Account Access

Fraud Prevention & Online Security

Whether you bank online, in person or by phone, we're constantly working to protect you from criminal activity. Learn more about fraud and identity theft – and what to do in case you become a victim.

Learn

Online Fraud

Online fraud occurs when someone poses as a legitimate company to obtain your sensitive personal data and illegally conducts transactions on your existing accounts.
Often called "phishing" or "spoofing," the most current methods of online fraud are fake emails, websites and pop-up windows, or any combination of these.
Always keep in mind that any unsolicited request for Home Federal account information you receive through emails, websites, or pop-up windows should be considered fraudulent and reported to us immediately.

Identity Theft

By understanding exactly what identity theft is, how it happens, and how it affects you, you will be better able to prevent and, if necessary, resolve identity theft.

Identity theft occurs when someone illegally obtains your personal information—such as your Social Security number, bank account number, or other identification—and uses it repeatedly to open new accounts or initiate transactions in your name. Essentially, they try to become you. For example, someone might do a combination of the following: open new credit cards, open new bank accounts, forge checks and even apply for loans using your name and personal information. This can cause financial loss and damage your credit, which can lead to a lengthy resolution process.

Keep in mind however, that even if you think your security has been compromised, it does not automatically mean that you are a victim of identity theft. It might be an incorrect entry or an isolated incident of theft from your Home Federal account that is quickly resolved by calling 1-888-489-5355

Methods Identity Thieves use to acquire key pieces of personal information

  • Theft of your wallet, purse, or checkbook.
  • Removing mail from your mailbox, either incoming or outgoing.
  • Going through your trash.
  • Phishing - Obtaining information by email scams or fraudulent websites.
  • Hacking - Illegally gaining access to computer systems containing personal or financial data.
  • Pretext Calling - Using false pretenses to obtain information via telephone.
How Home Federal protects you
  • When you call us, our staff will ask for your personal identifying information and information from your account to ensure it's you on the phone and not someone posing as you.
  • Our staff will never call you and ask for your account information. If someone else calls you asking for account information, do not provide it.
  • Secure e-Mail: Although email is a very convenient way to contact us, it is not secure and information sent in email may be compromised. Never email us your tax identification number or account numbers. If you want to provide some of this information, please only provide the last 4 digits of your tax identification number or account number. We will be happy to send you a secure email so you can register and send us full tax identification or account number information.
  • MasterCard SecureCode - Home Federal is working with MasterCard to protect your debit card against unauthorized activity online. This service allows you to register your card and create a Personal Code. When making purchases online, a Merchant also working with MasterCard will ask you to enter your Personal Code when using your Debit Card for payment. This is to ensure you are in possession of your card at the time of purchase and someone else is not trying to use it. For more information or to enroll, click here.
  • Debit Card Fraud Monitoring – Home Federal has a neural network that learns how you use your Home Federal debit card: where you use your card geographically, purchases are made online and/or at the merchant's location, and the amounts of your purchases. If a transaction is presented that is not part of your normal activity, you may receive a phone call from us to verify you initiated the transaction. This phone call may be from our automated system or from one of our staff. During this call, you may be asked to verify your identity, but we will never ask for your account number.

Home Federal considers the security of your financial information a top priority. We take extensive security measures to ensure a safe and reliable online experience for all of our customers.

  • The first level of security is password protection. To gain access to an account, a user must verify his or her identity with a password.
  • The second level of security is firewall protection. All Home Federal systems are protected with firewalls that limit access to only those customers providing the proper passwords.
  • The third level of security is 128-bit key SSL encryption. Before data is exchanged between the customer and the bank, it is encoded or scrambled with 128-bit key SSL encryption.

Additionally, the federal government provides significant protection. Federal laws and regulations protect you from fraudulent credit card usage as well as from unauthorized online banking activity.

