Protect yourself from phishing and other online scams

What is “Phishing”

“Phishing” is a scam that uses email, pop-up messages, fraudulent websites, or spam (junk email) to deceive you into disclosing personal financial information such as credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, bank accounts, passwords, and other sensitive information.

Many of these fraudulent emails contain links directing one to a fake website that may resemble one’s bank website or some other trusted entity.  The fake website is designed to trick a person into entering his or her personal information.  The message may ask the person to “update” or “verify” account information.

Certain attachments and links could infect a personal computer with viruses, worms or Trojan Horses that allow criminals to capture keystrokes or other confidential information.

Customer Guidelines to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Phishing

  • Our bank will never contact you via email to request personal and/or security information.
  • Never enter your social security number or any other personal financial information in response to an email request.
  • Never send personal or financial information via unprotected email.
  • Never give your personal or financial information over the telephone, unless you initiated the call.
  • Review your account statements regularly, online and on paper.
  • Use security solutions on your computer to protect you from Internet threats. Anti-virus software, anti-malware software and a firewall are basic solutions.  If you have a broadband (cable modem, DSL, T-1) Internet connection, it is especially important that you have these security solutions.
  • Use anti-spyware and anti-adware solutions to keep your computer clean.
  • Don’t use easily-guessed or cracked passwords. Use unique combinations of upper- and lower-case letters, and add numbers and symbols.  Change your passwords regularly and don’t use the same password for multiple sites.
  • Never click on links in a suspicious email. Instead, open your browser and enter the web site’s domain name (e.g.,
  • “Patch” your computer operating system (Windows) regularly to close security holes that might be exploited.
  • If you have a wireless Internet connection, change the default admin password, do not broadcast your SSID (Service Set Identifier), enable your WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) key security (change your WEP key frequently) and implement MAC (Media Access Control) address filtering as four fundamental security measures.
  • Always be suspicious of email attachments and web links, even if they appear to be from a trusted source.
  • When making purchases online, always make sure the session is encrypted by looking for the “https” in your browser address bar. This indicates Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption is present.
  • For further protection when making purchases online, sign up for your credit card provider’s service that requires a personal password to complete online purchases. This way your credit card number cannot be used for online purchases without your password being entered.
  • If any websites that you access offer multi-factor authentication at login, utilize this security feature, to prevent anyone, who has access to your login credentials, from logging into your account.

Notify the Credit Reporting Agencies

If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, notify one of the three major credit bureaus, ask them to place a “fraud alert” on your credit report, and send you a copy of your credit file.  The fraud alert will ask creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts.

It is a good practice to review your credit reports periodically, whether you have been scammed or not, to ensure the information being reported is accurate.

Notify the Bank

Banks might maintain a special email address to help their customers in these instances.  The email in question could be forwarded to the special email address.

If customers have responded to such an email and provided information about their account(s), the affected customers could call Guaranty Bank’s main telephone number for assistance – (800) 847-7454.

Notify the Proper Authorities

Forward your suspected phishing email to

If you believe you’ve been scammed, file your complaint at

Call the FTC toll-free at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)

Contact your local police department and file a report.  Get a report number or copy of the report.  Also, be sure to file the proper affidavits.

You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center at Internet Crime Complaint Center(IC3) | Home Page

For more information on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, go to Identity Theft | FTC Consumer Information  or call toll-free 1-877-438-4338.

This site also allows you to report your identity theft to the FTC’s Identity Theft Clearinghouse – a government database of identity theft complaints.

You can mail your information to:

Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20580

This information is shared with consumer reporting agencies, other government agencies and companies where the fraud occurred.

Other Scams:

Other Fraud-Related Resources

The following is a list of links that may provide additional information on common fraud schemes:

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Go to for more information.

Federal Reserve Bank
Go to for more information.

Go to for more information.

Internet Crime Complaint Center
Go to for more information.

Go to http:// for more information.

Consumer Federation of America
Go to for more information.