Data breaches: What you can do to protect yourself

Lately, it seems as though the reports of data breaches across well-known companies has been one after the other: KMart, JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, Target, Dairy Queen, SuperValue Stores, Bank of West and even the website.  The one common thing among all of these cyber-attacks have been what the
would-be-criminals are looking for: payment card information and personably identifiable information that can be used for identity theft.


Although The Bank of Mauston (or any of its primary partners) has NOT been part of these data breaches,
the organization would still like to keep its customers up-to-date on recent findings and what you can do to help prevent a case of identity theft.


For consumer customers (personal account holders), The Bank of Mauston recommends the following steps:

  • use strong passwords
  • make sure your security software and system software are both up-to-date
  • be suspicious of any emails or phone calls looking for your personal, identifiable information
    if the contact was not initiated by you
  • use only secure websites to provide financial information
  • perform regular back-ups on all devices – this makes it easier to wipe systems clean and start over
    without losing any data, in the event the device was compromised


These all seem like simple, straight-forward practices for consumer customers to follow.  But, as you can probably guess, the recommended steps for business customers are a bit more extensive.  In addition to the tips already mentioned, The Bank of Mauston recommends that business owners and operators put these
practices to work:

  • use only secure channels for ACH & other wire transfer services
  • perform regular security audits and vulnerability tests
  • inventory systems for: servers, workstations, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, hosting providers,
    cloud service providers and network equipment
  • know where your sensitive information is stored and make sure it is not only cyber secure, but physically secure
  • know who has access to what on your system (security levels for employees, vendors, other partners, etc.)
  • review threats to your assets: reported data breaches, past events and points used to exploit information,
    results from security audit
  • have proper safeguards in place
  • use two-factor authentication when possible
  • keep audit logs of activity on network, servers and crucial applications
  • implement security safeguard policies and procedures, and train staff on them
  • have an incident response plan in place


Once you have these items in place and mastered, you have just begun the on-going process.  The key to keeping yourself and your business secure is to review these items on, at least, an annual basis.


Whether you own or operate a business, or have a personal bank account, it is necessary that you are your first line of defense against cyber criminals.  Following the steps outlined above will help you do that.  If you feel that your, or your businesses’, financial accounts have been compromised, visit our Identity Theft page and click on the tab to the left that says ‘Checklist for Victims of Identity Theft’ for an outline of steps you should take.


For more information on services offered at The Bank of Mauston, call 608-847-6200.

Identity theft is defined as an imposter gaining access to another’s personal information as a result of a stolen wallet, stolen mail, information taken from your garbage or a data breach.

In true identity theft, an identity thief uses another person’s Social Security number and other identifying information to fraudulently open new accounts for financial gain.  Victims may be unaware of the fraud for an extended period of time, which allows the criminal to continue the hoax for months or even years.

When the criminal has control of the victim’s identity, he or she can use that identity to:

  • Obtain credit fraudulently from banks and retailers
  • Steal money from the victim’s existing accounts
  • Apply for loans
  • Establish accounts with utility companies
  • Rent an apartment or home
  • Obtain a job
  • Receive medical care
  • Create a criminal record
  • Achieve other financial gain
  • MORE!

In addition to account takeovers, there are several other ways in which identity thieves obtain your personal information to commit identity theft and fraud.  Some of those techniques include:

  • Pharming – this method uses computer software to collect personal information from your computer and
    deliver it back to fraudsters.  Usually how this happens is a consumer is attempting to log onto a
    legitimate web site and is unknowingly redirected by the fraudulent software to an authentic-looking
    but bogus site.  When the consumer enters his or her personal log-in information, the criminals capture this sensitive information and may use it for a variety of violations, including accessing accounts and making
    online purchases.  Since, little or no participation is necessary on the consumer’s part, and the redirect happens behind-the-scenes, pharming is extremely difficult to detect.
  • ATM tampering – thieves tamper with ATMs in various ways in order to steal
    your personal information and tap into your accounts
  • Dumpster diving in trash bins for documents containing personal information
  • Stealing mail from unlocked mailboxes
  • Impersonating a loan officer, employer or landlord to obtain access to credit files
  • Shoulder surfing when people are using laptops in public places
    or watching ATM transactions and public phones
  • Tapping online sources of personal data, such as public records,
    fee-based information sites and personal networking sites
  • Hacking into an organization’s database to steal sensitive information
  • Purchasing fraudulent identities on the internet or through a secondary market
  • Stealing wallets or purses
  • Infiltration of organizations that store large amounts of personal information
  • Changing your address thereby diverting billing statements to another location to either
    get current legitimate account information or to delay discovery of fraudulent accounts
  • MORE!

