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Black Friday (or Thursday) is upon us, but the deals have already begun

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 7:28 pm

You may be one of the faithful Black Friday shoppers lining up outside malls and department stores across America.

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  • Practice Safe Holiday Shopping

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    The holiday shopping season is in full swing!  Are you ready?  Do you still have lots of shopping to do?  Have you already shopped on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, or all three?  Chances are that many of us still have plenty of shopping left to do before Christmas and that will be inter-mingled with work and family gatherings as well as travel both short and long trips.

    In the middle of all of this activity, it’s very important to keep track of your holiday spending habits especially when shopping online and travelling over the holidays.  Doing so will help protect your money and reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions occurring.

    Following these guidelines can make your holiday shopping and travel more financially secure:

    • Use a low limit credit card for online shopping.  Your liability is $50 on fraudulent charges using your credit card.
    • Know who you’re shopping with.  Be leery of unknown or obscure shopping websites.  Stick with well-known shopping sites from reputable retailers.
    • If it’s too good to be true…it probably is.  Don’t fall for incredibly cheap or free deals commonly seen on Facebook.
    • Look for the padlock and https on your Internet browser window.  Secure online shopping sites should use the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology for securing online transactions.  You should see a padlock icon at the bottom or top of the browser status bars that you are using and https in the address bar.
    • Make sure that computers and smart phones used for online shopping are patched with the most up to date software.
    • Try not to conduct online shopping on public WiFi networks.
    • Use anti-virus / anti-malware software on your PC and smart phones and make sure they are updated.  This can help prevent a virus infection if you happen to end up on a bogus shopping site.
    • Make sure you use online banking to check your shopping activity and don’t wait for a mailed statement to arrive to verify online shopping activity. By the way, have you signed up for MutualBank’s online banking?  Learn how to get started.
    • Use your statements, MutualMobile or MutualBank’s Personal Online Banking to review transactions…are you signed up for eStatements yet?  Get your statements quicker via email!
    • View your cleared checks to make sure they were not altered in any way to change the payees or dollar amounts.
    • If you swipe your card, check the card reader especially on gas pumps, ATMs, and other self-service payment terminals for card skimming devices…see ABC News “Credit Card Skimming Tips To Protect Yourself” for more information.  It is simple…just lightly tug on the card reader to ensure that it’s secure before swiping your card.  A card skimming device will easily pull off as it’s usually taped or lightly glued on top of the existing card reader.  If the reader pulls off do not use the machine and report it immediately to authorities. 
    • Travelling over the holidays and planning on using your MutualBank debit card?  Make sure you Call Before You Travel to ensure uninterrupted debit card use!

    Remember that you are the best defense against online shopping fraud!  If you suspect that you have been scammed please call MutualBank Customer Support at 800-382-8031. Also please report any online fraud to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

    Have a safe and happy holiday season from MutualBank, helping you live a better life!

     

    This post is written by John Mickle, Risk Management and Compliance at MutualBank

  • Email Phishing - Protecting Your Home and Small Business Computers

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Whether you own a small business or use your home computer for financial activities, you need to be aware of Email Phishing which can ultimately lead to identity theft and corruption of your small business and home computers. 

    What is Email Phishing?
    Phishing emails are crafted to appear as if they have been sent from a legitimate organization or known individual. These emails often attempt to entice users to click on a link that will take the user to a fraudulent website that appears legitimate. – United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

    Common forms of Email Phishing
    Phishing emails are becoming very personalized posing as your cable company, utilities, credit cards, mobile phone carrier, banks, and many more entities that you do business with on a regular basis.  The most common threat of Email Phishing right now is malware.  If you click on a link inside of an email that was intended for phishing; your computer can become infected with malware.  The malware will attempt to steal your personal information, usernames and passwords to systems such as online banking.

    Trigger events that can lead to Email Phishing
    Here are some trigger events that fraudsters may try to leverage with Phishing Emails.

    • Natural disasters (Hurricane Sandy, Southern Indiana tornados)
    • Political elections
    • Holidays
    • Economic conditions
    • Tax season

    Here are some steps to take in order to protect you against Phishing.

