Defending Yourself Against Identity Theft

  • 03 Jul 2017
  • Posted by Amarasco

As technology advances, you can be sure that identity thieves are not far behind. Here are some common methods cyberthieves use to steal your personal information and how you can increase your security while shopping or banking.

Phishing/vishing

Your email messages may not be quite what they appear to be if you’re targeted by a phishing scam.

Phishing is the act of sending fraudulent emails that seem to come from familiar businesses. These messages contain links to phony websites designed to steal personal information either directly or through malware and keyloggers. Often you’ll see a problem referenced with a request to click on the link provided to correct it. Once you’ve entered your information, ID thieves can access your accounts.

Vishing is the telephone version of phishing. Callers are sometimes bold enough to suggest the victim call back to verify authenticity. But the vishers don’t actually hang up; instead they play a recorded dial tone to make the victim believe he’s making a call.

Debit and credit card fraud

Most shoppers love the convenience of plastic, and identity thieves use this to their advantage whether it involves skimming, phishing, vishing, malware, mail theft or just looking over a victim’s shoulder to steal account numbers. When debit cards are compromised, it’s particularly alarming because fraudulent purchases drain your checking account instantly.

BEC scams

Business email compromise, or BEC, scams have cost companies more than $1.2 billion. A phony email from a CEO requesting that funds be transferred per attached instructions is sent to an employee. Because the email appears to come from the employee’s superiors, and because the message so closely resembles requests this employee receives regularly, the transfer is often made without question. The money then ends up in overseas accounts that are almost impossible to trace.

Tips to protect yourself

To even further reduce fraud risk:

  • Install the latest editions of antispyware, antivirus, firewalls and browsers to all devices, and password-protect them.
  • Use strong passwords for all accounts and change them frequently.
  • Monitor accounts and credit reports to detect fraud early
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks for financial transactions.
  • Keep cards away from public view, and shred personal documents before discarding.
  • Opt in for two-factor authentication on accounts.
  • Turn off bluetooth and near field communication when not in use.
  • Don’t click on email links. Type full web addresses to access business websites.
  • Never share sensitive information with unsolicited callers or email senders.
  • To verify calls, hang up for at least one minute to insure the first call is disconnected.
  • To protect your business from BEC scams, use a two-step verification process for all money transfers. Verbal confirmation is also wise.

Staying informed and adopting smart fraud prevention practices will go a long way toward protecting your identity. Between your efforts and your bank’s security, you should be able to stay a step ahead of identity thieves.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

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Defending Yourself Against Identity Theft

  • 22 May 2017
  • Posted by Amarasco

As technology advances, you can be sure that identity thieves are not far behind. Here are some common methods cyberthieves use to steal your personal information and how you can increase your security while shopping or banking.

Phishing/vishing

Your email messages may not be quite what they appear to be if you’re targeted by a phishing scam. Phishing is the act of sending fraudulent emails that seem to come from familiar businesses. These messages contain links to phony websites designed to steal personal information either directly or through malware and keyloggers. Often you’ll see a problem referenced with a request to click on the link provided to correct it. Once you’ve entered your information, ID thieves can access your accounts.

Vishing is the telephone version of phishing. Callers are sometimes bold enough to suggest the victim call back to verify authenticity. But the vishers don’t actually hang up; instead they play a recorded dial tone to make the victim believe he’s making a call.

Debit and credit card fraud

Most shoppers love the convenience of plastic, and identity thieves use this to their advantage whether it involves skimming, phishing, vishing, malware, mail theft or just looking over a victim’s shoulder to steal account numbers. When debit cards are compromised, it’s particularly alarming because fraudulent purchases drain your checking account instantly.

BEC scams

Business email compromise, or BEC, scams have cost companies more than $1.2 billion. A phony email from a CEO requesting that funds be transferred per attached instructions is sent to an employee. Because the email appears to come from the employee’s superiors, and because the message so closely resembles requests this employee receives regularly, the transfer is often made without question. The money then ends up in overseas accounts that are almost impossible to trace.

