Consumer Awareness Tips

Bank Of Western Oklahoma Consumer Awareness Tips

The Bank of Western Oklahoma will NEVER ask for sensitive information such as account numbers, access IDs, or passwords via e-mail or automated phone calls.

Tips for safeguarding your information (from the American Bankers Association.)

  • Don’t give your Social Security number or other personal credit information about yourself to anyone who calls you.
  • Tear up receipts, bank statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Keep an eye out for any missing mail.
  • Don't mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
  • Review your monthly accounts regularly for any unauthorized charges.
  • Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
  • Do business with companies that you know and trust, especially online.
  • Don't open e-mails from unknown sources, and use virus detection software.
  • Protect your PINs (don’t carry them in your wallet!) and passwords; use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank and the fraud units of the three credit reporting agencies immediately.

Check Your Credit Report!

  • Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies every year. Make sure it is accurate and includes only those activities you have authorized. By checking your report on a regular basis you can catch mistakes and fraud before they wreak havoc on your personal finances. Don't underestimate the importance of this step.  You can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus through

The three credit bureaus:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

Identity Theft

  • What is identity theft?
    Identity theft occurs when someone acquires your personal information and uses it without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. It is a serious crime, and cases are growing. An all-too-common example is when an identity thief uses your personal information to open a credit card account in your name. No matter how cautious you are, there is no way to completely prevent identity theft from occurring, however, there are ways you can help minimize your risk. This page contains valuable information on how you can protect yourself by managing your personal information wisely, the warning signs of identity theft, and what to do if you do become a victim.
  • Helpful Tips
  • To verify whether a call is legitimate, call Bank of Western Oklahoma or visit the website, using phone numbers or internet addresses from your bank statement or account documentation. Do not call back a number provided over the phone or click on a link in an email.
  • Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know whom you're dealing with.
  • Don't carry your Social Security card with you; leave it in a secure place. Carry only the identification and credit and debit cards that you need.
  • Don't put your address, phone number, or driver’s license number on credit card sales receipts.
  • Social Security numbers should not be put on your checks.
  • Shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail.
  • Secure your credit card, bank, and phone accounts with passwords. Avoid using easily available information like birth date, the last four digits of your SSN, or your phone number. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Use a password instead.
  • Secure personal information in your home, particularly if you have roommates or hire outside help.
  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold.
  • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that records are kept in a secure location. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well.
  • Before revealing any personally identifying information (for example, on an application), find out how it will be used and secured, and whether it will be shared with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information. Can you choose to have it kept confidential? 


  • If you become a victim of identity theft, contact:
    1. The fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus
    2. The creditors of any accounts that have been misused
    3. The local police to file a report
    4. Your local bank to cancel existing accounts held in your name and reopen new accounts

ATM/Visa Debit/Check Card Tips

  • Safeguard your ATM access cards and PIN as you would checks and cash. Memorize your PIN – Don’t write it on your card or in your checkbook.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM, especially at night. Consider having someone accompany you to the ATM when you make transactions after dark.
  • Consider using another machine or coming back later if you notice anything suspicious or feel uneasy.
  • When using an ATM, stand squarely in front of the machine to keep your transaction as private as possible. Shield your PIN entry with your hand for greater privacy. When waiting to use an ATM, please respect the privacy of those using the machine.
  • Consider canceling your transactions, pocketing your card and leaving if you notice anything suspicious while using an ATM.
  • Protect the sensitive magnetic stripe on the back of your card. Keep it from direct sunlight. Avoid leaving your card on or near electrical appliances, such as a TV or stereo. Do not carry your card next to another card’s stripe as they may demagnetize each other.
  • Report all crimes related to ATM activity to the owner/operator of the machine and to local law enforcement officials immediately.
  • Always take your receipt with you at the conclusion of every transaction to assure your financial privacy. Keep your receipts and use them to check your monthly statement.
  • Take care of your ATM Debit Card. Know where it is at all times; if you lose it, report it as soon as possible.
  • Choose a PIN for your ATM or debit card that is different from your address, telephone number, Social Security number, or birth date.
  • Keep and compare your receipts for all types of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) transactions with your periodic statement.
  • Make sure you know and trust a merchant before you share any bank account information.

Online Banking Tips

  • Avoid using personal information in your password such as birth dates, or names of family members and pets.
  • Do not use the same password that you use for other sites.
  • Do not use the password auto-save feature on your browser.
  • Do not write your password down.
  • Do not share your password.
  • Change your password periodically.
  • Remain at your computer until your Online Banking transactions are completed and you are logged out. Log out of Online Banking prior to visiting other internet sites.
  • Ensure that no one is watching when entering your log-in ID and Password.
  • Review your account information often.  Report any unusual activity immediately.