Prevent

General Tips:
  • Carry only necessary identification. In particular, do not carry your Social Security card.
  • When a Social Security number is requested to sign up for a service, confirm that it is actually needed rather than some other identifier.
  • Make photocopies of all the information you carry daily and store them in a secure location like a safe deposit box.
  • Shred financial or personal documents before discarding. Most fraud and identity theft incidences happen as a result of mail and garbage theft.
  • Utilize paperless options and limit your receipt of paper statements by managing your accounts online with Home Federal Online® or Home Federal Business Online ® Banking. Checking your balances online can help you regularly monitor your account activity and more quickly detect any fraudulent transactions.
  • Receive and pay bills online with Bill Pay. The fewer personal documents sent through the mail, the less chance there is for possible fraud.
  • Always put outgoing mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox, which is more secure than your home mailbox.
  • Collect your mail promptly each day.
Be Aware:
  • With a few simple steps, you can help protect your Home Federal accounts and personal information from "fake" emails and web sites.
  • Delete suspicious emails without opening them. If you do open a suspicious email, do not open any attachments or click on any links it may contain.
  • Home Federal will never request personal information in response to an email. Never provide sensitive account or personal information in response to an email. If you have entered personal information, call Home Federal immediately.
  • When encountering a pop-up window, be aware of the following:
    Home Federal does not use pop-up windows to request customer account information.
  • We will never display a pop-up window on our site that you haven't requested by clicking on a link – all of our pop-up windows are user-initiated.
  • Pop-up windows are often the result of programs installed on your computer called "adware" or "spyware." These programs look in on your Web viewing activity and regularly come hidden inside many free downloads, such as music-sharing software or screen savers. Many of these programs enable harmless advertisements, but some contain "Trojan horse" programs that can record your keystrokes or relay other information to an unauthorized source.
Practice Safe Computing:

Home Federal wants to empower you with some tips you can take to help you protect your computer and your personal information when you are online.

  • Protect your passwords Keep your passwords in a secure place, and out of plain view. Don't share your passwords on the Internet, over email or on the phone. A Home Federal Associate will never ask for your password.
  • Use passwords that have at least eight characters and include numbers or symbols.
  • Avoid common words: some hackers use programs that can try every word in the dictionary
  • Do not use your personal information, your login name or adjacent keys on the keyboard as passwords
  • Change your passwords regularly (at a minimum, every 90 days)
  • Do not use the same password for each online account you access. One way to create a strong password is to think of a memorable phrase which is unique to you and use the first letter of each word as your password, converting some letters into numbers that resemble letters. For example, "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck" would become HmWc@wcC.
  • Keep your computer operating system up to date. If your computer is more than five years old, its operating system (e.g. Windows 98, OS 7, etc.) may not offer the same level of protection as newer systems. System manufacturers provide frequent updates to help make your system more secure. Some manufacturers supply updates automatically through email or via your Internet connection. You may also check their Web sites, including:
  • Use a current Web browser. To provide our customers with the most secure online access to their accounts, Home Federal continually upgrades our online services. In certain cases, the software you use to connect to the Internet (i.e. your Web browser) may eventually become unsuitable for sensitive transactions such as Internet banking. In order to maintain a high level of security, Home Federal does not allow access to Home Federal Online® or Home Federal Business Online® Banking using browsers that do not meet our security criteria. You may need to upgrade to a supported browser.
  • Install a personal firewall. Though most office networks include firewall protection, your home computer may benefit from this added level of security. Check to see if your operating system already includes a firewall prior to purchasing a separate one.
  • Install and update anti-virus software. Commercially available virus protection software helps reduce the risk of contracting computer viruses that can compromise your security. These programs offer continuous upgrades in response to the latest threats. Some of the most popular programs are:
  • Activate a pop-up blocker. Several free, publicly available programs exist that will block all pop-up windows from occurring while you are online. Perform an Internet search for "pop-up blocker" or look at the options provided by major search engines. You should confirm that these programs are from legitimate companies before downloading. Once you have installed a pop-up blocker, you should determine if it blocks information that you need to view or access. If this is the case, you should consider turning off the blocker when you are on Web sites you know use pop-windows to provide information you need or want to view.
  • Scan your computer for spyware regularly. You can eliminate potentially risky pop-up windows by removing any spyware or adware installed on your computer. Spyware and adware are programs that look in on your Web viewing activity and potentially relay information to a disreputable source. Perform an Internet search for "spyware" or "adware" to find free spyware removal programs. You should confirm that these programs are from legitimate companies before downloading. As with a pop-up blocker, you will want to be sure that your removal program is not blocking, or removing, wanted items, and if it is, consider turning it off on some Web sites.
  • Use secure Web sites for transactions and shopping. Be sure the Web page you are viewing offers encryption of your data. Often you will see a lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of your browser window, or the Web address of the page you are viewing will begin with "https://...". The "s" indicates "secured" and means the Web page uses encryption. Home Federal, for instance, provides 128-bit encryption – the highest level commercially available today.
  • Avoid downloading programs from unknown sources. Downloads from unfamiliar sources may contain hidden programs or viruses that can compromise your computer's security.
  • Shut down your computer when not in use. Dedicated services such as DSL or high-speed cable provide a constant connection between your computer and the Internet. When not in use, shut your computer down to avoid unwanted access to the information on your computer. Even if you have a firewall installed, this is an additional step you can take to help protect yourself.

