NH Bankers Association promotes Cyber Security Awareness Month

CONCORD – The New Hampshire Bankers Association announced its participation in National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Bankers across the state will promote cyber security awareness throughout the month of October as part of a nationwide information campaign.

During the month, the NHBA’s 37 member banks will be communicating to customers about the risks of identity theft, Internet fraud, and data breach. Additionally, bankers will promote ways consumers can protect their personal identity, mobile devices, and credit and debit card accounts.

Christiana Thornton, NHBA President and CEO, said, “The unfortunate recent retailer data breaches make this a critical time for the banking industry to educate consumers about cyber security and identity theft. We believe this dialogue is important, and the more we educate the public about the risks and the remedies, the better we are able to help protect them.”

Thornton indicated that the association recently updated its web site (www.nhbankers.com) with a “Consumer Resources” section, which provides a broad array of online resources about fraud protection, credit counseling, and financial literacy.

The NHBA recommends that consumers immediately report any suspected fraud to their bank, and encourages individuals and small businesses to use online banking to more easily monitor financial accounts for fraudulent transactions. Thornton also suggested that consumers monitor their credit reports by ordering a free copy from one of the three credit reporting agencies, and for individuals to inquire with their banks about other methods of protection, including text or email alerts regarding certain types of transactions.

Recently, large-scale data breaches have occurred at national retail chains, affecting tens of millions of Americans. Data breaches have been on the rise, increasing 30 percent between 2012 and 2013, and have targeted health care companies, retailers and the government.

According to Thornton, banks play a key role in preventing fraud from harming consumers. In 2013, banks stopped $13 billion in fraud attempts nationally. When fraud is suspected or occurs, banks will freeze or close an individual’s account, absorb the loss, and reissue any credit or debit cards associated with the account. Typically, this is the end of the matter for the customer.

“The ‘zero liability’ from fraudulent transactions that consumers have come to expect from retailers, for instance, is due to the commitment of banks to provide that relief,” Thornton said.

“But even when consumers are ultimately made whole by their banks, there’s an enormous inconvenience for that person and a lack of confidence created in our financial system and economy. Therefore, it’s important that we also make sure that individuals and small businesses understand the risks and know the steps to take to protect themselves.”

For more information regarding National Cyber Security Awareness Month, or for information regarding consumer protection, please visit www.nhbankers.com.

The New Hampshire Bankers Association is a statewide, not-for-profit trade association representing and serving all of the banking institutions in the state of New Hampshire. The mission of NHBA is to promote the general welfare of the banking industry to the betterment of New Hampshire, its economy, and all its residents.