Credit and Debit Card Fraud Prevention: It's More Than Knowing Where Your Card Is.
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.
Is It Time to Call in the Professionals?
I don’t know about you, but for me, cars have become way too complicated. When I headed off to Indiana State University for my freshman year it was in a five-year old, used Ford Maverick. I really liked that car. It was bright green with a vinyl, black and white checkered bench seat in the front (which made it easier for snuggling with my girlfriend and eventual wife).
It had a 3-speed on-the-steering-column manual-shift transmission. Every once in a while the shifter would get stuck making it impossible to move out of second gear. The solution was simple: hold down the clutch, coast to the side of the road, turn off the engine, get out, open the hood, reach in and jerk on one of the bars connecting the shifter to the transmission. This got the stick unstuck and allowed me drive on shifting through all three gears.
That was something I figured out on my own with just an 8th grade shop class knowledge of cars. There was plenty of room under that hood. I could set a tool box in there and actually change spark plugs myself.
Now I don’t know if the Ford I’m driving today even has spark plugs. If it does, I’d never be able to locate them in the tightly packed jumble of components under the hood let alone get my hands in far enough to put a tool on them. The transmission in my current car is both manual and automatic! How in the world does that work? If something got stuck, I’d have to call the auto club.
I suppose I could learn how to work on my car but I think my life is better spending that time with my family, working in the community, and doing my job.
There are times in our lives when it’s better for us to turn to professionals. Just like me hiring a mechanic when I have car trouble, if you need legal work done, you see a lawyer; if you’re really sick, you call a doctor; and if your tax return is complicated, you hire an accountant. If you’re at a point in your life where it takes too much time, energy and special knowledge to manage your investments yourself, you should call MutualWealth Management Group.
For most of us that time comes when we have to take full control of a retirement plan from an employer and that time may come well before you retire. When you change jobs you may have a retirement account at your old employer that probably should be rolled over to an Individual Retirement Account. Some people have retirement accounts scattered among several former employers.
There are plenty of other situations when you should call us for professional investment help such as when you sell a business or property, inherit money, change marital status, receive a large legal or insurance settlement, or (don’t laugh because it happens) win big in the lottery or at the casino.
MutualWealth manages investments for people in personal accounts, retirement accounts, and trust accounts. Our fee is based on the value of your account; we are never paid commissions for “selling” investments. The only thing we sell is ongoing service based on your individual needs. So if you’re at the side of the road in your financial life and you don’t know which bar under the hood to jerk, call MutualWealth Management Group.
David Riggs is Vice President and Trust Investment Officer with MutualWealth Management Group.
Online Shopping - Safeguarding Your Account.
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:
- Use a low limit credit card for online shopping. Your liability is $50 on fraudulent charges using your credit card.
- Know with whom you’re shopping. 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.
- Look for the padlock. 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.
- Use anti-virus / anti-malware software on your PC. This can 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 your statement to verify online shopping activity.
(Side note: Have you signed up for MutualBank’s online banking? Sign Up today!)
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.
Android Users...We Have an App for You!
Beginning today, February 27, 2012, Android mobile phone users will be able to download an application designed specifically for Google Android devices.
For users already enrolled in MutualMobile, follow these easy steps to getting your app!
- Log in to your online banking and access Mobile Banking, via ‘Options’ and 'Manage Device(s)'.
- Select the “I want to change my Mobile Banking services” option to add the downloadable application. (You may also notice that we have modified the “Select Services” page to better assist you with your mobile banking options.)
- After you have changed your services, we will send you a text message with a link that takes you directly to our Android application, TouchBanking, in the Android Market.
If you have not yet enrolled in MutualMobile, it only takes a few minutes! (And it's FREE!)
Log in to online banking and choose ‘Options’ to register today. Need help? Contact us at 800-382-8031 or CustomerSupport@bankwithmutual.com.
Learn more about MutualMobile.
Have you ever thought about how much your prescription or doctor visits cost your employer? Many people who have a traditional insurance plan know they pay a $20 or $30 co-pay then they go about their day. But have you ever looked at the amount your company pays?
Insurance costs have skyrocketed over the past decade and companies have tried to find a way to still offer benefits to their employees. The solution has been to offer a high deductible insurance plan. These types of programs are often accompanied by something called a Health Savings Account (HSA). Simply put, a HSA is a checking account where money can be deposited and used for medical expenses. (You might have heard of a Flexible Spending Account, FSA, which is similar to a HSA, but different. FSAs require you to use your money set aside before the year ends. HSAs allow you to roll money over year after year. There are other differences as well. Learn more about HSAs through the Treasury’s website.)
So, are HSAs a good idea? Yes! HSAs make us better consumers of our health care. We look closer at a bill or prescription if we know it will come out of our pocket. We take the time to make sure if a generic medicine is just as good as a name brand, or if we truly need to go to the doctor for our sniffles.