Act

If you suspect that you're the victim of fraud or identity theft, take action immediately by following the steps outlined below.

Always keep records of all conversations and correspondence.

Email & Online Fraud

Identity Theft

Contact Home Federal and other banks: Report any fraudulent activity on your Home Federal accounts by calling us.

Contact major credit bureaus: The fraud departments of the three main credit bureaus track the accounts opened in your name. You can request that a short or long-term "fraud alert" be placed on your credit file, which requires creditors to verify your identity before opening any new accounts in your name or changing any existing accounts. You only need to contact one bureau to do this — that bureau will notify the others.

Credit bureaus must provide victims of identity theft with a free copy of their credit report. You should request one from each bureau, since the information can differ. Look them over carefully to see if any fraudulent accounts have been opened, and if so, notify the credit bureau and the companies where accounts were opened to report the fraud directly. Once the dispute has been resolved, the credit bureaus that you dealt with will send you another copy of your credit report so you can review it again to make sure that all fraudulent activity has stopped and your file has been corrected.

For more information about the steps to take, and to get your credit reports, contact the credit bureaus listed below.

Contact other creditors: Contact your other creditors including credit card and phone companies, as well as banks and other lenders, to notify them of potential fraud. Always follow up any telephone conversations with a letter. Close any accounts that have been breached and reopen them with new account numbers and passwords. We strongly suggest not using your Social Security number as either a username or password.

File report with local police: Contact your local police department if you suspect that your personal information was stolen. A police report will lend weight to your case when dealing with creditors who may require proof of criminal activity.

Contact other agencies as appropriate:

    • Postal Inspection Service at www.usps.com. If you believe your mail was stolen or redirected, notify the Postal Inspector at your local post office.
    • Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. If you suspect someone is using your Social Security number for fraudulent purposes, call the hotline.
  • Carefully review all your accounts. Since identity theft takes time to completely resolve, you should continue to carefully review all charges and transactions appearing on account statements and online. Any discrepancies should be reported immediately.

Scam Types

Scammers are continuously devising new methods of defrauding the general public. Below are common fraud attempts and alerts to keep you in the know.

Fraudulent Lottery Winnings

One of the ways "fraudsters" try to trick you out of your money is to make it appear as if you won a lottery. In this scam, you are sent a Letter stating you've won a lottery. The letter will go on to say that in order to claim your winnings, you need to send an administrative fee. They may even send you a check to cover this fee. How does the scam work?

