Encrypted E-Mail at Provident (FAQ)


See below for answers to common questions about exchanging securely encrypted e-mail messages with Provident.


How do I read an encrypted e-mail, once I have clicked on the link you e-mailed me to go to the PGP Universal Encryption Web site?


The first time you visit the PGP Universal site you will be asked to create a passphrase. You will not be asked to provide personal information. (If you are asked for personal information or required to download software or if you have any doubt about whether the Web site you go to is legitimate, or might be a phishing site, then do not perform the software download and do not use the site to correspond with us. Instead, contact us by phone or through online banking.)

After you enter a unique passphrase, you can then choose how to read any future encrypted e-mails from Provident. Your choices are either 1) the Web interface or 2) through existing encryption options you might have already set up. Your choices here apply only to "PGP Universal", and not to online banking messages. After you log out from the Web interface you will be asked for your passphrase again. You only need to provide it if you want to log right back in to view your message(s) again through the Web interface. Otherwise, you may just close the window.


Should I always use PGP Universal Encryption to send secure e-mail to Provident?


For most people, most of the time, online banking's "Secure E-Mail" will remain the preferred way of exchanging messages securely with Provident. However, if we send an e-mail to your regular e-mail address and it is encrypted by PGP Universal, the e-mail you receive will include a very simple link to the PGP Universal Web site with further instructions on how to read your encrypted message.


How does Provident encrypt its messages to members?


Provident has two ways of exchanging secure encrypted messages with you:

  1. Provident has long offered its members a "Secure E-Mail" feature in online banking, where you can exchange mail messages with us securely. When you use this feature, any mail you send or receive through the online banking interface will be encrypted (encoded so no one but the sender and recipient can read it). Anyone else trying to intercept it will only see gibberish instead.
  2. Provident also has another way to exchange encrypted e-mail with you, which does not require online banking. This option is called "PGP Universal", which automatically encrypts any regular e-mail sent by Provident to you that might contain sensitive information (such as your member number or PIN).


Why does Provident use encryption when sending messages through the Internet?


Standard e-mail is not a secure way to send private or confidential information. Standard e-mail messages are essentially like postcards, in that they can be intercepted, copied, and read by others while in transit to their destination.


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