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Protecting Your Personal Information Is Important

(Even In North Dakota)

People who didn’t grow up in North Dakota are sometimes baffled by our inherent trust in one another. They are stunned to learn that many North Dakotans still routinely leave their cars, homes and businesses unlocked. Perhaps it is a feeling of “we’re all in this together” that puts our minds at ease. Or maybe it’s the fact that a remote farmstead with a curious black lab is rarely a profitable target for a burglar.

Either way, our faith in mankind can leave us somewhat vulnerable at times, especially on the internet. Unfortunately, in today’s changing times, identity theft is just as prevalent in rural areas as it is in the city. That’s why it’s so important for local banks to employ the very latest security measures in order to protect private customer information. 

“It’s important to choose a bank that is as focused on privacy as you are,” says Joe Fietek, Chief Information Officer at First United Bank, which serves northeastern North Dakota. “Just as our ag customers can’t rely on outdated equipment, we’re expected to stay current as well. We concentrate on security and privacy so they don’t have to.”

Modern Solutions Provide You With Peace Of Mind

We live in a digital world, where fields are scouted by drones and weeds are identified by databases. The days of paying cash, writing checks, or finalizing a deal with a handshake are changing. Just as folded paper maps have been replaced by smartphone navigation apps, more and more of our credentials and personal information are being exchanged digitally. As such, it has become more important than ever to employ safeguards when making transactions.

Specialized card-monitoring smartphone apps, for example, allow you to control and monitor card usage from virtually anywhere. You are alerted instantly when someone uses your card or card number to make a purchase. In fact, these apps often contain customizable settings that can be adjusted so that you can control when and where your cards can be used at all.

“They are the perfect tool to protect your card against fraud,” says Fietek. “You can even switch a card off if you misplace it – and reactivate it if you find it again.”

Protecting Your Good Name

Statistics show that someone is victimized by identity theft every two seconds. Much like a weed, an identity thief is opportunistic, targeting weak links or unprotected information. Diligent banks understand this and proactively put measures in place to strengthen customer privacy. 

One example is the ID TheftSmart service employed by First United Bank. For just a few dollars a month, ID TheftSmart experts advise customers on how to avoid identity theft and provide experienced assistance with putting a customer’s identity back in order if it is ever compromised. North Dakotans take pest control very seriously, and they’re used to putting measures in place to protect themselves and their property. With your bank’s help, identify theft can be handled in much the same way.

Concentrate On The Fundamentals

The United States government devotes a good number of pages on its web site to privacy and identity theft. Just as Midwesterners understand how important fundamentals are to something risky like winter driving (when it’s icy, we slow down), basic techniques can be just as helpful in keeping your personal and financial information safe. Here are just a few suggested online at www.usa.gov/identity-theft

  • Secure your Social Security number. Don’t carry it in your wallet and only give it out when absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t share personal information (birthdate, Social Security number, or bank account number) just because someone asks for it.
  • Review your credit card and bank account statements. Compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
  • Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its database.
  • Review your credit reports once a year. Be certain that they don’t include accounts that you have not opened.

“Banking is so convenient now that it’s easy for folks to forget about the little things,” Fietek says. “That’s when it’s nice to deal with a bank that is looking out for you.”

You can learn more about identity theft on www.usa.gov/identity-theft.