The check you received is fraudulent. Unsuspecting people will deposit this check, and subsequently wire funds to the "lottery administration". The check will be returned by the payee bank as fraudulent. This generally happens after the unsuspecting person has wired the funds. At this time, the person that wired the funds is now responsible for the check that has been returned to their account and most likely there is no way to recover the amount of funds wired out to the "lottery administration".

How to protect yourself from these scams:

  • Ask yourself if you entered into any lotteries? If not, it is most likely a scam.
  • Be aware that it is illegal to participate in foreign lotteries. If the letter states you've won a lottery outside the U.S., it is most likely a scam.
  • Bring your letter to us to help you determine if it is fraudulent. We see many of these, so we may be able to spot more areas to help determine if it's fraudulent.

Always remember....if it's too good to be true, it probably is fraudulent.

Phishing

Online fraud occurs when someone poses as a legitimate company to obtain your sensitive personal data and illegally conducts transactions on your existing accounts.

Often called "phishing" or "spoofing," the most current methods of online fraud are fake emails, websites and pop-up windows, or any combination of these.

Always keep in mind that any unsolicited request for Home Federal account information you receive through emails, websites, or pop-up windows should be considered fraudulent and reported to us immediately.

Phishing emails will often:

  • Ask you for personal information. Fake emails often contain an overly generic greeting and may claim that your information has been compromised, that your account has been frozen, or ask you to confirm the authenticity of your transactions.
  • Appear to be from a legitimate source. While some emails are easy to identify as fraudulent, others may appear to be from a legitimate address and trusted online source. However, you should not rely on the name or address in the "From" field, as this is easily altered.
  • Contain fraudulent job offers. Some fake emails appear to be from companies offering jobs. These are often work-at-home accounting positions which are actually schemes that victimize both the job applicant and other customers. Be sure to confirm that the job offer is from a known and trusted company.
  • Contain prizes or gift certificate offers. Some fake emails promise a prize or gift certificate in exchange for completing a survey or answering questions. In order to collect the alleged prize or gift certificate you may be directed to provide your personal information. Just like with job offers, be sure to confirm that prize or gift certificate is being issued from a known and trusted company.
  • Link to counterfeit Web sites. Fake emails may direct you to counterfeit Web sites carefully designed to look real, but which actually collect personal information for illegal use.
  • Link to real Web sites. In addition to links to counterfeit Web sites, some fake emails also include links to legitimate Web sites. The fraudsters do this in an attempt to make a fake email appear real.
  • Contain fraudulent phone numbers. Fake emails often contain telephone numbers that are tied to the fraudsters. Never call a number featured on an email you suspect is fraudulent, and be sure to double-check any numbers you do call.
  • Contain real phone numbers. Some of the telephone numbers listed in fake emails may be legitimate, connecting to actual companies. Just like with links, fraudsters include the real phone numbers in an effort to make the email appear to be legitimate.

How is your email obtained? Email addresses can be obtained from publicly available sources or through randomly generated lists. So if you receive a fake email that appears to be from Home Federal, this does not mean that your email address, name, or any other information has been taken from Home Federal's systems.

Pop-up windows

Pop-up windows are the small windows or ads that appear suddenly over or under the window you are currently viewing. Fraudulent pop-up windows are a type of online fraud often used to obtain personal information. Online fraud occurs when someone poses as a legitimate company—like a popular shopping site, your bank, or your internet service provider—to obtain sensitive personal data and illegally conducts transactions on your existing accounts. Often called "phishing" or "spoofing," the most current types of online fraud include fake pop-up windows, emails and Web sites, or any combination of these.

Trojan horses

These fake emails may also contain a virus known as a "Trojan horse" that can record your keystrokes. The virus may live in an attachment or be accessed via a link in the email.
Don't forget that we do not request personal information via email or send email attachments. Never respond to emails, open attachments, or click on links from suspicious or unknown senders.
If you're not sure if a Home Federal email is legitimate, report it to us without replying to the email.

