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Many of us are constantly connected to the online world these days. This means that the potential is there for our computers and personal information to be compromised which greatly increases the risk of ID theft and financial fraud to occur. However, by taking some basic precautions you can significantly reduce the risk of your computing environment being compromised. Following these simple guidelines should help your computing environment become more secure:
Keep your computers and network equipment secured with the latest software updates and enable automatic updates whenever possible. This includes updates to third party applications such as Java and Adobe Products.
In the event your machine is lost or stolen, drive encryption can prevent others from accessing the data on your hard drive. The purpose is to encrypt or scramble your data on your machine so that it can only be read with your encryption key.Many operating systems offer drive encryption. Microsoft offers Bitlocker and Apple has FileVault. There are also other third party encryption offerings.
Think of the firewall to your computer as the fence around your property. If there were multiple holes cut in the fence, it wouldn’t be very useful at keeping people out. Firewalls are typically enabled by default on Windows machines, but double check to make sure it’s on. Here are instructions to do so if you are using Windows 7. Only allow necessary applications inbound access through your firewall. The same principles apply to your network firewall.
Set an auto-locking screensaver so your account gets locked out after a few minutes. This is useful if you forget to lock your machine when are away from it. On Windows machines this can usually be done by pressing the “Windows Key” and the “L” button simultaneously.
The longer and more complex the password, the better. At least 16 characters with a combination of upper and lowecase letters, numbers, and special characters is a best practice.
Use the strongest wireless security available (currently WPA2-CCMP) with a long and complex password for your wireless network. Disable WPS on your wireless router for greater security.
Think that some secure banking information
of yours has been compromised?
If you suspect that your personal financial information has been compromised, call MutualBank Customer Support at 800-382-8031.
Well, yes, technically, it IS a four letter word. But I think you know what I mean.
In today’s world, people cringe at the word “budget”. It is synonymous with “belt-tightening”, “frugalness” etc. All words that make the American consumer love for spending groan. Insert eye-roll here.
A high percentage of the American people live paycheck to paycheck. Some don’t know what most of their money is spent on.
With a little planning and budgeting, looking ahead and making solid changes can be pretty simple to do. Here are a few tips to help in this process.
The key to this is making it work for you. Not all budgeting programs work for everyone. Make sure you give yourself some grace. Changes to lifestyle don’t happen overnight. Allow yourself some “free” money. Get your kids involved. Make it a game. There are lots of things to do with this so you can get a better handle on your finances.
Remember, planning may not be something that comes naturally to all, but it can be learned.
This blog is brought to you by Debra Jones-Price, Financial Center Manager at MutualBank's Bethel Financial Center in Muncie, Indiana.
I was “hanging out” with some lady friends a few weeks back. And the discussion came up about banking and using online banking. Of course, I had to weigh in on this discussion.
One lady expressed that she was upset that Social Security was about to require electronic deposits for Social Security funds. She was upset by this change, and further, she noted would never trust using the internet for banking.
Change is hard! I expect that when Henry Ford introduced a motorized vehicle, that many expected that invention would never take hold. Look at us now! At the time, I expect it took a little while for that horseless carriage idea to catch on.
In the early 1940s, women worked primarily in the home and were the primary child bearers and caretakers. With the advent of WWII, a much greater need came about for women to leave the homes and go to work in all sorts of industries supporting families and the war effort for the United States. And I would venture a guess that the multitude of ways women make a difference in & outside the home since that time have multiplied exponentially – think Melissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! Yet, it was likely difficult for some of those women of the 1940s to leave the home and learn a trade, go in to an office to work, and contribute in a different way.
I grew up in a simpler time as well. In the 60s, there were no cell phones, no computers, and no computer games. I remember a time when we didn’t even have a television in our home – we couldn’t afford one. We had to actually talk to one another, go outside to play in the neighborhood, use our fingers to dial a telephone, and once we got a TV, we had to get out of our chair to change a television channel. My daughter today has no concept of this. Change is hard.
