BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge area community bank has taken extra steps to help protect its clients from becoming victims of cyber crimes.
Last year a reported 387 million people were victims of cyber crimes, according to the Norton Cybercrime Report.
Last week the addresses and personal information of millions of JP Morgan Chase customers were compromised during a security breach.
Computers, cell phones, and Wi-Fi hot spots can be accesses in most public places. There are many avenues in the digital world to bank accounts, email, and social media networks. But the convenience comes with some hidden dangers.
East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Department Sergeant Brian Blache spends hours each day tracking hackers who are working around the clock to get their hands on your personal information. Finding them, he said, can be tricky.
"They don't do this from their home computers. They hijack other people's computers on other networks," Sgt. Blache said.
Blache said any piece of information people put online, whether it be your mother's maiden name, street name, or where you work, opens doors to criminals.
"It's kind of like putting a puzzle together. That one piece of information might not be important alone but as they hone in on who it is they are targeting they can gather bits and pieces of more information," Sgt. Blache explained.
The end result can be devastating.
The Chief Administrative Officer for American Gateway Bank, Ricky Sparks, said the local bank is doing more to help its customers.
"The real challenge for community banks is to be able to keep up with technology," Sparks said.
In light of Cyber Security Awareness month, American Gateway has added links to its website with information for its customers on how to protect their personal information.
Sparks suggests all online bankers invest in virus protection software, set strong passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, and avoid using public Wi-Fi to access account balances.
Recovering from identity theft, Sparks warned, can cost time and money.
"It can be thousands of dollars and it can also be very, very frustrating," Sparks said.
While some insurance agencies can help re-establish a person's name and rebuild credit, Sparks said, the money that was swiped from their account is usually gone forever.