Counterfeit websites

Online thieves often direct you to fraudulent Web sites via email and pop-up windows and try to collect your personal information. In many cases there is no easy way to determine that you are on a phony Web site because the URL will contain the name of the institution it is spoofing. However, if you type, or cut and paste, the URL into a new Web browser window and it does not take you to a legitimate Web site, or you get an error message, it was probably just a cover for a fake Web site.
Another way to detect a phony Web site is to consider how you arrived there. Generally, you were directed by a link in a fake email requesting your account information. Again, Home Federal will not request personal information from customers via email and any unsolicited request should be considered fraudulent and reported immediately.

How to report fake "e-mails", websites and pop-up windows

If you receive a deceptive e-mail, such as a message phishing for your information forward it to the entity wrongfully being impersonated. For Home Federal "Bank-related" phishing email forward it to info@hfsb.com
If you encounter a fake Web site, or pop-up window, or if you responded to one of these with personal information, call Home Federal immediately.

ATM Skimming

ATM skimming is the theft of card information. It occurs during legitimate transactions from ATMs.

How ATM Skimming Works

To steal your information, thieves install electronic devices called skimmers over the normal card reading slot of ATM machines. These skimmers record the data from the magnetic strip on the back of your card.

A tiny camera is often hidden near a skimmer to record your PIN as it is entered.

The thieves then use all of the information they have gathered to manufacture counterfeit cards, make purchases and withdraw funds from your accounts.

Skimming devices come in many forms and can be hard to detect. The image below illustrates how a skimming device and hidden camera can be installed on an ATM. (Actual devices may vary from this example.)

Where to Look for Signs of ATM Skimming

ATM Skimming

Protect Yourself

  • Use secure ATM machines under video surveillance or inside of a bank lobby. They're less likely to be tampered with.
  • Pay careful attention to what the card reader and keypad normally look like on the ATMs you use most frequently.
  • Don't use an ATM if the card reader appears to be added on, fits poorly, or is loose. Some thieves place a fake box over the card slot that reads and records account and PIN numbers.

Call the customer service number on the ATM immediately if a machine appears suspicious or if it does not function properly.

Mystery Shopping/Job Scam

Fraudulent mystery shopping promoters are using newspaper ads and emails to create the impression that they're a gateway to lucrative mystery shopper jobs with reputable companies. These solicitations usually promote a website where consumers can "register" to become mystery shoppers — after they pay a fee for information about a certification program, a directory of mystery shopping companies, or a guarantee of a mystery shopping job.

The truth is that it is unnecessary to pay money to anyone to get into the mystery shopper business. The shopping certification offered in advertising or unsolicited email is almost always worthless. A list of companies that hire mystery shoppers is available for free; and legitimate mystery shopper jobs are on the Internet for free. Consumers who try to get a refund from promoters of mystery shopping jobs usually are out of luck. Either the business doesn't return the phone calls, or if it does, it's to try another pitch.

In another version of the scam, consumers are "hired" to be mystery shoppers and told that their first assignment is to evaluate a money transfer service, likeWestern Unionor MoneyGram. The shopper receives a check with instructions to deposit it in a personal bank account, withdraw the amount in cash, and wire it to a third party. By law, banks must make the funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. Individuals are responsible for the checks they deposit, so if a check turns out to be a fake, they are responsible for paying the bank back. It's a good idea never to deposit a check from someone you don't know, especially if the stranger asks you to wire money.

Consumers should be skeptical of mystery shopping promoters who:

  • Advertise for mystery shoppers in a newspaper's 'help wanted' section or by email. While it may appear as if these companies are hiring mystery shoppers, it's much more likely that they're pitching unnecessary — and possibly bogus — mystery shopping "services."
  • Require that you pay for "certification."
  • Guarantee a job as a mystery shopper.
  • Charge a fee for access to mystery shopping opportunities.
  • Sell directories of companies that employ mystery shoppers.
  • Ask you to deposit a check and wire some or all of the money to someone.
Ebay/Craigs List Scam

Thinking of selling a car or another valuable item through an online auction? If so, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, wants you to know about check overpayment scams.