I was an Office Manager in the 90s when the fax machine was ‘born.’ Now I think of the fax as antiquated technology. Likely, many of us balked at moving from receiving our wages in cash, to receiving a hand-written paycheck. Then we moved to a typewritten paycheck, still hand-delivered. Today, it is all automated – the money gets into our accounts faster than ever before with the same or better accuracy, because of technology. Change is hard.
I expect folks in my age range (notice I’ve gone from a certain age, to a “range”) – in our 50s and more mature– are somewhat divided on technology. Some are very ”techknowlegeable,” and some are not. Making that change is, no doubt, difficult. As few as five years ago I absolutely refused to try or use LinkedIn or Facebook. I’m now regularly using both, learning Twitter, and using Klout, and even blogging in and outside my bank.
I continue to advocate, even gently encourage, my fellow 50-somethings to consider using the internet – and in particular, online banking & bill pay. It is not going away. In terms of safety and the risk management of using such things as online banking and bill pay, everyone must be diligent. I am confident the same was said of using dollar bills instead of gold pieces, checks instead of dollar bills, mail instead of hand delivered payments. Give careful consideration to learning to use the internet for your banking needs. I use a colleague’s example. His son is in his 30’s and has lived all across the country, including New York City. He has been with the same bank since college, and he has never set foot inside a brick & mortar building. (By the way, did you know you can open a checking account online and apply for a mortgage online!?) Change is hard – yet, it is all around us.
You have heard me share some of the positives of moving to online banking & bill pay – the most precious to me, is the time I have back in my life. I also just got a discount on my personal car insurance by moving to electronic statements – one less piece of mail to track. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make me excited. And yet, change is, indeed hard.
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:
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
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.
Here are some steps to take in order to protect you against Phishing.
More information about Email Phishing and Cybersecurity
Here are some good web sites to obtain more information about email phishing.
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.
Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concerns for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social media is great! We love to post our pictures, chat with friends and connect with companies and people with which we may have lost touch. However, we need to make sure that what we put on social media doesn't affect our security.
I'm sure you're asking me, "how could this happen?" Let me give you a hypothetical example.
Mary Jones has accounts at her local bank. She loves her online banking and bill pay for its convenience. Mary is a busy mother who doesn't have time to write checks and send in payments. Her local bank, who is very security minded, makes Mary set up security questions on her account so they can verify if Mary is the one accessing her account. Mary is very busy so she just does the normal security questions, mother's maiden name, etc. She doesn't want to, nor has time to think about it too much. Mary also loves social media and puts pictures of her family and pets on social media.
One day Mary goes online to check her balance and realizes money is missing. What happened? Did she leave her debit card somewhere? No, it's still in her purse! What happened?
What happened is that Mary chose easy passwords and security questions/answers. A cyber thief figured out Mary's password was her dog's name. And when Mary changed her passwords as her bank advised, the thief was able to get the new one because he knew the security questions. How did he get them, you ask? Her social media account! Remember, she posted pictures of her dog and of her mother, tagging her in the photos, which shows her mother's maiden name!
So what do you do? Get rid of your computer? Live like a hermit? No, I'm not suggesting anything that drastic. Here are a few tips:
Everyone loves social media. It truly is a great tool for connecting with others. But, with just a little work, you can make it safer and help protect against fraud.
What names are on your checking account? This sounds like a pretty simple question, but you would be surprised how many people are unclear about it. If you are married, perhaps you do not have both you and your spouse on the same account. There are many reasons why this may be the case. Maybe you and your spouse have separate accounts. Perhaps when you opened the account, the other person wasn't present or maybe you have had major life changes. There can be many reasons why.
Think back to when you opened your account one, five, 15 or more years ago. Is everything the same as it was back then? Have you revisited your account set up to ensure your account reflects the stage of life you're in now? Let's discuss why it might be important to do a quick review of your accounts. It's something that may take you a few minutes, but can be very worthwhile.