Tips to protect yourself

To even further reduce fraud risk:

  • Install the latest editions of antispyware, antivirus, firewalls and browsers to all devices, and password-protect them.
  • Use strong passwords for all accounts and change them frequently.
  • Monitor accounts and credit reports to detect fraud early
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks for financial transactions.
  • Keep cards away from public view, and shred personal documents before discarding.
  • Opt in for two-factor authentication on accounts.
  • Turn off bluetooth and near field communication when not in use.
  • Don’t click on email links. Type full web addresses to access business websites.
  • Never share sensitive information with unsolicited callers or email senders.
  • To verify calls, hang up for at least one minute to insure the first call is disconnected.
  • To protect your business from BEC scams, use a two-step verification process for all money transfers. Verbal confirmation is also wise.

Staying informed and adopting smart fraud prevention practices will go a long way toward protecting your identity. Between your efforts and your bank’s security, you should be able to stay a step ahead of identity thieves.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

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Do You Know How to Void a Check?

  • 15 Mar 2016
  • Posted by Admin

When you set up automatic payments or deposits, you often need to provide a voided check. Your bank information is printed on each check, and whoever asked for the voided check will copy that information and set up an electronic link with your account. There’s only one hitch: you need to know how to void a check, and you may not have ever done it before.

How to Void a Check
Voiding a check is really pretty easy.
Write the word “V O I D” across the front of the check in large letters. Make the word tall enough and wide enough to cover most of the check. However, don’t cover up the numbers at the bottom of your check -- those are needed to set up the link with your bank account. Use a pen or a fine tipped marker so that nobody can erase the word “VOID.”

 

how-to-void-a-checkImportant: don't just email that check, do something to hide your account information from thieves.
Once you’ve done all this, make a note of it in your check register so that you know where the check in question went; you don’t want to wonder whether or not you wrote a large check to somebody and worry about it hitting your account. Just write “VOID” next to the check number and date, and note who you gave the check to.
Writing “VOID” across the front of the check prevents anybody from using the check to make a payment (by filling in a payee and an amount). Nobody will have access to a blank check, which could be used to steal your money.

If you don’t have Checks: How can you void a check if you don’t have any checks?
You’ll have to find another way. If you’re setting up direct deposit, ask your employer if there are any

alternatives to providing a voided check (or ask your biller if you’re setting up automatic payments). A few ideas are listed below.
One solution is to go to the bank and ask for a “counter check.” The teller will print a check with your account information on it, and you can void that check as if it came out of your checkbook.

You may also be able to set up deposit or withdrawal instructions without using a voided check. Ask if you can provide a deposit slip instead of a voided check (a pre-printed deposit slip is usually required -- you can’t just fill it in by hand). You probably have a few of these left in the back of your checkbook.See if you can set up your bank account link online. Instead of using forms (which require that you void a check), try to use an online system. In most cases, you just enter your bank account information in an online form.

Another approach is to get documentation from the bank instead of voiding a check. Ask for a letter, printed on bank letterhead, that lists your account number, routing number, and account type (checking or savings). Alternatively, some banks provide a form letter used for setting up direct deposit -- just print it while you’re logged in to the online banking system and it will have everything you need.

Once you have your hands on a voided check, consider scanning or photocopying it. You may need to provide voided checks numerous times. If an original check is not required (for example, if you’re going to fax in the instructions), you can use the same copy over and over. Be sure to keep this copy somewhere safe -- in a locked filing cabinet or in an encrypted folder on your computer.

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Travel and Holiday Financial Security Tips

  • 23 Dec 2015
  • Posted by Amarasco

The Holiday Time is a popular time for holidaying and traveling. We want to help you keep your banking safe and secure, easy and hassle-free. Here are some helpful tips you can use to look after your finances while you’re traveling.holiday-travel

Security

You should make sure your cards are kept safe while you’re on holidays, just as you would when you’re at home.

