Living in the peaceful rural areas of southwest Minnesota offers many advantages, including a close-knit community and a slower pace of life. However, even in our tranquil surroundings, it's crucial to stay vigilant against financial fraud. Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and their tactics can deceive even the most cautious individuals. Here are some essential tips to help protect your finances from fraud scams.

What are Email Scams?

Scammers often target email users by sending messages that appear to be from reputable companies. One prevalent scam involves emails that appear to be from Microsoft. These emails typically warn you of unusual activity on your account and claim that many features have been locked for security reasons. They include a link and prompt you to click it to review your account activity.

If you happen to fall for this trick and click the link, you’ll be directed to a fake Microsoft login page. Entering your login information here will not secure your account but instead, provide cybercriminals with your username and password. With these credentials, they can access your account and steal personal information, potentially leading to identity theft or financial loss.

How Can I Avoid Email Scams?

Be Skeptical of Urgent Emails: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to prompt quick action. If an email claims you must act immediately to prevent account closure or security threats, take a moment to verify its legitimacy.

Check the Sender’s Email Address: Legitimate companies have specific email domains. For instance, emails from Microsoft will typically come from an address ending in “” Be wary of addresses that look unusual or don’t match the company’s standard format.

Hover Over Links Before Clicking: Place your mouse over links (without clicking) to see the actual URL. If the link doesn’t match the company’s official website, do not click on it.

Do Not Share Personal Information: Legitimate companies will never ask for your login credentials, Social Security number, or other sensitive information via email.

Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enabling 2FA on your accounts adds an extra layer of security. Even if scammers obtain your password, they would also need access to your secondary authentication method (like your phone) to gain entry.

Find a Bank with Enhanced Online Security: Make sure your bank cares about keeping your information safe. At First Independent Bank, we work hard to make sure your finances and your identity stay safe with Enhanced Online Security that utilizes multiple layers of security to ensure your account and information stay secure.

How Can I Stay Safe from Other Fraud Scams?

Regularly Monitor Your Accounts: Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. Promptly report any suspicious activity to your bank.

Educate Yourself and Your Family: Stay informed about the latest scams and share this knowledge with your family. Awareness is a powerful tool in preventing fraud.

Secure Your Devices: Ensure your computer and mobile devices are protected with up-to-date antivirus software and strong passwords. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for financial transactions.

Shred Sensitive Documents: Shred any documents containing personal information before disposing of them to prevent dumpster divers from obtaining your details.

Learn to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft: Stay educated on how to keep your identity and accounts safe. First Independent Bank is committed to helping you achieve this with our Identity Theft Protection Education Video.

Protecting your finances from fraud requires vigilance and awareness. By following these tips and staying informed about common scams, you can safeguard your hard-earned money and personal information. Remember, if something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. Stay safe and protect your financial well-being.

If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us at First Independent Bank. We're here to help you secure your financial future.