Account titling can be something that we would be glad to help you with at your local MutualBank Financial Center. You should have an account review on at least a yearly basis to make sure your present life situation is reflected in your bank accounts. This is very important as banking becomes more dependent on electronic banking, such as mobile banking, online banking, etc. Also, as an estate planning tool, you need to be sure that your assets pass to who you want them to go to in the event of an unexpected tragedy. This is important whether you are 18 or 80!
Let us at MutualBank help you live a better life!
Yes, it’s the familiar question many of us get in today’s world of technology…‘Have you changed your password lately?’ Recognizing that it can be challenging to change passwords often it is however something that is necessary to help prevent financial fraud.
MutualBank is taking steps to help you protect your financial records accessible online. In October of 2012 MutualBank Online Banking customers will be required to change their Online Banking passwords every 180 days.
Please consider changing your password now in order to get used to this new process. As you change your password we ask that you follow the guidelines listed below in crafting your new password.
Online Banking Password Requirements
If you need further assistance with changing your password please
call us at 800-382-8031.
Years ago people had A credit card... one, uno. Rarely did people carry around two, four, six, ten, twenty plus cards in their wallet or purse. Today, people do carry that many cards and don’t even realize it. Take a look at all those card slots in your wallet. They’re full aren’t they? Debit cards, credit cards, discount cards, membership cards, rewards cards, gift cards, and access cards. I’m sure there are others, but that’s just a quick look through my Card Cubby. Yes, I said ‘Card Cubby’.
I have an official organizer for all of my cards and oh yes, they are alphabetized. It’s a great invention and I receive complements all the time on what a great idea it is. It’s an easy way to track all of my cards and a quick way to find out if I have a gift card to a store or find my discount card in line at the supermarket. (Everyone behind me in line probably doesn't want to wait for me to dig through my Mary Poppins purse to find that little 1x2 inch card so I can save a few dollars.)
Reviewing the transaction activity on your cards is just as important as knowing where your cards are. Did you know that fraudsters can steal your card number and use it without actually having the card? Logging into your online banking and credit card websites regularly, or at a minimum, reviewing your monthly statements can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fraudulent charges.
If you carry a zero balance on your credit cards, it’s still important to see if there has been any activity. If you don’t have a balance that means there is more spending money available for the fraudsters. (If you don’t recognize a merchant name, do a search online because it might be a parent company.) It is important to contact the merchants where the fraudulent transactions are coming from and explain that they are fraudulent transactions. Also, It is extremely important to contact your bank or credit card company to close your card. Without closing your card and getting a replacement with a new number, fraudulent charges can continue to hit your account.
I login to my online banking and credit card websites weekly. Last month I had $4,000 in fraudulent charges in Texas on a credit card I rarely use and was in my possession. WOW! I contacted the merchants and called my credit card company right away. Because I didn’t wait to notify them, I’m not liable for the charges. If I would have waited days, weeks, or months, I could have been liable for some or all of the $4,000. When you notice fraud, don’t wait to take action. The longer you wait, the more time fraudsters have to take your money. (And the greater chance you’ll have to pay for it.)
Having and using these cards make our lives on-the-go easier and more convenient. We don’t have to worry about carrying cash; just swipe, earn rewards points, and go. I couldn’t live without my debit card and don’t intend to stop using it any time in the future, especially with all the rewards points I earn. And yes, I cash those points in for more gift cards to keep in my Card Cubby.
We're serious about doing all we can to protect you from debit card fraud. MutualBank customers can call 800-382-8031 to report any instances of fraud or suspicious calls.
When you shop online do you know where you’re shopping? According to the National Consumers League, online shopping is #3 for overall scams and #1 for Internet scams. That would imply that online shopping is a very risky activity. However, there are ways you can still shop online in a safe manner.
Following these guidelines can make your online shopping more secure:
Remember that you are the best defense against online shopping fraud! If you suspect that you have been scammed please call the MutualBank customer support at 800-382-8031.
Also please report any online fraud to Internet Crime Complaint Center.