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For more information on how you can stay protected, please review the sections below.

Email Safety | Computer Health | Preventing ID Theft | Adult Abuse

Email Safety: Spam, Phishing and Spear Phishing


Spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. The term refers to unsolicited, bulk – and often unwanted – email. Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites (clicking on a link) to collect personal and financial information or infect your machine with malware and viruses.

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is highly specialized attacks against a specific target or small group of targets to collect information or gain access to systems.

Items to note

The email they send can look just like it comes from a financial institution, e-commerce site, government agency or any other service or business. It often urges you to act quickly, because your account has been compromised, your order cannot be fulfilled or another matter.
If you are unsure, try to verify it:

  • Contact the company directly using information provided on an account statement or back of a credit card.
  • Search for the company online – but not with information provided in the email.

Here are ways to reduce spam:

  • Enable filters on your email programs.
  • Report spam! Reporting spam will also help to prevent the messages from being directly delivered to your inbox.
  • Consider hiding your email address from online profiles and social networking sites, or only allowing certain people to view your personal information.

How Do You Avoid Being a Victim? Protect Yourself with These Tips:

When it doubt, throw it out:
Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark it as junk.
Think before you act:
Be wary of communications that ask you to act immediately/offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
Make your password a sentence:
A strong password is at least 12 characters long. Focus on a positive sentence that is easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”).
Unique account, unique password:
Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.

What Should You Do if You Think You are a Victim?

Report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. If you believe your financial accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close the account(s). Also consider reporting the attack to your local police department.

Keeping Your Computer Healthy

The Internet is a powerful and useful tool, but in the same way that you shouldn’t drive without buckling your seat belt, you shouldn’t venture online without taking some basic precautions. Most households now run devices linked to the Internet, including computers, laptops, gaming devices, TVs, tablets, and smartphones that access wireless networks. To protect your home network and your family, you need to have the right tools in place and confidence that family members can use the Internet safely and securely.


Viruses are harmful computer programs that can be transmitted in a number of ways, and are designed to spread themselves from one computer to another through the Internet. Most commonly, they are designed to give the criminals who create them some sort of access to the infected computers.


The terms “spyware” and “adware” apply to several different technologies. The two important things to know about them is that:

  • They can download themselves onto your computer without your permission.
  • They can make your computer do things you don’t want it to do. In the worst cases, spyware can track your online movements, steal your passwords and compromise your accounts.


Botnets are networks of computers infected by malware and controlled remotely by criminals. Botnets are designed to harvest personal information. The info is then used for identity theft, credit card fraud, spamming, website attacks, and malware distribution.

Secure Your Wireless Router

Change the name of your router:
The default ID is assigned by the manufacturer. Change your router to a name that is unique to you and won’t be easily guessed by others.
Change the preset password on your router:
When creating a new password, make sure it is long and strong, using a mix of numbers, letters and symbols.
Review security options:
When choosing your router’s level of security, opt for WPA2, if available, or WPA. They are more secure than the WEP option.
Use a firewall:
Firewalls help keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. While anti-virus software scans incoming email and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for attempts to access your system and blocking communications with sources you don’t permit. Your operating system and/or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall, but make sure you turn on these features.

Protect Yourself with These Tips

  1. Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  2. Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
  3. Plug & scan: USB drives and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
  4. Protect your $$: when banking and shopping, check that the site is secure. Look for addresses with “https://” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes measures to secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

How to Prevent Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft involves criminals obtaining your personal information such as social security numbers, credit card or account numbers, even birth certificates and passports for their own use. Accounts are opened in your name for credit cards and loans and the bills are not paid. The delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Because the bills are being sent to another address, it could take months to learn you are a victim of identity theft.

10 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

Together, we can head off identity theft and account fraud before they ever happen. If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your financial identity, come in and visit with one of our friendly customer service representatives.

