. Ad blockers also do not detect or block viruses or malware.

Change Your Internet-Connected TV Privacy Settings
If you have an internet-connected TV, you may also want to change the settings that let companies track information about what you watch. Many streaming devices and smart TVs have privacy settings that let you control advertising data collection and use. Search online for the name of your television or streaming device and “privacy settings” to get specific guidance on how to adjust these settings. 

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Defend Your Computer

  • Install antivirus and anti-spyware from a trusted source. These programs monitor your computer for viruses and spyware and will alert you if they find something.
  • Keep all software up-to-date. Regularly install updates for all of the software on your computer and operating systems.
  • Make sure the passwords for your router and wireless connection at home is strong.

User ID & Passwords

  • Use strong passwords. Passwords should consist of long phrases that use a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Change passwords frequently.
  • Keep passwords secret. Do not share passwords or PIN numbers with anyone. If you have to write them down, keep them in a locked and secure place away from your computer.

Online Banking

  • Do not use public or other unsecured computers for logging into Online Banking.
  • Review account balances and detail transactions regularly to confirm transactions and immediately report any suspicious transactions to Synergy Bank’s customer service.
  • Take advantage of system alerts such as text notifications and daily balance notifications.
  • Never leave a computer unattended when using Online Banking.

Tips to Avoid Phishing, Spyware, & Malware

  • Do not open e-mail from unknown sources.
  • Be suspicious of e-mails claiming to be from a financial institution, government department, or other agency requesting account information, account verification, or banking access credentials such as usernames, passwords, PIN codes, and similar information. Opening file attachments or clicking on web links in suspicious e-mails could expose your system to malicious code that could hijack your computer.
  • Never respond to a suspicious e-mail or click on any hyperlink embedded in a suspicious e-mail. Call the suspected source if you are unsure who sent an e-mail.
  • If an email claiming to be from your financial organization seems suspicious, checking with your financial organization may be appropriate.
  • Do not send sensitive information via email, instant messages, or text messages. These methods may not be secure.
  • Be aware of phishing scams. Phishing is the use of emails, instant or text messages to convince you to divulge sensitive information. Synergy Bank will never ask you to give personal or account information in an email.
  • Don’t be tricked into downloading malware. Be cautious about opening attachments or clicking links in an email or on social networks, even if you know the sender. Confirm with them that the message is legitimate. 

Shopping Online Safely

  • Check for evidence of encryption. A secure web address usually begins with “https” rather than “http” and has a closed padlock in the address bar or in the lower right corner of the window.
  • Initiate transactions from your home computer. The security of a public computer and wireless connection may be unreliable. Monitor your account activity for suspicious transactions.
  • Make safe online transactions. Buy from reputable stores and donate to legitimate charities. Read the site’s privacy policy to see if they sell your information. Be sure to print and save a copy of your order so that you have a record of the purchase.

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Mobile Banking & Texting

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Mobile Banking Security Tips

Managing your finances using a smartphone or tablet can be very convenient. However, you should consider these safety tips to protect your account information:

  • Be proactive in protecting your smartphone and/or tablet by installing anti-malware software on the device.
  • Research any application (app) before you download it. Fraudulent apps are often designed with names that look like real apps. It’s best if you access an app using a link from the provider’s website.
  • Use an auto-lock or time-out feature so your device will lock when it is left unused for a certain period of time.
  • Upgrade your device to the latest operating system version.
  • Do not jailbreak or root your mobile device. Doing so exposes the security controls and makes your device vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
  • Check your account history periodically to make sure there are no fraudulent transactions.
  • Before your device is lost or stolen, take precautions before hand. Avoid leaving your device unattended in public places.
  • Consult your wireless provider to see if they provide a service to remotely erase your device or turn off access to your device and/or account in the event your device is lost or stolen.
  • Always conduct your transactions in a safe environment. Use your cellular service or your own internet provider rather than unsecured/public Wi-Fi networks like those offered at coffee shops.
  • Don’t send account numbers or PIN in emails or text messages, because those methods are not necessarily secure.

How To Recognize and Report Spam Text Messages

If you have a cell phone, you probably use it dozens of times a day to text people you know. But have you ever gotten a text message from an unknown sender? It could be a scammer trying to steal your personal information. Find out what you can do about unwanted text messages and how to report them.


Spam Text Messages and Phishing
Scammers send fake text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information – things like your password, account number, or Social Security number. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers.

The scammers use a variety of ever-changing stories to try to rope you in. They may:

  • Promise free prizes, gift cards or coupons
  • Offer you a low or no interest credit card
  • Promise to help you pay off your student loans

Scammers also send fake messages that say they have some information about your account or a transaction. The scammers may:

  • Say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account
  • Claim there’s a problem with your payment information
  • Send you a fake invoice and tell you to contact them if you didn’t authorize the purchase
  • Send you a fake package delivery notification

The messages might ask you to give some personal information — like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number — to claim your gift or pursue the offer. Or they may tell you to click on a link to learn more about the issue. Some links may take you to a spoofed website that looks real but isn’t. If you log in, the scammers can then steal your user name and password.

Other messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it.
 
What To Do About Spam Text Messages
If you get a text message that you weren’t expecting and it asks you to give some personal information, don’t click on any links. Legitimate companies won’t ask for information about your account by text.

If you think the message might be real, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the text message.

There are many ways you can filter unwanted text messages or stop them before they reach you.

  • On your phone: Your phone may have an option to filter and block messages from unknown senders or spam. Here’s how to filter and block messages on an iPhone and how to block a phone number on an Android phone.

  • Through your wireless provider: Your wireless provider may have a tool or service that lets you block calls and text messages. Check ctia.org, a website for the wireless industry, to learn about the options from different providers.

  • With call-blocking app: Some call-blocking apps also let you block unwanted text messages. Go to ctia.org for a list of call-blocking apps for Android, BlackBerry, Apple, and Windows phones. You can also search for apps online. Check out the features, user ratings, and expert reviews.

How To Report Spam Text Messages
If you get an unwanted text message, there are three ways to report it:

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Additional Resources & Contacts

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Consumer Education Videos

All videos are provided by the Federal Trade Commission. See the FTC's Consumer Information site for more information.

Computer Security Tips:

Protect Your Computer from Malware:

Public Wi-Fi Networks — Security Tips:

Consumer Protection

Learn more about how to protect your bank accounts, prevent identity fraud, and other important financial information. Choose one of the links below for more information:

Credit Reporting Companies

Equifax - 1.800.525.6285
Experian - 1.888.397.3742
TransUnion - 1.800.680.7289

Local Law Enforcement

Houma PD – 985-873-6371
Thibodaux PD – 985-446-5021
Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office – 985-876-2500 
Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office – 985-448-2111

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