• Keep your card, PIN and online banking secure code safe and secure at all times, remember your pin and

do not write it down
• Register for eStatements so future statements don’t come in envelopes which means your account details can’t being intercepted at the mailbox. With eStatements, you can retrieve your current and previous statements online via Online Banking, at a time that suits you.
• Never hand over your card where it is taken out of your sight.
• Carefully check ATMs for suspicious devices and select another ATM if you’re unsure.
• Pay attention when making purchases - normally your card should only be swiped once, and if a transaction is cancelled or unsuccessful, ask for a copy of the cancellation.
• Use Online Banking to keep track of the transactions you’ve made, so you can quickly spot and notify anything out of the ordinary. also, it’s a good idea to have your mail redirected or collected while you’re away.

Let your bank know if you’re traveling overseas

If you’re lucky enough to be traveling overseas, just let your bank know so they can look out for unusual transactions.

• Have travel insurance organized prior to going and take the details of how to contact the insurer in case you need to report an incident/make a claim.
• Make sure your cards won’t expire while away and contact your bank beforehand if they will
• Look at taking a ‘mixed wallet’ overseas – a combination of a number of ways to get foreign cash/pay for purchases. For example, it may be worthwhile taking a small amount of currency and currency of the country you’re going to, plus a debit and credit card.

Don’t make it easy for pickpockets

With a bit of planning you can ensure that pickpockets and travel scams which are common overseas don’t happen to you.

• Most people usually keep their wallets in their back pockets, they’re easy to pick, so use an inside pocket or hard to reach place instead
• Even consider limiting the amount of cash you require to carry on you at any one time
• Only take or carry the items you really need rather than all your cards and ID
• Keep handbags and backpacks in front of you, locked if possible and never let them out of your sight.
• Keep your cards and cash in different places so you have a back-up if your pocket is picked or bags are lost or stolen
With a bit of planning, you will have your finances all safely organized. Now you can get on with riding the waves, skiing the slopes, tasting the exotic foods and taking all those wonderful photos.

Enjoy your traveling holidays.

 

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Protecting Your Identity

  • 02 Sep 2015
  • Posted by Kathy Armstrong

We all go to tremendous measures to protect what is ours. We install sirens in our homes to frighten intruders and alarm systems in our cars to scare off robbers.

But what steps do we take to protect our identities?

The new burglary: a personal intrusion.
Identity theft is becoming more common today as we exchange personal information in the mail, over the phone and via the Internet. Maintaining control and ownership over your identity is as much a part of your financial well-being as staying debt-free and purchasing appropriate life and disability insurance policies. Just like positioning motion detectors and panic buttons for your home and car, there are easy ways to minimize the risk of someone stealing your identity.

Protect your most prized possession: your identity.
• Order a credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax (800-685-1111 or equifax.com), Experian (888-397-3742 or experian.com) and Trans Union (800-916-8800 or transunion.com).
• Shred materials that contain your personal information (account numbers, passwords, birth dates, social security numbers).
• When sharing sensitive information over the Internet, check for “https” at the beginning of the URL – the “s” indicates a secure site.
• Do not provide your Social Security number to companies that do not need it. When supplying personal information, find out how it is being used first.
• Avoid using easily guessed passwords such as your mother’s maiden name or your birth date. Change passwords often.
• Stay alert of billing cycles and inquire about bills that do not arrive on time.
• Retrieve your mail when it arrives to prevent theft of correspondence containing private records. Use public mailboxes to send mail with personal data.

Following these guidelines will certainly deter a thief, but there is no surefire way to prevent an identity break-in. If you do have an ID crisis, report the crime to one of the major credit bureaus, which will notify the other two agencies. Ask the bureau to place a “fraud alert” on your file and request a notification if new accounts are opened.

Identity theft may not be as obvious a home invasion, but it can be even more tumultuous to completely rectify. Protect your name, guard your credit. Put an alarm on your identity.

 

Kathy Armstrong is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM professional and works with Heritage Financial Consultants in Hunt Valley. She is an investment advisor representative through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp, a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor 307 International Circle, Suite 390, Hunt Valley, MD 21030, 410-771-5655. Neither Heritage Financial Consultants nor Lincoln Financial Advisors is affiliated with Howard Bank. Heritage Financial Consultants, LLC is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. CRN-1264285-080315

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