  1. Do not give out personal information such as PIN number, checking account information and credit card numbers over the phone or internet unless you initiated the transaction. Identity thieves often call posing as a credit card company to obtain knowledge of your accounts.
  2. Do not give your social security number except when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
  3. Beware of suspicious activity. Be especially wary of phone calls asking you to “verify a statement” or “award a prize.”
  4. Be careful with receipts. Do not throw ATM receipts into a public trash container as the receipt may contain confidential information.
  5. Do not throw away financial solicitations such as pre-approved credit cards before you destroy them. Tear up or use a home shredder to discard financial statements, receipts and cancelled checks that you are discarding.
  6. Report lost or stolen checks immediately. Review new deliveries of checks to make sure none are missing. Keep new and cancelled checks in a safe place.
  7. Memorize all passwords and personal identification numbers. The less you have on paper, the less likely it is someone will learn these numbers. Be creative when selecting passwords. Do not use your phone number, birth date, address or the last four digits of your social security number.
  8. Block the view of your ATM transactions with your body to prevent someone from learning your PIN number.
  9. Remove mail promptly from your mailbox. Do not put outgoing mail in your mailbox. Drop it into an official Postal Service collection box. Identity thieves raid mailboxes to steal credit card offers and financial statements.
  10. Review your credit report at least annually. You are entitled to one free copy each year from the three credit bureaus. To obtain your report:
    • Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com
    • Call 1-877-322-8228
    • Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Unlawful Internet Gambling

The Department of the Treasury and The Federal Reserve Board have released a final joint rule to address the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Notice of Prohibition on Unlawful Internet Gambling Federal law, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 and its implementing regulations, prohibit commercial customers from receiving deposits of any kind relating to illegal Internet gambling. This financial institution is required to enforce that prohibition.
By maintaining an account with Partners, you agree to notify us if your account is ever used for Internet gambling of any kind, even if you believe the activity to be legal. If you do not, we may terminate your access to various payment methods or close your account. Compliance for this rule is required by December 1, 2009. Partners will have in place written “policies and procedures.” These policies and procedures are available upon request.

Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

The following material was taken from an official publication of:
Bureau of Elder and Adult Services
Department of Human Services
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011
Christine Gianopoulos, Director

What is Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation?

Abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults happens in Maine. Many people are uncomfortable talking about these problems, especially if the abuser is a family member or friend. Help is available if people are aware of the problem and take steps to report it.
Abuse includes actions which result in bodily harm, pain or mental distress. Examples of abuse are:

  • Pushing, hitting, shaking, pulling hair
  • Tying to a bed or chair, or locking in a room
  • Forcing into sexual activity
  • Giving the wrong medicine or too much medicine on purpose
  • Denying visits with friends or family
  • Name calling, harassment or verbal threats

Neglect is a failure to provide care and services when an adult is unable to care for him or herself. Neglect may be at the hands of someone else or it may be self neglect. Neglect includes failure to provide:

  • Adequate shelter, clothing or food
  • Personal care
  • Medical attention or necessary medication
  • Necessities such as glasses, dentures, hearing aides, walkers, etc.

Exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an adult’s money or property for another person’s profit or advantage. Examples of exploitation include:

  • Forcing an adult to change a will or sign over control of assets
  • Forcing an adult to sell or give away property or possessions
  • Keeping the adult’s pension or social security check

What are Adult Protective Services?

Adult Protective Services is a program within the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services. The Bureau is part of the Department of Human Services. Its purpose is to provide and arrange for services to protect adults who are unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect or exploitation. If the person has mental retardation, services are provided by the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services.
What conditions contribute to abuse, neglect or exploitation?

  • Misunderstanding of an adult’s physical or emotional needs or abilities
  • Stress because of financial, family, marital or health problems
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Lack of training or education
  • Social isolation

What can Adult Protective Services staff do?

  • Investigate reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation
  • Arrange services to help make adults safe
  • Arrange services to allow adults the most personal freedom possible
  • Seek guardianship and/or conservatorship of adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves and who have no family or friend(s) that are able to make these decisions for them.

Who may receive these services?
Any dependent or incapacitated adult who may be in danger of abuse, neglect or exploitation may receive assistance from Adult Protective Services. A dependent adult is a person who is wholly or partially dependent upon other people for care and support, either emotional or physical, and who would be in danger if that care and support were withdrawn. An incapacitated adult is a person who lacks sufficient understanding to make or communicate decisions about his or her own person or property. These adults may need someone else to make some or all of their decisions for them. Clients of Adult Protective Services may include:

  • Frail or vulnerable elders
  • People with mental illness
  • Those with alcohol or drug abuse problems
  • Those with medical problems or disabilities

Guardianship and/or Conservatorship
Guardianship and conservatorship provide protection and care for incapacitated adults. Only a Probate Court can declare an adult to be incapacitated and appoint a guardian or conservator.
The Department of Human Services and the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services can provide information and help with guardianship and conservatorship for an incapacitated adult who may be in danger of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Any able and willing adult may be a guardian or conservator. If there is no private individual able and willing to assume the responsibility, then either the Department of Human Services or the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services may be appointed as public guardian or conservator.