According to FTC officials, the scams work like this: Someone responds to your posting or ad, and offers to use a cashier's check, personal check or corporate check to pay for the item you're selling. At the last minute, the so-called buyer (or the buyer's "agent") comes up with a reason for writing the check for more than the purchase price, and asks you to wire back the difference after you deposit the check. You deposit the check and wire the funds back to the "buyers." Later, the check bounces, leaving you liable for the entire amount.

The checks are counterfeit, says the FTC, but good enough to fool the unsuspecting.

In a different version of the scam, the FTC says, consumers get a check that has their "winnings" from a lottery. They're asked to pay taxes or fees. Sometimes, the sender claims to be trapped in a foreign country without any way to cash the check. Either way, federal officials say, if you deposit the check, you'll lose.

Here's how to avoid a check overpayment scam:

  • Know who you're dealing with. In any transaction, independently confirm the buyer's name, street address, and telephone number.
  • Don't accept a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don't send the merchandise.
  • Consider an alternative method of payment. As a seller, you can suggest an escrow service or online payment service. There may be a charge for an escrow service. If the buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service you've never heard of, check it out. Visit its website, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. Call the customer service line. If there isn't one or if you call and can't get answers about the service's reliability, don't use the service. To learn more about escrow services and online payment systems, visit www.onguardonline.gov/topics/online-shopping.aspx.
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that's not possible, call the bank where it was purchased and ask if the check is valid. Get the bank's phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the person who gave you the check.
  • If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don't pressure you to send money byWestern Union or a similar company. In addition, you have little recourse if there's a problem with a wire transaction.
  • Resist any pressure to "act now." If the buyer's offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears the issuing bank.
  • Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it's free or a gift, you shouldn't have to pay for it. Free is free.

Scam Alerts

Smishing Scam Alert

The Rochester Police Department has received several (25+) calls/complaints about a text message saying, "You have just won a $1,000 Wal-Mart gift card."

This is not a text message from Wal-mart. It is a scam to get personal information for Identity Theft.

Many people have filled out the Wal-Mart customer service survey online, after seeing it on the bottom of their receipt. This makes the customer eligible to win a "legit" $1,000 dollar gift card. Officials with Wal-Mart told law enforcement that they will only notify winners thru certified mail. They also will never ask for personal or financial information.

If you receive this text please contact:

  • The States Attorney General's Office (1-800-657-3787 or www.ag.state.mn.us )
  • the MN Fraud & Scam Enforcement at (1-866-347-0911 or e-mail report@mnscams.org)

Data Breach

Important Notice: Home Depot Information Breach

Home Depot has recently had over 60 million of their customer's records compromised. Home Federal has been provided with a list of debit cards that may be at risk and if your name appears on that list, you will be contacted directly by Home Federal. New cards are being provided free of charge by Home Federal.

There have been reports of several scams related to these data breaches. This includes attempts by criminals to impersonate a bank, a retailer, or another organization. Criminals could ask you to provide personal information or account information by telephone, email, or on phony websites. Legitimate organizations, like Home Federal, will never ask you to provide account information. Please be on guard against these scams.

If you have shopped at Home Depot since April 1st of this year, you should review your accounts for fraudulent activity. You can monitor your Home Federal accounts daily through our online banking program “Home eBank” or our mobile app “Touch Banking” for any suspicious or unusual activity.

Home Federal offers our clients multiple layers of security protection against fraud. In most cases, clients are not responsible for any unauthorized purchases made on their Home Federal debit cards. Home Federal absorbs these costs.

If you suspect fraud on your Home Federal accounts call 866-535-1223 during regular business hours or call 800-472-3272 after business hours.

At Home Federal, your financial safety is our concern!

 

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