Bank of Western Oklahoma Phone and e-mail Policy  

  • Bank of Western Oklahoma wants you to be protected.  This includes educating all our customers to be cautious and mindful of cyber crimes and other forms of fraud. We want all of our customers to know that it is not our policy to call you on the telephone to verify any customer personal banking information (as we already have this information on file).
  • Any e-mails Bank of Western Oklahoma sends to our customers will always be “information only” and will not ask you to verify or input any banking information. Beware of any e-mail asking you to input or verify any banking or personal information (known as “phishing” described in detail below) as these e-mail(s) were not sent by Bank of Western Oklahoma.


  • Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security Number, passwords, or other sensitive information.
  • According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you deal with – for example, your Internet service provider (ISP), your bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message usually says that you need to “update” or “validate” your account information. It might threaten some dire consequences if you don’t respond. The message directs you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization’s site, but it isn’t. The purpose of the bogus site? To trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal you identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company’s correct Web address. In any case, don’t cut and paste the link in the message.
  • Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization’s website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
  • A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It’s especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Finally, your operating system (like Windows or Linux) may offer free software “patches” to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Report suspicious activity to the FTC. If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to If you believe you’ve been scammed, file your complaint at, and then visit the FTC’s Identity Theft Web site at to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft. Visit to learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam.


In a new twist, identity thieves are sending spam that warns victims that their bank account or PayPal accounts were supposedly compromised. However, unlike typical phishing emails, there is no website address in these phishing messages. Instead, the victim is urged to call a phone number to verify account details.

The automated voice message says: "Welcome to account verification. Please type your 16-digit card number."  The goal is to get the victim to enter their credit card number. In these reported scams, no mention of the bank or PayPal is made.

Security experts tracking this scam and other instances of "vishing", short for "voice phishing", say the frauds are particularly despicable because they imitate the legitimate ways people interact with financial institutions.  In fact, some vishing attacks don't begin with an e-mail. Some come as calls out of the blue, in which the caller already knows the recipient's credit card number. This increases the perception of legitimacy, the caller asks for the valuable three-digit security code on the back of the card.

Vishing appears to be prospering with the help of Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, the technology that enables cheap and anonymous Internet calling, as well as the ease with which caller ID boxes can be tricked into displaying erroneous information.


"Smishing" is derived from the familiar "phishing." The "sm" comes from SMS, the protocol used to transmit text messages via cellular devices.

You don't have to use a computer to be vulnerable to online scammers. Increasingly, cell phone and other mobile device users are being targeted with mobile spam that attempts to trick them into revealing persona information.

Known as "smishing," these text messages might ask a recipient to register for an online service - then try to sneak a virus onto the users' device. In addition to virus-like "worms," which can spread through and disrupt a network, other scams are surfacing.

Some messages warn that the consumer will be charged unless he cancels his supposed order by going to a website that then extracts such credit card numbers and other private data.


Be aware of Fraudulent Email

  • Never call a number you receive from a spam email, and certainly don't enter in any private information if you make a mistake and do call. If you want to call your bank, use the normal phone number you regularly use, not the phone number you get in an e-mail.
  • Arrowhead e-mail messages will not directly link you to an online application.
  • Never click on the link provided in an e-mail you believe is fraudulent.
  • Do not open an attachment to an unsolicited e-mail unless you have verified the source.
  • Do not be intimidated by an e-mail or caller who suggest dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify information.
  • If you believe the contact is legitimate, go to the company’s website by typing in the site address directly or using a page you have previously book marked, instead of a link provided in the e-mail.

Investment Fraud

  • Fraudulent investment schemes are often marketed by telephone salespersons armed with high pressure and sophisticated selling techniques. Some swindlers surround themselves with the trappings of legitimacy like rented office space, a receptionist, investment counselors, and professionally designed color brochures describing the investment.
  • Seniors are a prime target for fraudulent investment schemes since many have saved a good amount of money for their retirement years. Fraudulent schemes require you to invest your money and often lots of it. Most promise you either a large increase in the value of your investment or higher-than-market interest on your capital, or both.
  • These schemes are fraught with danger and in most cases, you will never again see the funds you invested.

Beware of Schemes that Sound too Good to Be True

You’ve just won the Zimbabwe National Lottery! Even though you’ve never been there and Zimbabwe doesn’t actually have a national lottery. If you get an e-mail or a letter with a legitimate looking check, be careful. You may end up owing your bank a lot of money. Check scams have been around for a long time, but aren’t always as obvious as you may think.

Online Banking Access