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Safe Online Practices for Consumers

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Protect Your Personal Computer From Cyber-Threats

The Internet demonstrates its ability to be an extremely useful tool for many Americans on a daily basis, just like an automobile. But just as you have to maintain an automobile to ensure safe and trouble-free travel, so too do we need to “maintain” our personal computers to protect all of the sensitive information we transmit across the Internet.

Keeping your privacy secure while using the Internet is essential to preventing your personal information from ending up in the wrong hands, especially if you conduct financial transactions online.

The federal government states that, at a minimum, online users should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall protection. Additional protection is highly recommended but should be tailored to fit your online usage. Even better, you may not have to worry about purchasing costly software packages. Many legitimate companies produce free software for personal use (not business use) that will provide ample security for your personal computer.

Pinnacle doesn’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions for managing your finances, and we don’t believe there is one definitive process for ensuring your personal security when using a computer. Whether preventative or reactionary, we suggest the following measures to ensure proper security for your personal computer usage. We recommend that you review the products below and determine which are best suited for you based on your individual situation.*

At a minimum, you should:

  1. Maintain your computer’s Operating System with the latest service packs, patches and security updates. For Microsoft Windows users, schedule Microsoft Automatic Updates, install all High Priority updates and strongly consider adding recommended Custom or Optional updates for your PC.

    1. Microsoft Windows Users
    2. Mac OS/X Users
  2. Run current anti-virus and anti-spyware software often. The following free downloads are available to choose from:

  3. Install a personal firewall. Firewalls block unwanted connections to your PC from external sources, like hackers.

  4. Protect against “keystroke logging.” Some malware has the ability to log keystrokes, including your user names and passwords. Trusteer Rapport can block these types of software on your PC. After installing, be sure to add and (online banking) as trusted websites.

Depending on your level of online activity, you may wish to evaluate your need for more specialized security:

  1. Consider additional protection. Sometimes even anti-virus software cannot identify security threats, and a more specific solution is needed. Consider installing and running a Full Scan with one of the following:

  2. Update purchased or downloaded software often. Many other programs (like Adobe Reader, Flash Player, Quicktime, etc.) require regular updates and can become security threats if not kept up-to-date. Secunia PSI can scan these programs to ensure they are secure:

  3. Cleaning your Internet browser’s temporary files. Clearing this stored information from your Internet browser will lead to a cleaner, faster and more secure system. Some free options are:

  4. Get familiar with governmental protection. The United States government has a wealth of resources available online to assist you with protecting yourself from cyber threats.

* Pinnacle provides these suggestions for your consideration and in no way does Pinnacle guarantee any of these products. Pinnacle is not able to provide personal Information Technology services and is not able to act as a technical consultant. We recommend you conduct your own research and choose measures appropriate to your specific situation.

Tips on Reporting Fraud

Report a Lost or Stolen Debit/Credit Card

If you believe your Pinnacle debit or credit card is lost or stolen, call us immediately.

How to Report Identity Theft

Read this for steps you should take immediately.

How to Obtain Your Free Credit Report

Here's how to get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months.


Protecting your Privacy


Federal law gives consumers the right to limit some of how your personal information is shared. See how Pinnacle protects your personal data.

Stop Email Fraud


Pinnacle developed a list of the Super Six questions you can ask yourself to help determine the legitimacy of any email.

Trusteer Rapport

Trusteer Rapport

An additional layer of protection for your computer that works alongside anti-virus and firewall to safeguard your sensitive information.