Financial Education Sites
Identity theft continues to be a concern for everyone. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information in order to establish credit or borrow money in your name. Measures are in place at your bank to protect your identity and your accounts against fraud and theft. Some examples include verifying your identity before releasing information over the telephone, and more stringent multi-factor authentication for your online transactions. However, maximum security is only possible with your help.
Tips To Help Stop Identity Theft
Do Not Give Out Financial Information -
unless you know the person or organization.
Report Lost or Stolen Checks, Debit Cards or Credit Cards Immediately -
payments on them can be blocked.
Notify The Bank Of Suspicious Telephone Inquiries -
this includes callers that ask for your account information to "verify" something or award a prize.
Do Not Respond to "Phishing" EMails -
this includes emails that request any financial information or request your social security number.
Guard Your PIN Number -
do not give out your PIN number for ATM or debit cards.
Monitor Your Accounts Regularly -
people that monitor their accounts regularly are more likely to notice account fraud earlier. Report any fraudulent activity to your bank immediately.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) was passed to help reduce identity theft. One of its features allows all consumers to request a free copy of their own credit report. You may obtain your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
Password security has become an important question as more and more of us use online accounts and mobile accounts to access financial information. There are some simple things each of us can do to help protect ourselves online with one of the biggest being the use of "strong" passwords. The keys to a password's strength are length and complexity. An ideal password has letters, punctuation, symbols and numbers and you should try to use as many of these as the website's requirements allow. Passwords should be changed frequently, or at least every 90-days. Do not share your login information with any other individual and avoid using the automatic login features that save your username and password. Following are some other tips:
- Avoid creating a password using any personal, financial or identifying information including your birthday, driver's license number, passport number, account number or social security number
- Avoid using a dictionary word or even a word spelled backwards
- Avoid using sequences or repeated characters or adjacent letters on your keyboard - for example 1234567 or qwerty
- Do add complexity to your passwords by mixing upper and lower case letters
- Do add numbers or symbols to your password
- Do make your password more difficult to guess by making it more random. For example, take a sentence and use the first letter of each word adding upper and lower case letters. DmYpMdTgBmImR!. Adding symbols to the end adds to the complexity.
Teaching Your Kids About Money
The American Bankers Association provides information on financial education for all ages. One of their newest publications is designed to help parents teach their kids about money. Did you know that our teens spend roughly $170 billion a year? Do your kids know the dos and don'ts of credit? Or maybe they need some help with budgeting. See "The Parents' Guide ~ Teaching Your Kids About Money" for information you can use. We need to help teach our kids how to save and invest wisely and how to live on a budget. Let's help make our children's financial dreams come true with education.
FDIC Consumer News
The FDIC publishes a newsletter quarterly with information all consumers can use. The Fall issue is now available. This issue contains articles on Mortgages including "Coming Soon: New Mortgage Rules Borrowers Should Know About" and protecting yourself from mortgage scams. Other articles in this issue provide information on what to do when you're turned down for a checking or savings account and tips for using financial instutions' social networking sites. You can find the full newsletter on the FDIC website www.fdic.gov.
GO Direct! is a national campaign sponsored by the US Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks promoting Direct Deposit of federal benefit payments. You can have benefits such as your Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) directly deposited into your bank account. What are some of the benefits? The deposit is made straight into your account on the same day each month. Plus, with direct deposit you will have access to your funds immediately from virtually anywhere. For maximum convenience ask for an ATM card to use with your savings accounts or an ATM/Debit card for your checking account. If you want more information, or you're ready to sign up, click on GO Direct!
The U.S. Postal Service has a new website to help fight check fraud. Fake checks and money orders are out there - don't be the victim of a check scam! Learn how to spot fake check scams at www.FakeChecks.org.
- Someone you don't know wants to give you a check or money order and asks you to wire cash back to them.
- Someone contacts you about winning a foreign lottery and wants your help to get the money out of their country.
- Someone wants to buy your online auction item and they are sending a check or money order for more than the item sold for.
- Someone hires you to work from home and wants you to deposit checks into your personal bank account as part of the job.
Who is responsible for losses to your account? If the check or money order turns out to be counterfeit, or is returned unpaid for any reason, you are fully responsible for the loss. Bank employees may not be able to determine if the item is valid, their job is simply to process your transaction. Learn more about check scams at the US Postal Service website FakeChecks.org.
New ID Theft Scam
Financial abuse, or financial exploitation, of the elderly is a growing and often unreported crime. Financial exploitation can occur without the person’s knowledge, by trickery, intimidation or coercion, or when the person is too confused to give informed consent. The exploitation can be classified in one of two categories: exploitation by a person known to the victim (family member, caregiver, POA, etc.) or exploitation by a stranger (con artists, bogus charities, unscrupulous salesmen, etc.).
Watch for the following “red flags” that may indicate financial abuse:
- Closing CD’s or accounts without regard to penalties
- ATM withdrawals by a person who has never used a debit or ATM card
- New powers of attorney the person does not understand
- A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial business on the other person’s behalf without proper documentation
How can you protect your elderly friends/loved ones and yourself?
- Never give out your SS#, account numbers or any other personal financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call
- Don’t open emails from people you do not know
- Shred bank statements, bank receipts, credit card statements and credit cards before throwing them away
- Review your bank and credit card statements regularly and call the institution if you find any instances of unauthorized use
- Do business with companies you know are reputable
- Do not let a stranger talk you into sending them money, this includes strangers who say you’ve “won money” and those that say they work for a charitable organization (make sure it is for real)
- Talk to your local banker if you have questions or concerns
If you suspect financial abuse, talk to the elderly person and try to determine what is happening. Is there a new person “helping” them with their money or is someone taking advantage of them? Report the financial abuse to the person’s banker and enlist their assistance. You may want to contact adult protective services for your area and, all instances of elder financial abuse should be reported to your local law enforcement.
You can now buy and manage savings bonds through the Treasury Direct website at www.treasurydirect.gov. Existing paper savings bonds are valid issues of the Treasury Department and will earn interest for 30 years from the issue date or until redeemed. You can convert your paper savings bonds to electronic savings bonds in Treasury Direct using a program called SmartExchange. You may still redeem your paper bonds at most financial institutions, including The Union Bank Company. Visit www.treasurydirect.gov for full details.
Windows XP Support Ends
Microsoft has announced the end of support for Windows XP effective April 8, 2014. This means Microsoft will no longer be sending out updates to fix vulnerabilities in Windows XP. With the end of support, if you are running Windows XP, you may be more susceptible to attacks from hackers. It is recommended that you upgrade your computer from Windows XP, to the current Microsoft OS to ensure that you still receive Microsoft updates. Below is a link to Microsoft’s website explaining the retirement of Windows XP.
Helping you to a better financial future through knowledge. Another way The UNION BANK Company can help you make your dreams come true.