Some tips for using financial institutions’ social networking sites.

Many people connect with friends, meet new people and interact with businesses on “social media” sites such as Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Banks are also using social media to advertise their products and services, obtain feedback from consumers, and educate them on their finances. Financial institutions also often use social media to share information with their local communities and to learn from and engage with them.


illustration of people holding up social media iconsShould you connect with your bank through social media? And, if you do, what should you keep in mind? Before you decide, you should visit your bank or its website to learn about its social media channels. You can learn how the bank is using social media and other ways to communicate and conduct your banking business.

Advertising Products and Services

“There can be benefits to using social media to interact with banks,” said Elizabeth Khalil, a Senior Policy Analyst in the FDIC’s Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection. “You might find out about new bank products or services more quickly or be eligible to obtain special offers. You might also obtain faster responses to your questions or complaints.”
Federal regulators, including the FDIC, have issued guidance reminding banks that the laws that apply to institutions’ activities in general continue to apply when they use social media. For example, when a bank uses Facebook to advertise loans, the bank must provide accurate disclosures just as it would in a newspaper advertisement.

Communicating With Your Bank

If you want to communicate with your bank on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, keep in mind that your posts could become public, even though you can protect your tweets and Facebook posts to some extent through your account settings. You should not include any personal, confidential or account information in your posts. “Also, reputable social media sites will not ask you for your Social Security, credit card or debit card numbers, or your bank account passwords,” said FDIC Counsel Richard Schwartz.

Before posting information such as photos, comments and links, you should look for a link that says “privacy” or “policies” to find out what can be shared by the bank or the social media site with other parties, including companies that want to send you marketing e-mails. Read what the policies say about whether, and how, personal information will be kept secure. Also find out what options you may have to limit the sharing of your information.

“Look carefully to see whose site you are on and which policies apply,” Khalil said. “You might have started out on the bank’s page but clicked on a link that took you to another company’s page, where that company’s policies will apply.”

It is also best to avoid posting personal information that a fraudster could use to impersonate you. Information that may seem innocent to share could be helpful to an identity thief. “Be cautious, even with details such as the name of your pet or a school you attended,” advised Schwartz. “That type of information is often requested by banks for their security ‘challenge questions’ that are used to control access to accounts. A fraudster could use that information to log in to your account.”

Khalil said that some social media sites require or encourage people to provide their birthdate. “You should evaluate how comfortable you are providing this and similar information and who, if anyone, would be able to see it,” she suggested. Also, she added, “Social media is inherently conversational and somewhat informal. That can lull people into a false sense of security, making them less careful with their personal information than they otherwise might be.”

Main Street Bank and Social Media

In addition to our website, we use social media platforms to update you with the latest news about the bank and educate you about tools, solutions, and services that are available that can help with your financial success. You can consider it an extra free and fun resource for your banking needs. We will never ask you to provide your personal and private information through social media, such as your account number or contact information, and you should NEVER share this type of information on social media or within email messages.

We encourage you to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram so you can stay up to date and informed.