Safety in the Digital Age: Tips to Protect Against Scams and Identity Theft

Empower yourself against digital risks with practical tips to safeguard yourself and loved ones in today’s interconnected financial landscape.

Senior Vice President

A person holding a credit card is making a telephone call

We can deposit checks using a smartphone, check our retirement account balances in the middle of the night, file our taxes online from the kitchen table, and even pay for groceries with a digital credit card. The internet and smartphones have revolutionized how we manage our financial lives and brought us many conveniences, but they have also brought new risks and challenges.

When so much personal and sensitive data resides online and in the palm of our hands, it’s easy to become a target for scams and frauds, which can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and other serious consequences. It can be overwhelming.

Keeping your information safe is essential. Here are some tips to protect yourself:


Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts, and it’s easy for a fraudulent email to appear legitimate. These emails might have company logos in the body of the email, and a sender address may appear valid at first glance, but often they are not. These emails may tell you something is wrong with your account, such as a payment method that needs updating or another billing issue. Actual companies you do business with might contact you by email, but they usually will not provide a link in the email for you to remedy the situation. To stay safe, always visit the company’s website directly, never by clicking a link in an email.

Consider keeping a clean inbox. While it’s not recommended to send or receive sensitive information in emails, it will happen. Regularly clean out your “sent” email folder and clear your “trash” or deleted email folder.

Phone Calls

Be very skeptical of calls from “your bank” or “the IRS” or anyone claiming to have details on your accounts. Let these calls go to voicemail, and if you find yourself still concerned after listening to the message, call your bank or the institution directly. Do not call the number left on the voicemail or caller ID.

If you answer and speak to someone and you become concerned, NEVER give personal information, EVEN IF the caller seems to have some of your details already. Hang up and call the institution directly at their verified phone number. You can find verified phone numbers on the back of a credit card, on your bank statements, or on a trusted website.

Text Messages

Be wary of unsolicited text messages. If you receive a text message from someone you don’t know, or a text message that seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Popular text message scams include messages alerting you about a failed delivery notification, a bill payment issue, or even announcing you as a contest winner. Never click on any links or reply to these messages, and never provide personal information. Delete the messages and report them as junk. As with emails, companies may contact you via text message, but they will never request personal information.

If you receive unsolicited messages such as advertisements or political campaign messages, you can reply with “STOP” to unsubscribe from that distribution list.

To Err Is Human

Unfortunately, we are all human, and even if we try our hardest to be prudent with these devices, we sometimes will let our guard down and fall victim to these scams.

What should you do if you believe your information is compromised? First and foremost, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. Act immediately if you think your bank account or sensitive information has been stolen.

  • Contact your bank and credit card companies immediately, via a trusted phone number (listed on the back your debit and credit card), to notify them of the suspected fraud and to begin the process of closing your account(s). They can help you review recent transactions and monitor activity.
  • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at or by calling 1-877-438-4338. The FTC will provide you with a recovery plan and help you take the necessary steps to protect your identity.
  • Place an alert or freeze your credit. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) to place an alert on your credit reports. This will help prevent someone else from trying to open up a new account in your name.
  • Change your passwords and PINs. Choose passwords containing challenging phrases with numbers and characters. Do not use PINs that include your address, social security number, or phone number. If you are not doing so already, begin monitoring financial accounts often.
  • If you’d like to take the extra step of securing a Personal Identification Number from the IRS to use when you file your taxes, navigate to the “Get an IP PIN” tool on their official website. You will receive this PIN in the mail and will need it in order to file your taxes.

At TCO, your security is of utmost importance. Among other security measures, we ensure your funds are secure in your TCO account, even if your identity is stolen. Talk with your TCO professional for more information on how we keep your account safe. We are here to help you keep your identity and property protected.

Whittney Stauffer

Senior Vice President

(918) 744-0553