Mandatory Reporting of Adult Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation

Maine law states that certain people must report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult if they believe the adult is incapacitated or dependent. Persons convicted of failing to report may be fined up to $500. If the person is a professional, the court or the Department also will report to that person’s licensing board or accrediting unit.

Individuals who must report

While acting in a professional capacity

  • Ambulance Attendant
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Pharmacist
  • Chiropractor
  • Physical Therapist
  • Clergy
  • Physician (M.D. and D.O.)
  • Dentist
  • Physician’s Assistant
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Podiatrist
  • Emergency Room
  • Personnel
  • Psychologist
  • Humane Agent
  • Registered Nurse
  • Law Enforcement Official
  • Social Worker
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Speech Therapist
  • Medical Examiner
  • Unlicensed Assistive Personnel*
  • Medical Intern
    • *Includes Personal Care Assistant/PCAMental Health Professional

Other Individuals:
Any person who has assumed full, intermittent or occasional responsibility for the care or custody of an incapacitated or dependent adult, whether or not the person receives compensation; or
Any person affiliated with a church or religious institution who serves in an administrative capacity or has otherwise assumed a position of trust or responsibility to the members of that church or religious institution, while acting in that capacity, whether or not the person receives compensation.

What to Report

Give as much information as you can:

  • The adult’s name, address and age
  • Any known physical or mental impairments
  • Nature and extent of the danger to the adult
  • Name of the caretaker, if any
  • Any other information related to the problem

Optional Reporting
Anyone may report suspicion of abuse, neglect or exploitation of a person who is incapacitated or dependent. Making a report is a first step toward providing protection for the adult.
Anyone who makes a report in good faith is protected under the law if someone files a suit in a civil court.
Adult Protective Services maintains confidentiality of reporters except in very limited circumstances.

What Can You Do to Help?

  • Learn the facts about adult abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • Report suspected cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation
  • Invite a speaker to your group or club to discuss the issue
  • Share this information with others

Where to Report to Adult Protective Services

To make a report of abuse, neglect or exploitation of an incapacitated or dependent adult, call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-624-8404. Services are nationwide, 24 hours and toll-free.

  • TTY (during business hours): 1-800-624-8404
  • Statewide TTY (after hours): 1-800-963-9490
  • Out-of-State TTY (after hours): 207-287-3492

To report abuse, neglect or exploitation in a facility licensed by the Department of Human Services, call statewide toll-free at 1-800-383-2441 (TTY 207-287-3492).

Reporting to the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services

To make a report of abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult with mental retardation, call the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services Regional Office at:
Portland Office, Region 1 (York & Cumberland)

  • 207-822-0270
  • 207-828-0272 (TTY)

Augusta Office, Region 2 (Kennebec & Somerset)

  • 207-287-2205
  • 207-287-1798 (TTY)

Lewiston Office (Androscoggin, Franklin & Oxford)

  • 207-753-9100
  • 207-753-9102 (TTY)
  • 1-800-866-1803 (toll-free)

Thomaston Office (Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc & Waldo)

  • 207-596-2300
  • 207-596-2303 (TTY)
  • 1-800-704-8999 (toll-free)

Bangor Office, Region 3 (Hancock, Piscataquis, Penobscot & Washington)

  • 207-942-4360
  • 207-941-4392 (TTY)
  • 1-800-963-9491 (toll-free)

Presque Isle Office (Aroostook)

  • 207-554-2100
  • 207-764-2000 (TTY)
  • 1-800-767-9857 (toll-free)

For reporting after business hours, call the CRISIS NUMBER at 1-888-568-1112

OUCH Monthly Security Awareness Newsletter cover for January 2024 featuring information on QR Codes.

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OUCH Monthly Security Awareness Newsletter cover for February 2024 featuring information on Identity Theft and Protection

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Early detection is one of the most powerful ways you can protect yourself. The sooner you detect your identity is being used by someone else, the sooner you can act. Some of the most common indications of identity theft include:

FebruarySecurity Awareness – Identity Theft: Preventing, Detecting, and Responding