    • Make sure that email spam/junk filters are turned on and configured properly.  Consult with your email provider or IT specialist for assistance.
    • Do not click on links or open attachments in suspicious looking emails.  Delete them immediately and tag them as spam/junk within your email system.
    • Log into your known sites from your web browser to verify if an email is legitimate as the links in emails can be easily spoofed to go somewhere other than where it looks like it will go.
    • Be leery of unsolicited emails asking for personal information or presenting links to click on in order to update account information, track orders, overdue bills, cancelled ACH/Wire transactions, etc.
    • If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
    • Do not email sensitive information in email unless it is encrypted.  Banks and other businesses should provide secure email systems to communicate regarding account information.
    • Do not store usernames/passwords, account information, SSN numbers, or other personal information in your email systems as if you do become infected with malware it will attempt to scan your email for this information.
    • Make sure that you have anti-malware/virus programs installed on small business and home computers and they are always updated and perform frequent scans.
    • Make sure that you keep other programs such as Java, Adobe programs, Internet browsers, and other online programs updated with the most current patches.

    More information about Email Phishing and Cybersecurity
    Here are some good web sites to obtain more information about email phishing.

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt127.shtm
    http://www.us-cert.gov/nav/report_phishing.html
    http://www.dhs.gov/cybersecurity

    Information about anti-malware programs
    MutualBank does not endorse the products listed below and are provided as examples of free anti-virus/malware detection and removal tools.

    http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/security-essentials
    http://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/free-tools.aspx

    Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concerns for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031or email customersupport@bankwithmutual.com.

  • Small Business - Protect Against Account Takeover

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Do you own a small business? Did you know that small business is one of the top targets for online fraud? According to Symantec's June 2012 Symantec Intelligence Report, 36 percent of all targeted attacks during the first half of 2012 were directed at businesses with 250 or fewer employees and they continue to increase at a minimum rate of 24 percent with an average of 151 targeted attacks being blocked each day during May and June.

    As a business owner you must take steps to protect yourself against online fraud such as corporate account takeover. The American Bankers Association defines corporate account takeover:

    What is Corporate Account Takeover?
    Corporate account takeover is a type of fraud where thieves gain access to a business' finances to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees to payroll, and stealing sensitive customer information that may not be recoverable.

    The American Bankers Association has created a resource for small business owners to access information about account takeover and steps to take to protect yourself and your business. Please go to the American Bankers Association website for more information regarding Corporate Account Takeover.

    Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concerns for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031 or email us at customersupport@bankwithmutual.com.  

  • What Should You Do If Your Email Account is Hacked?

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    We have seen an increased number of customers who have had their email accounts hacked…in other words someone has gained unauthorized access to an email account and may attempt to commit fraud using your email account.

    Signs that your email account might be hacked:

    • You cannot get logged into your email account and/or not able to reset your password.
    • Your friends report to you that they are getting strange or large numbers of email from you.
    • Your inbox is full of message failure notices that you didn’t send.
    • There are messages in your Sent, Draft or Outbox folders that you don’t recognize.
    • Your email signature lines have changed…look for additional links and odd phone numbers listed.
    • Your contact list has been deleted and/or there are contacts you don’t recognize.
    • You’re not getting any email messages at all.

    What to do if you suspect your email account is hacked:

    • Change your password…if you are unable to do so call your email provider immediately…be prepared to supply additional verification to them on who you are.
    • Notify folks in your address book to be on the lookout for spam and phishing type emails from you.
    • Notify your bank immediately that your email account has been compromised so they can be on the lookout for fraudulent account transaction requests…do this even if you don’t bank via the Internet.
    • Consider closing the email account out and establishing a new email address.
    • Consider having a backup email account that you don’t publish to anyone in order to have a means to communicate via email and some providers offer password recovery services to backup primary email accounts.

    Steps to protecting your email account:

    • Frequently (at least every 90 days) change your email account password.
    • Do not store any passwords in email especially passwords to Internet banking.
    • Do not store account numbers or account statements in email folders.  Store them offline on your computer and back them up preferably to a separate disk drive.
    • Review your bank accounts activity online at least weekly looking for suspicious transactions.
    • Empty the trash folder when you close email.
    • Do not click on links inside of an email from an unknown source.
    • Make sure your computers have virus/malware detection/removal software that is updated frequently.
      (Many times your Internet Service Provider provides these tools free of charge.)
    • Remember that if something in an email sounds too good to be true…it probably is.
    • Only share your email with friends on social media sites making sure that it’s not visible to everyone on your public profile.

    Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concern for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031or email customersupport@bankwithmutual.com.

  • I'm a Baby Boomer & Change is Hard.

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    I asked several friends, both FaceBook and non-FaceBookers, if they use electronic banking, bill pay, &/or electronic bank statements.  Many of the FaceBookers do – not surprising.  Some of my other friends don’t, and a few suggested they worry about having identity stolen or a lack of ‘trust’ for the internet. 

    Is the security of hard copy checks, in-store credit or debit purchases, and mail better?  I wonder if my friends use their debit/credit cards in stores, where others have access to them.   The only times I have had anything manipulated or stolen, was in a restaurant where a shady waitress evidently swiped my credit card twice, and had a nice meal.  The credit card company took that charge off when I called them – they were accommodating.   The second time, someone may have looked over my shoulder while I was shopping in Chicago.  The bank evidently electronically noticed that my card number was trying to be used in a fraudulent manner, called me (I had just walked in the door from the Chicago trip), and together we blocked the charge, and the bank closed down that credit card, and reissued me a new number.  That was a really proactive, positive example of my community bank in action. 

    So my ‘bad’ experiences toward fraud or identity theft have been out there in retail establishments, rather than via the internet.  Do I use my credit card electronically for internet purchases?  Just ask my poor husband.  You bet I do - for everything from airline tickets to concert tickets, shoes, purses and crafting supplies.  We use one credit card for online purchases, and I reconcile that bill every month, just before I pay it through my bank’s electronic bill pay feature. 

    One of my best friends from college, Nancy, says she likes her bank statements mailed ‘just in case.’  Just in case of what?  What if your mail is stolen from your mailbox?  What if your mailman is Newman (from the Seinfeld show) and chucks his bag full of mail out a window, along with your bank statement?  Some identity theft comes from ‘dumpster diving’ criminals who access  paper records from the trash as well as stealing mail from mailboxes, looking over shoulders at the ATM or in a retail establishment.

    Nancy told me that she has those “annoying to-be-filed piles” of paper in her home.  She also wrote that one of her children’s schools is ‘paperless’ and she loves it – “I can always find what I need on my Blackberry.”  Her other children’s school is not paperless, and she “constantly has papers coming home and I’m going through their binder to find what I need.”  Nancy’s last sentence sums it up, “Hmmmm.”

    The dilemma Baby Boomers are experiencing is being born on the tail end of a paper-filled society and the infancy of the internet.  Change.  It’s hard.

  • What Does Memorial Day Mean to You?

    Sunday, May 27, 2012

    Memorial Day is one of those holidays that mean different things to different people.  To some it is the time to remember those that have given their lives to serve our country. To others, it’s a time to remember those we love who have passed on.  To most of us, though, Memorial Day weekend is a long weekend and one that indicates the beginning of summer.  Whatever reason you celebrate this holiday, it’s a good time of year to think of your financial health and future plans.

    As you water-ski, you might not be thinking about your 401K or the bank CD in which you have invested.  But half way through the calendar year is a good time to make an appointment with someone that can give you a “check-up” on your money and how it is working for you. 

    Here is a short checklist of things to take with you as you discuss your financial future:

    • Bank Statements- Your financial advisor will need to see your total financial picture to give you advice that is best for you.
    • Other investment statements- Again, a total picture will help your trusted advisor give you the best advice.
    • Detailed plans on your future. Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years? Is your money helping you reach those checkpoints?

    What does that last one mean? Have you ever tried to reach a destination without directions? It’s not easy. Similarly, your financial goals need a compass and the compass is you.   It’s important to think about and discuss your future.  Most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their retirement.  So, if you want to retire in 10 years or in 30, your advisor will need to know that so they can design a plan that works for you. 

    Memorial Day weekend is certainly a fun weekend, but can also be a profitable one if you use it as a milestone towards your financial future!  

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