The beauty of a health savings account is that the money grows tax free as long as we use it for qualified medical expenses. So not only are we being more proactive with and aware of our healthcare, we are being smart about our money as well!
Together, a health savings account and a smart consumer make for very healthy living!
If you have questions about your HSA or want to learn more, chat with us! Your local MutualBanker is here to help you live a better life!
Simplify...Using my Bank to Make my Life Easier
My age is on my mind. I’m 50, my favorite (& only) hubby just turned 50. I need to simplify my life. I need ‘easy,’ so I can spend more time doing the things I need and I want to do, like:
- Hanging out with my family (need & want)
- Getting myself back in shape (need)
- Enjoying time with friends (need & want)
- Stressing less (need & want)
- Preparing for retirement (want sooner, rather than later, if possible).
When it comes to my finances, the benefits of having multiple relationships with my bank are many – everything is in one place; I don’t have to work to remember which loan is where; which financial institution my checking, savings, CDs are – and ditto for my family. After all, my 50-year old brain is getting full, and I do have ‘senior moments’ on occasion.
I admit I have had multiple relationships with other financial institutions. Why? Mostly, my laziness in moving accounts when I built my current banking relationship and just letting them “be” when I knew it was just making my life more complicated. I got numerous paper bank statements – mine, my husband’s, my daughter’s. Translation – more paper for me to file, keep track of, give to my accountant, shred, or heaven forbid, lose….
Having one bank is oh, so much easier. I’m a convert to electronic banking and all that entails – bill pay, e-statements, automatic deposits. And if you’re worried about security, yes (my age-level friends) – it is safe. With FDIC insurance on deposits and multiple electronic safeguards in place to keep my information safe, I’m comfortable – albeit it was not initially easy to convince me. I have had, knock on wood, no instances of fraud or theft since moving to electronic.
Now, I have password protected access to my internet banking, from anywhere, including my cell phone – where I can see on one page – my checking account balance & transactions; my savings account; CD; mortgage, and personal loan. I know, at any point in time, my total balances in each of those. I get most bills electronically (remember – less mail to sort through = more time for ME), and can set up a payment for future dates. My life is incrementally simpler, in many ways thanks to my bank.
Come on, fellow 50-year olds – I know we are on the cusp of liking the old ways – paper checks, snail mail, filing, and more filing. But, wouldn’t you like more time for yourself?
I Love Free Stuff - Using Your Debit Card Rewards to Your Advantage
My husband and I just returned from an awesome vacation. It was sunny and warm and a great break this time of year. Do you know what was even better? The free stuff! We are points people. We saved up enough points so that we both had free airfare and five nights hotel stay in a super nice resort. How awesome is that?
We have friends who use their points for upgrades when they travel. Another friend used their points to go parasailing while on vacation. I have a very practical friend who uses her points for gift cards to buy the everyday stuff her family needs. The greatest thing about points is that we can use them for whatever we want. That is what we love about UChoose Loyalty Rewards. UChoose Loyalty Rewards is more than a debit card rewards program. It rewards us for our loyalty to MutualBank, for our deposit, loan and investment balances. It also gives us points when we open up new services AND we earn points when we use our debit card. Woo Hoo! That is so awesome!
UChoose Loyalty Rewards just became even more awesome and I wanted to tell you some of the new things that make the program even better:
- UChoose Rewards now has featured merchants who will give you special offers and bonus points for shopping with them. Check out the special offers when you log in at UChooseRewards.com
- Now you don’t have to worry if you don’t have quite enough points for the item you’ve been saving for. You can go ahead and get it now, and buy the rest of the points needed with your debit card.
- If you are impatient like me, you don’t even have to wait for your gift card to arrive in the mail, you can get it electronically in minutes delivered to your email.
- Oh, and speaking of impatient, if you don’t want to wait for your item to arrive by mail, some of the products have in store pick up, once you’ve paid for it with your points.
UChoose Loyalty Rewards just keeps getting better and better. So I have to ask the question, are you signed up for UChoose Loyalty Rewards? If not, let me remind you it’s free. If you’re already signed up, awesome. Tell me what you love about UChoose Loyalty Rewards or how you use your points at firstname.lastname@example.org . I love to hear your stories.
If you’re not signed up, do it now, don’t wait! Once you register your debit card at UChooseRewards.com you’ll start earning points right away. Maybe you’re thinking that you don’t need it because you use your credit card to accumulate points, that’s great! A lot of people do the same thing. But don’t you want to earn points on the items that you do purchase with your debit card? I know I do. Besides, if you don’t sign up, you miss out on the rewards you can get for your account balances and the bonus points for new services and shopping at select retailers. Don’t throw away the points you could be receiving. Start earning today!
Learn more about UChoose Loyalty Rewards
Social Engineering...Don't Be Fooled and Keep Your Banking Information Safe!
What is social engineering?