To help protect yourself against identity theft, The Bank of Mauston recommends
you begin practicing the following items:

  • Passwords:  Make them unique and hard for criminals to guess (ie, do not use your street address).
    Do not share passwords with other people and do not write passwords or personal identification numbers (PIN) down.
  • Anti-Virus:  Keep your computer’s anti-virus software up-to-date – new viruses are being created every day.
  • Anti-Spyware:  Software to detect and remove spyware is readily available and should be on all computers.
  • Don’t get phished:  Don’t answer any suspicious emails.
  • Destroy credit card solicitations before throwing them away
  • Prepare a list of your credit card numbers and company contact information*
  • Shred bank statements and other sensitive financial information before discarding
  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately*
  • Review account statements and verify all transactions
  • Review your credit report on an annual basis*
  • Protect your purse or wallet

*By having Secure Checking at The Bank of Mauston, you are already being proactively assisted with these items (pending full registration and activation of Secure Checking services) at no additional cost to you!  Two of the many features of Secure Checking include debit/credit card registration services (you register all of your credit and debit cards on the Secure Checking website and in the event that your purse or wallet is lost or stolen, or you believe your card has been compromised, you just call one number and your credit and debit cards will all be closed down and new cards will be issued) and active credit file monitoring and reporting (anytime a change is reported to any one of the three credit bureaus, you will receive a notification; you also receive a quarterly, one-bureau credit report at
no additional cost to you).  For more details on Secure Checking, click here.

If you become a victim of identity theft you should do the following:

  • File a police report
  • Contact your bank*
  • Cancel your credit cards*
  • Notify credit bureau fraud units (telephone numbers can be found on the tab
    labeled ‘How to Obtain a FREE Credit Report’)*
  • Place a fraud alert statement on your credit report*
  • Request the credit bureaus identify accounts closed due to fraud as “closed by consumer’s request”*
  • Request a free credit report at*
  • Check post office for unauthorized change of address requests*
  • Follow-up telephone contacts with letters and keep copies of all correspondence*

*In addition, if you have Secure Checking with The Bank of Mauston, one of the benefits you receive for no additional cost is access to the recovery and restoration specialists at EconoCheck.  Your assigned specialist at EconoCheck will work with you to restore your identity and assist you with all of the items starred above.  Another great benefit of Secure Checking at The Bank of Mauston is EconoCheck’s identity fraud expense reimbursement – up to $10,000 per incident – again at no additional cost to you.  All of these features are designed to give you peace of mind should your identity be compromised.

All you have to do is contact a customer service representative at any one of The Bank of Mauston’s
six convenient locations and we will get the process started for you.

For more information about Secure Checking, click here.

If you have Secure Checking with The Bank of Mauston, and you complete the no-fee registration, you will receive a quarterly one-bureau credit report to keep you up-to-date on your credit score.  However, if there is any activity that hits your credit report, such as taking out a new loan, you will receive a notification automatically.  This can alert you to possible fraud when it begins, making it easier to close it down.  In addition, if you report to EconoCheck (Secure Checking’s parent company) that there are fraudulent items on your credit report, they will take over the process of working to get those items removed from your credit report and placing the proper alerts on your credit report with the three credit bureaus.  All of the these great benefits – and more – at no additional cost to you for being a Secure Checking member at The Bank of Mauston!

For more information on Secure Checking, click here.

If you don’t have Secure Checking, you may obtain a credit report from one, two or all three of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies; however, consumers only need to submit one request.

Requests may be submitted either:

  • Online at
  • By calling 1-877-322-8228
  • Or by submitting a standard request form by mail to:
    Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281


In addition to one free credit report every twelve months,
consumers are entitled to an additional free credit report if they are:

  • Denied credit, insurance or employment based on credit
  • Unemployed and planning to look for work
  • Welfare recipients
  • Receiving inaccurate credit reports due to fraud, including identity theft


If a consumer wants a credit report more frequently than every twelve months
and does not meet any of these criteria, there is a charge per copy.

