How To Protect Your Electronic Information

  • When performing Internet transactions that involve the use of personal information, first read the site's privacy statements. If no privacy statements are readily available, don't provide any personal information to the site.

  • When making Internet purchases make sure the site is using a secure server to encrypt the transaction and that you are using a secure browser. On a Windows PC, a secure server will be shown by a small lock icon in the bottom of your browser window. The URL of a secure page should begin with "https" instead of "http."

  • Never send your password, credit card number, secret word or PIN in an e-mail. And never send an e-mail reply to an e-mail solicitation for personal information. No reputable business will ask you to send confidential information over the Internet via e-mail.

  • Use caution when you receive an e-mail that directs you to a Web page asking for personal information. It may look like it's legitimate, but the Web site may be designed to steal your personal information. Also, the link may show one Web address but direct you to another. Always type the Web address directly into the address bar rather than clicking a link.

  • When on the Internet, if you get an e-mail or a pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Beware of disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords or other sensitive information. These pop-up messages or other unsolicited e-mails may be an attempt to capture your personal data. In turn, this information may be used to commit fraud, including identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission offers several precautions you can take to prevent this high-tech scam known as “phishing” at

    For additional advice on how to protect yourself from "phishing," visit the Web site for The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency - U.S. Department of the Treasury, or download this brochure: (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

  • Contact Southern Bank and/or your credit card company immediately if you think you have submitted sensitive information in response to a fraudulent e-mail or Web site.

  • When upgrading your personal computer for a new one, be cautious as to what happens to the old systems. Have your hard drive erased completely, even if you are throwing it away or donating it to charity. Use free or purchased software to clean the hard drive so no one can retrieve previous information. Just deleting a file or running the "fdisk" command is not good enough.

  • When using a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), password protect access to the device. Keep as little confidential information on your PDA as possible. In the event it is lost or stolen, you will not be at risk of the information getting into the wrong hands.

  • Make sure your computer is password protected, especially a laptop. In many cases the theft of a laptop is not just for the physical device but also for the confidential data inside.

  • Think twice before entering confidential information (such as making Internet purchases or storing a resume) on a public personal computer at a public library or copy center. Even after you have deleted a file or shut down the browser application, someone could still follow behind you and gain access to the information on the PC's hard drive.