CSO Magazine defines Social Engineering:
“Social engineering is essentially the art of gaining access to buildings, systems or data by exploiting human psychology, rather than by breaking in or using technical hacking techniques. For example, instead of trying to find a software vulnerability, a social engineer might call an employee and pose as an information technology (IT) support person, trying to trick the employee into divulging his password.”
– CSO November 2011
Social Engineering can take on many forms and fraudsters can be very successful using this method since it is very low tech and costs very little (if any) money to do. When it comes to banking online, it's even more important to understand the risks and how to keep your information safe and secure.
Here are some common methods of social engineering:
- Posing as a bank employee and calling you to trick you into divulging your personal financial information.
- Posing as a relative calling you to say that your nephew, cousin, aunt, etc. has been stranded in Europe and needs money wired to them in order to get back home.
- Facebook or Twitter scams such as free gift cards, phony charities, “watch this amazing video” are all used to trick people into again divulging private information to steal identities.
Protect yourself from social engineering:
- MutualBank will not call or email you asking for personal, financial, or username and password information.
- If you are suspect of a call you’ve received, insist on calling back with the published phone number of MutualBank or in the case of a relative the number that is known to you.
- If it’s too good to be true…it probably is. Be very leery of extremely cheap or free products / services advertised on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.
At MutualBank, we strive to keep you educated of new scams or frauds. For more information about protecting yourself visit our Alerts and Security information.
Visit our Alerts anytime at bankwithmutual.com and click on "Alerts and Security".
MutualBank customers can always call 800-382-8031 to report any instances of fraud or suspicious calls. Together we're working with you to keep your information safe.
Holiday Debt Woes
Now that the Holidays are over, it is now time for those credit card bills to arrive and the determination of what was actually spent on holiday gifts become reality.
As many Americans utilize credit cards to purchase gifts during the holidays and other items all year long, the repayment of that debt is always a challenge. The excitement of the holiday season is over and the stress rises. We use credit cards either as a convenience or because the cash is not available when we want. Then the credit card bill arrives and we have a choice to make, pay the minimum payment and payoff the credit card in about ten years or try to make payments to reduce the balance more rapidly. The following are a few suggestions to make the credit card debt go away and then utilize cash for the next holiday season or purchase.
- Have a plan and try to determine a reasonable payback period. The quicker you pay off credit card debt, the more money you will save. If you have $500 on a credit card and pay the minimum payment, you will end up paying over $1,200 when you eventually pay off the credit card ten years from now. If you payback in three months, your total payback would be approximately $518. (Assuming 21% credit card rate)
- Use our calculator in our Financial Education Center to find out how long it will take to pay off your credit card.
- Once the credit card is paid off, use the payment you were making to create savings. This will then allow you to use cash for your 2012 holiday purchases without having to resort to credit cards.
While this is easier said than done, it takes discipline. And we’re here to help. Every year we make New Year’s resolutions, but if we are not disciplined it is very hard to stick to those resolutions. Let’s chat. Maybe we can work together to come up with a game plan to help you pay down your debt. Go ahead… make 2012 a year that you take control of your finances instead of your finances controlling you.
Businesses: I'm Talking To You!
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New Year’s Resolutions... nope, I don’t subscribe to them. I also don’t subscribe to fad diets (although there are times when I should), the latest fashions, or much else that seem to be the latest topics, trends, or crazes. However, what I do believe is necessary and appropriate is to use the calendar as a good benchmark for various aspects of life. Spring and Fall time changes are good reminders to change the batteries in the smoke detector. Anniversaries are a good time to reflect and make a special effort to thank that special person for putting up with me. Well you get the idea...
And, this is the time of year that I encourage our lending team to get out and talk to our clients and vice-versa. Businesses traditionally are ramping up for the year and looking forward. They are thinking about meeting with their CPA. They are looking at the year ahead and trying to determine what sales goals are for the year. And it is at this time of the year that bankers should be taking the time to visit with their clients. Here is a list of conversation topics that your banker needs to be having with you (who initiates the conversation is not as important as having it).
- How do you (the business owner) think 2011 will end up and why? (Did revenue go up, down or sideways? What kind of bottom line do you expect and why? )
- What are your 2012 expectations – where do you see this year differing from last and why?
- Major acquisitions of fixed assets (equipment, real estate) on the horizon? What will that do for the company (does it make sense to invest hard earned money into something – will it make the company more efficient?)
- Any other potential changes on the horizon (staffing, ownership buy outs, possible acquisition of additional lines of business)?
- Expectations of what you (the business owner) want from your banker (number of meetings each year, communications channels, etc.)
You should expect your banker to be of assistance, giving you good guidance and advice. If the banker can’t understand your business, it is difficult for him/her to be able to help you. Meet with your banker, make sure he/she “get it”, and open up those communication channels for both of you to succeed. The bank doesn’t do well unless its clients do well, and businesses don’t do well unless their bank is by their side helping them achieve the goals and aspirations of their companies.
Go ahead and start these conversations today!