However, The Bank of Mauston suggests that instead of getting a report from all three credit reporting agencies at once, get one from each bureau every four months (this will provide you with a different snapshot three times per year).

Consumers should be sure to review their credit reports carefully.  They should take note of any negative remarks that indicate late payments.  If a consumer has been a victim of identity theft, the late payments may be on accounts opened fraudulently.  Consumers should be sure they recognize all reported accounts on their credit report.

If a credit report reveals incorrect information or unfamiliar accounts, consumers should call immediately and request that a fraud alert be placed on their credit reports.  Toll-free numbers and websites for each of the consumer reporting agencies are listed below.  Once a fraud alert is in place, creditors should contact the consumer directly before opening any new accounts.  Consumers should also contact the creditors for any accounts that list incorrect information or that have been opened fraudulently and request that those accounts be closed.

Consumer reporting agency contact information; 800-680-7289; or 800-916-8800; 800-525-6285; or 800-685-1111

Trans; or 888-397-3742

Secure and Secure Gold Checking are the flagship membership accounts at The Bank of Mauston.

With a Secure or Secure Gold Checking account, you receive great financial benefits such as:

  • NO  ANNUAL  FEE debit card
  • Local merchant discounts
  • NO  FEE  personal money orders
  • Interest paid from day one regardless of balance
  • Internet banking
  • Online BillPay
  • Mobile banking

All of these financial benefits can be yours for just a $6 monthly membership fee.  If you or your joint account holder is age 62 or better, the monthly membership fee is just $4 for a Secure Gold Checking account.
You can also save $1 per month on the membership fee if you take eStatements on either of these accounts.

Plus, if you have Secure Checking from The Bank of Mauston, you also receive these benefits at
no additional cost:

  • Comprehensive identity theft resolution services
  • Identity fraud expense reimbursement*
  • 3-in-1 credit file monitoring and reporting (registration and activation required)
  • Cellular telephone protection*
  • Travel and entertainment discounts
  • $10,000 accidental death insurance*

Registration and activation required for non-financial benefits: Some of the benefits require a
no-fee registration and activation.  It’s simple – visit or call
1-866-210-0361 to register for all your benefits of Secure Checking!

*Identity theft insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc.  The description here is for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described.  Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions and exclusions of coverage.
Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

*Special insurance program notes: The descriptions herein are summaries only.  They do not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described.  Please refer to the actual policies for complete details of coverage and exclusions.  Insurance is offered through the company named on the certificate of insurance.    

Insurance products are not a deposit; not insured by the FDIC or any federal government agency; and is not guaranteed by The Bank of Mauston or any affiliates.

To get started with Secure Checking from The Bank of Mauston, all you have to do is contact a customer service representative at any one of the bank’s six convenient locations.

Recent studies indicate that the number of reported incidents of unauthorized access to checking accounts,
or account hijacking, is the fastest growing form of identity theft.  This occurs primarily through phising.

Phishing is a scheme used by fraudsters – posing as a trusted financial institution, ATM/debit network,
credit card company, online retailer or other service provider – to trick unsuspecting individuals
into disclosing personal and/or financial information.  Typically, a person will receive an unsolicited email
or phone call appearing to be from an organization your readily recognize asking you to verify personal
and/or financial information.

While this typically impacts consumers at an individual level, businesses are fast coming under attack
from cyber hackers with a form of account hijacking known as Corporate Account Takeover (CATO).

To help protect your business from a case of CATO, The Bank of Mauston recommends business
owners and operators follow these steps:

  • Conduct a periodic assessment of your internal controls
  • Use layered security for system administrators
  • Initiate enhanced controls for high-dollar transactions
  • Increase levels of security as transaction risks increase
  • Have multi-factor authentication

If you notice any suspicious activity within your account or experience security-related events, you should contact a customer service representative at any one of The Bank of Mauston’s six convenient locations immediately.

Please remember that The Bank of Mauston will NEVER call you and ask you to provide us with personal information.
If someone calls you and claims to be from The Bank of Mauston and asks you for personal information, do not give out any information,
end the call and contact a customer service representative at any one of our six convenient locations immediately.